Monday, 19 August 2013

U.S Port Investment Debate Continues As Time Is Running Out

More than 140 countries and regions all around the world, are upgrading and modernizing their port and transport systems to put in place the proper infrastructure that is absolutely necessary to be able to compete in the new global economy of the future. In the United States, there are still debates going on whether or not the U.S should make the required investments in order to do so.

The American leaders, both in industry and government, better take a good look at their arguments on both sides of the important issue and make a move one way or another. Time is quickly running out and if the world’s biggest consumer market is in danger of putting themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage if they don’t do the right thing and invest in their ports in order for them to be able to handle the new giant post-panamax shipping container vessels that have now started to sail the world seas.

In 2015, the new Panama Canal expansion is expected to open that will allow cargo ships carrying up to 12,500 TEUs up from the existing maximum 4,400 TEUs that can pass through today. This is going to be a game-changer in relation to the way the global economy shapes up in terms of new trade routes that are currently being redrawn. Since the shipping industry is transforming itself with the introduction of these new massive container vessels, it is imperative that any port that wants to be on their trade routes, has the capability to handle their huge size. Simply put, any ports that can’t will inevitably miss the big boat.

President Obama has been consistent in his belief that the U.S. must invest in port infrastructure in order to build a solid economic future for the country. In a recent visit to Jacksonville, Florida, the U.S. President stated, "In a couple of years, new supertankers are going to start coming through the Panama Canal ... We want those supertankers coming here, to Jacksonville."

While the debate continues in the United States, the rest of the world nations are busy doing what is best for their country or region and making the investments required to put them “on-the-map” of the major shipping companies looking for ports to dock their giant container vessels. If the US doesn't hurry up and do the same, they will no doubt, put themselves behind when the new global economy kicks into high gear in the next few years.

"We already see the bigger ships coming through the Suez Canal ... They are already calling on us. But, if we can’t bring them in as fully loaded as the industry wants them to come, then they will bypass us."- Jaxport Spokeswoman

There really shouldn't be much debate about it as the answer is quite obvious. The problem is not in the ideology in the political spectrum, but in the fact they don’t have much extra money to invest in the first place as they are currently paying for their past investment mistakes. It would certainly be one big mistake if they failed to invest in their port systems and quickly. They could end up paying for it for decades to come.

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