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Putting 2012 in perspective

Climactic upheavals and entitled union misbehavior notwithstanding, here’s hoping that shippers will face fewer barriers to trade and prosperity in the next 12 months
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
December 31, 2012

As we approach a new year, shippers will no doubt reflect upon the many challenges and opportunities they faced in 2012.

Recent trade agreements with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea were big pluses, and we moved much closer to completion of the Transpacific Trade Partnership – which will usher in a new era for Pacific Rim commerce. For air cargo shippers, the good news came when the European Commissioner for Climate Action suspended the inclusion of international aviation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

All of these developments promise to foster new international links for U.S. shippers, and make the penetration of new markets less risky and costly.

The darker part of the year was marked by the catastrophic damage done by Hurricane Sandy, which exacted its human toll and caused havoc with holiday season supply chains. U.S. port authorities, however, were quick to cooperate, as vessels were rerouted to ocean cargo gateways just out of the storm’s deadly path.

Port and terminal operators nationwide were left with another problem, however, that was entirely man made: dockside labor disruption.

With the nation’s largest ports – Los Angeles and Long Beach – shut down for eight days due to an International Longshore and Warehouse strike, November was a bleak month indeed. Meanwhile, the ILWU continues to cause uncertainty in the Pacific Northwest as they threaten to shut down operations at several grain and wheat terminals.

The biggest labor story, though, seems to have been resolved with the agreement made by the International Longshore Association last week to renegotiate its contract with management before striking East Coast and Gulf ports. But the very threat of such an action did considerable damage to shippers who had to make sudden – and expensive – shifts in their distribution and sourcing strategies.

Climactic upheavals and entitled union misbehavior notwithstanding, here’s hoping that shippers will face fewer barriers to trade and prosperity in the next 12 months.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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