US Port Strike
As 2012 entered its final days, the International Longshoremen's Association was on the verge of its first coastwide strike in 35 years. In a speech to the JOC's Trans-Pacific Maritime conference in early March, ILA President Harold Daggett rattled the industry by warning a strike was possible. Negotiations opened in late March and continued in fits and starts through the year.
Superstorm Sandy slams US East Coast
When monster Hurricane Sandy's storm surge struck New York and New Jersey on Oct. 29, it not only destroyed hundreds of homes and closed the region's rail and road network for days, but also rolled over the port's terminals, scattering containers and damaging cranes. In what was described as a miracle, the terminals reopened less than a week later, but all inbound containers were diverted to Baltimore and Norfolk, creating a migraine for importers who had to pay through the nose to get them back north.
Critical need for infrastructure investment
President Obama's re-election and the continuation of Republican and Democrat control of the House and Senate set the stage for a much-needed federal infrastructure investment push. But although partisan bickering has subsided, Obama and Congress first needed to offset the so-called fiscal cliff to prevent the U.S. from slipping into another major economic slowdown.
Shipping's Rate Volatility
Global shipping lines took a roller-coaster ride in 2012. Rates plummeted at the beginning of the year, extending their losses from 2011, but recovered enough to bring them out of the red. By year-end, rates were sliding again, and analysts said carriers would be hard-pressed to sustain increases in 2013 because of the record amount of vessel capacity due for delivery. That could signal even more frequent ups and downs in the coming year. Will carriers have the discipline to idle enough capacity to keep their bottom lines in the black? Stay tuned.
Opening logistics market critical for China's future
Whether the new Beijing leadership improves the country's supply chain through opening its logistics market to foreigners will determine China's economic future. China needs to improve its freight connections to better connect its factories, which are increasingly moving westward toward lower labor costs, to ports if the country wants to remain the world's factory.
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