æLooming crisisÆ in port, logistics spending
A new report said a 'business as usual' scenario over the next 20 years would result in critically low investment in infrastructure, with only China, the European Union and perhaps the United States having the capacity to sustain needed investment.
'Emerging markets have very high growth rates, but a weak project generation capacity, resulting in infrastructure investment that constantly lags projections. This is a looming crisis in a number of areas — ports and logistics investments as well as power generation have been below trend lines, creating serious bottlenecks by 2015,' said the report, released by the Washington-based consulting firm CG/LA Infrastructure in conjunction with a forum it is holding in New York this week
'There has been an enormous recent investment in ports and logistics,” CG/LA said. “The global economy is going to take a breather for at least the next five years, and perhaps longer — free trade giving way to fair trade, in a context of an overbuilt global trading infrastructure.”
It added that 'great projects requiring large investments are much less likely than differentiated investments, modernizing existing infrastructure' such as improving U.S. East Coast ports to allow for calls by larger ships as the Panama Canal is enlarged, continued development in China, 'clearing-up of bottlenecks in places like Brazil, India and smaller high-powered countries like Vietnam.'
It said there are opportunities for infrastructure companies if they 'think about the modernization of existing ports and logistics infrastructure — rather than new infrastructure builds, the increased development of more throughput in existing ports. This dovetails with organized labor demands, on the rise, around the world.'
It suggested port spending will climb from $64.5 million to $107.8 million under a 'business as usual' scenario, $158 billion under a moderate growth scenario, $245 billion under a high growth scenario.
It projects that the share of world shipping originating in China will climb from 35 percent in 2010 to the 40 percent-to-50 percent range throughout the coming two decades. China's investment in the ports sector will be in the range of $10 billion in the next five years and will continue growing at a pace of 6 percent to 7 percent annually in the following years.
CG/LA said the U.S. spends about $7.3 billion per year on ports and logistics infrastructure and believes this is about half of what the country should spend.
'Most investments over the last decade have been focused on imports of cheap products from Asia,' it said adding, 'the U.S. has not made a consistent investment in export generating infrastructure in two generations.' CG/LA pointed to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, completed in 1983, as the 'last major piece of export-oriented infrastructure.
'This is an area that is ripe for new investments, particularly focused on enabling the competitiveness of U.S. exports,' it said.
Intermodal investment also should be focused 'not just on the integration of rail, truck and waterway, but shaped toward export growth' CG/LA said.
Globally, the increasing cost and volatility of oil and concern about greenhouse gases will 'increasingly generate momentum in the direction of freight rail,' it said. ' Chris Dupin