It is interesting to listen to analysts discuss the next big supply chain trend. We all get caught up in it, looking at emerging technologies and theories for moving goods from point A to point B. But, the single biggest thing that the U.S. could do to improve business competitiveness would be to focus on national supply chain infrastructure. And, national port infrastructure is the place to start.
Port regions around the country got lucky this fall because the economy is actually sluggish. A really strong U.S. dollar has pushed exports down. And, because of massive overstocking earlier this spring, the number of imports headed to the U.S. is also measured and “spread out.” That comes after a difficult first quarter in which we had a significant set of delays at West Coast ports. Those delays impacted the flow of goods in the U.S. and led to some economic challenges in the third quarter. Simply put, companies became overstocked. But, had they not been in this situation, they would be facing a chronic problem across the country: inadequate inland port infrastructure.
Ports have done a great job of getting themselves physically ready to handle large container ships. They have the cranes; the waterways around the ports have been deepened; and they have the partners interested in helping to move more containers through the port area. But, the infrastructure that can take those containers and move them inland is inadequate in most areas.
-- Chris Kuehl, NACM economist
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