Steady growth of containerized cargo imports and exports is expected this year as the U.S. economic picture brightens, said industry experts at the ninth annual “Pulse of the Ports Peak Season Forecast” March 27 in Long Beach. Representatives for the retail, shipping and terminal operating sectors as well as the panel’s economist predicted 3 to 6 percent growth in freight volume during the upcoming “peak season” for cargo, from August through October.
“There is a recovery going on,” said Walter Kemmsies, Ph.D., Chief Economist for the Moffat & Nichol transportation infrastructure engineering firm. “All the wheels are turning in the right direction. We expect the economy to be better this year than last year.
This year’s outlook compares favorably to recent years when experts were still waiting to see some concrete signs of economic recovery at home and worldwide.
The positive outlook this year however was tempered by concerns over the looming reduction in staffing by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at seaports due to the federal government’s “sequestration” budget cuts. The panel also expressed concern over economic impacts of state-by-state environmental regulations and hurdles that hamper the productivity of drayage trucking operations at local ports.
The annual Peak Season Forecast at the Hyatt Long Beach on Wednesday drew a capacity audience of nearly 600 people and featured nine panelists from every segment of the industry.
The Port of Long Beach is a premier gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a leader in seaport sustainability. Each year the Port hosts the “Peak Season Forecast” to assist customers and the entire industry in business planning for the year and beyond.