- The U.S. and Canada enjoying parallel growth rates (U.S. 8.7%; Canada 8.3%) from 2015-2017, according to Maersk Line’s North American Trade Report.
- Consumer demand will continue to drive U.S. imports, but exports are lagging. For every two containers imported into the country, just one is exported. On the West Coast, the ratio is closer to 3-1.
- U.S. shippers need to speed digital transformation to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
While imports are helping the U.S., its widening import-export imbalance is limiting. Canada, on the other hand, will benefit from a free-trade agreement covering a $12.6 trillion U.S. market.
U.S. gains will come from the retail, chemicals, consumer electronics and grains sectors, but a number of issues continue to hinder further growth. As the report indicates — and we all know — there is a trucking crisis. Rail infrastructure is in need of updates, terminal competitiveness trails other countries, and terminal congestion remains a problem.
Maersk as a major player in maritime shipping and containers, moves approximately one of every five in a global container market valued at more than $4 trillion. The U.S., according to the report, accounts for 24% of all global container trade. A lot of money, yes, but it could be more.
Because of the import-export imbalance, the U.S. receives two containers for every one it ships (3-1 on the West Coast). That results in a lot of empty containers being shipped, adding to supply chain costs.
One prime answer, as often is the case in today’s business world, is digital efficiency. Government needs to work on infrastructure, and logistics companies must find a way to hire and retain drivers, but digital is the new normal. It can pay off in numerous ways, including customer communications, fuel and operations cost reductions, billing, tracking and more.
For example, shippers using a paperless platform can reduce transaction time, increase customer transparency move containers more efficiently through terminals and save millions of dollars