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Goods Movement Industry Poised for Growth in 2012

Port of Long Beach hosts annual 'Peak Season Forecast'

March 28, 2012


Goods movement industry experts and executives convened Wednesday in downtown Long Beach and said there is a growing sense of optimism for cargo's upcoming "peak season," the time of year when international trade traditionally ramps up from mid-summer into fall.

The eighth annual “Pulse of the Ports -- Peak Season Forecast” conference hosted by the Port of Long Beach examined the trends and expectations in international trade. An archived webcast of the event is available at www.polb.com/pulseports.

A panel of representatives from across the supply chain told the audience of about 400 people at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach that customers who ship cargo internationally are looking forward to a busier year this year compared to 2011, and that Southern California ports are well prepared with the facilities, labor force and customer service to accommodate the increase.

“Importers are optimistic and they believe sales will increase this year. And they are excited about it,” said Daniel R. Wall, Senior Vice President of Expeditors, a logistics firm.

Meanwhile, exports are supporting the U.S. economic recovery, with overseas purchases of U.S. autos, construction equipment and agricultural products expected to continue to rise, said Walter Kemmsies, Ph.D, Chief Economist for Moffatt & Nichol Engineers.

Peter Friedmann, Executive Director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, said the expected growth of agricultural exports in years to come represents a signature economic opportunity for those in the goods movement industry who choose to embrace it.

“It's only in the last couple years that exports have become the in thing. Exports are the future," Friedmann said. “I’m particularly glad to be here at the Port of Long Beach, because the Port of Long Beach, unlike a lot of ports and a lot of ocean carriers has really understood the value of exports for a quite a long time.”

Due to the precarious position of economies in Europe and other economic challenges, the optimistic mood of the forecast conference was tempered by concern for regulatory challenges facing the trucking industry and the sense that economic recovery in this country is still a work in progress.

However, the long-term picture for the Port of Long Beach offered hope, given the Port’s access to markets, its reputation for service and its ongoing investment in infrastructure.

Erxin Yao, President of the OOCL (USA) Inc. shipping line, said it’s clear that future success in the ocean transportation business depends on efficient and sustainable freighters that can haul the most cargo at the lowest cost, using fewer resources. OOCL recently agreed to a long-term lease with the Port of Long Beach for the newly renovated Middle Harbor terminal that will be able to handle the largest ships efficiently.

“The Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project will enable us to meet the challenge of the future,” Yao told the audience.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a primary gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in innovative goods movement, safety and environmental stewardship. With 140 shipping lines connecting Long Beach to 217 seaports worldwide, the Port handles trade valued at more than $155 billion each year and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Southern California. Founded in 1911, the Port enters its second century with more than $4 billion in planned capital improvements over the next decade to support trade growth and strengthen its ability to serve the goods-movement industry, Port clients and the community.

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