Analyst says TEU growth will be more than double world GDP
Containerized trade is projected to grow 7.6 percent in 2006, more than double the projections for worldwide GDP growth of 3.4 percent, said Paul Bingham, an economist with economic consulting firm Global Insight.
It's not a new trend, but it's one that is stressing infrastructure in the United States, Bingham told the Metrans National Urban Freight Conference in Long Beach Wednesday.
'U.S. trade is growing faster than the economy as a whole,' he said. 'The factors influencing trade growth go beyond mere consumer demand.'
He said harmonized tariffs, relaxed regulatory policies toward foreign trade and trading blocks like the North American Free Trade Agreement have led to the large gap between trade and GDP growth.
'Free trade policies add to congestion because they're pursued without regard to domestic transportation systems,' he said. 'No matter what metric we use (to gauge growth), they all grow relentlessly, whether it's freight loads or vehicle miles traveled.'
Bingham said carriers will feel the brunt of the congestion, especially as fuel prices rise and employees expect higher salaries.
'Carriers are doing whatever they can to get productivity out of their business and it's not just to improve their bottom line,' he said. 'It's to stay in business. People employed in transportation are going to get higher wages and that's going to mean higher costs.'
Fueling the congestion problems, he added, is the land use development patterns of shippers.
'The pattern of distributions center continue to evolve toward less centralized, less urban warehousing, yet are as dependent as ever on the transport network connected to urban markets,' he said. That only exacerbates the situation 'because goods end up back in the urban markets and transit through urban freight gateways.'