The Center for International Trade and Transportation

    Industry Articles

    Trade and Transportation Perspective is a monthly column written by Director of Research Thomas O'Brien for the Long Beach Business Journal, a bi-weekly publication.  The column highlights important issues in goods movement and international trade and features CITT activities, including research findings.
     

    Southern California’s Role As A Major Trade Gateway

    Last week’s announcement that longshoremen and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative deal on health benefits was welcome news to an industry still recovering from a nearly decade-long economic buffeting. A new contract will allow everyone to get back to the business at hand: moving cargo. While that means tracking TEU volumes at the port, the health and well-being of the goods movement industry also depends on other trade sectors. This includes air cargo.

    Pursuing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) 8/19-9/1/2014

    Negotiations continue between management and dockworkers over the next longshore contract for West Coast ports. There’s been little word from San Francisco, where the negotiations are taking place, as both sides have remained tight lipped. You can bet that one point of contention is the use of technology at the ports and what it means for union jobs on the waterfront. Regardless of the outcome, the use of technology throughout the supply chain will only grow. California faces significant transportation capacity challenges to meet current goods movement demand and to expand the state’s central role in global trade. Technology, including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), will have to be one of the solutions if we’re going to keep pace.

    Freight From Farm to Market 7/22-8/4/2014

    The contract negotiations that are currently taking place in San Francisco between dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association will have impacts far beyond the ports. A contract agreement for West Coast longshoremen keeps the supply chains moving for goods that use the ports on their way to final markets in this country, or in the case of exports, across the globe. This includes California’s agricultural exports. This state’s agricultural supply chain is a major user of the transportation system. California produces nearly one-half of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables and also is a major producer of livestock and livestock products. Farm-to-market goods depend upon not only working ports but on a network of interstate highways, state roads and small, rural roads, some of which have not been designed to support large trucks.

    Sustainable Freight? 6/24-7/7/ 2014

    The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners preliminarily approved two incentive programs designed to bring cargo to the port by helping to reduce the cost of complying with environmental measures. The first of the two programs waives dockage fees for ships that reduce speeds as they approach the ports and use shoreside power or other pollution- cutting technologies at berth. The second program will offer a $5- per-container incentive for cargo that travels by on-dock rail – and not truck– from the port.

    E-Commerce and Omni-Channel: 5/26/14

    The approaching end of the academic year does not bring me the same sense of closure it once did. Yes, students graduate; and this is a source of tremendous pride. But like my chosen discipline–logistics–education is much more of a just-in time business these days. Students are much more demanding about what, when and how they study. And a lot more of the educational product is customized, once again just like an agile supply chain. If school is not yet a 24/7 operation, it is at least a year round one. This year, we spent a lot of time discussing the changing nature of retail, including e-commerce and product customization, and what it means for not only distribution but the entire supply chain.

    The State's Other Ports: 4/28/14

    Caltrans is currently developing a California Freight Mobility Plan, a blueprint for goods movement that addresses all modes of transport across the entire state. As a planning document it is designed to “promote economic growth, encourage job creation, and increase mobility, while enhancing public safety and security and addressing the environmental challenges of moving goods via the State’s highways, railways, airports, and seaports.” Those seaports include not only the big three–LA, Long Beach and Oakland–but others in California that provide valuable trade related services to the state and national economy.

    Creating a Border: 3/18/14

    Despite the high profile nature of U.S trade relations with China, Canada and Mexico are also vitally important to the health of the trade sector and, as a result, the nation’s economic well being. Canada is the U.S.’s largest trading partner, responsible for 16.4% of all of this nation’s trade in goods according to U.S. government figures. Mexico is responsible for 13.2% of our trade, just behind China.

    Inland Connections: 3/3/14

    The success of our ports depends upon a complex network of relationships between partners up and down the supply chain. That list of partners includes ocean carriers, truckers, rail companies and others who handle the cargo on its way from origin to destination. Since the early 2000s, there has been a renewed interest by some stakeholders in developing inland ports as a means of improving the competitiveness and efficiency of our trade hubs, including the ports.

    Big Ship Ready: 1/21/14

    Ocean carriers have responded to competitive pressures, particularly in the wake of the economic downturn, by seeking to reduce operational costs. One solution has been to run larger, more efficient ships on major trade lanes. Larger vessels allow for economies of scale and new ship designs allow for more fuel efficient operations. The largest of the new vessels are referred to as the Triple E class, which stands for energy, efficiency, and environmental improvements and will carry up to 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The ships can reach up to 1,300 feet long and 200 feet wide.

    Strong Leadership Provides Blueprint for Moving Forward: 12/3/13

    It hasn’t been the easiest of times of late for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Both ports have interim executive directors, a common enough occurrence in an industry where port leadership reflects the changing nature of local politics. But it’s also an industry that dislikes uncertainty, and the recent unrest at the Long Beach Harbor Commission in particular has elicited a fairly vocal response from industry leaders and some elected officials who have offered a cautionary reminder about the impact of that uncertainty on our region’s competitiveness and the port’s reputation.

    A Message from the Freight Industry: 10/22/13

    The International Urban Freight (INUF) Conference was held October 8-10 in Long Beach. Previously known as the National Urban Freight Conference, this fifth version of the event was renamed I-NUF to better reflect the global nature of the conference, its themes, and its presenters.

    The Value of Looking Back: 8/27/13

    In the research community–whether public or private sector, academia or industry–we tend to appreciate the latest and greatest, the state of the art. But research is about developing our cumulative knowledge on a topic. As a result, the research and development process begins with a review of the work already done, an identification of the gaps in our knowledge base, and a justification of how the work we are doing now moves that collective knowledge forward.

    Public-Private Partnerships for Freight: 7/2/13

    The Harbor Transportation Club (HTC) recently held its annual mid-year review. It’s a good opportunity for the industry, including the ports, to provide an update on the progress they’re making preparing for (what everyone hopes is) the upcoming peak season and beyond. After years of delay on several key projects, there is a real sense of pride – not to mention relief – that major capital improvement projects are underway. These include high profile projects like the Gerald Desmond Bridge and the Middle Harbor project as well as less visible but perhaps equally important improvements to terminals, rail facilities and roadways.
     

    When Postponement Means Something Other Than a Delay: 6/4/13

    Last month the Center for International Trade and Transportation at CSULB hosted its annual Town Hall meeting. The topic was efficiency and competitiveness and what both mean for jobs in the region. Supply chains are dynamic, and the most successful companies find a way to use logistics in order to combine efficient operations with customer service. Companies that manage to do both usually define the standard against which others are measured. Regions that facilitate efficient operations (through reliable infrastructure and services, available labor and predictable regulatory measures) tend to win as well. Companies want to locate there. That means jobs.
     

    Local Mobility and Global Trade: 5/7/13

    Long Beach recently released a draft version of the Mobility Element for the city’s General Plan. According to the city, the Mobility Element is designed to establish “an overview of the transportation infrastructure and multimodal strategies for the movement of people and goods.” It is not surprising that a place that is home to the nation’s second largest port includes the movement of goods in a discussion of mobility along with other topics more commonly addressed by general plans. These include passenger traffic, public transit, pedestrian-serving uses and bicycling.

    End of Semester Grades: 4/23/13

    In the academic world, Easter marks the beginning of the home stretch for students and teachers alike. But before the pleasures of a summer respite comes the hard work that reveals itself in final papers and exams. A summer break is so much more pleasurable when the end-of-semester grades are good. The same can be said of the goods movement industry. It has its own calendar of peak seasons in the run up to the Christmas holiday and down times like the Chinese New Year. But the industry can’t afford to grade itself only once a year. It needs to continually take stock of the health and well being of the various parts that move the goods – including the infrastructure that makes it all possible – as well as the marketplace.

    Rightshoring: 2/12/13

    FedEx is the Memphis region’s largest employer. According to company officials, some 35,000 people directly depend on either the full-time or part-time employment opportunities that it offers. Despite high levels of automation and technology-based systems that manage both package handling and information flows, the logistics industry there helps to support the regional economy. In a place the size of Memphis, that’s relatively easy to discern.

    Serving the Last Mile: 1/15/13

    The process of purchasing a going business generally includes deciding whether to purchase Southern California is a trade gateway, and I write often about the freight traffic that passes through our ports on its way to the rest of the country. The focus is usually on the policy measures taken to mitigate the impact of operations on communities in the immediate vicinity of the ports, and along the rail corridors and highways leading to the rest of the region and the country as a whole. But some of what we see being unloaded on ships is destined for local consumption or is transloaded from international containers into larger domestic containers before leaving the region. Some 45 percent of the containers imported through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach make a local stop at a transload facility.
     

    Beyond the Border: Once Cleared, Twice Accepted, 10/9/12

    In an election year, everyone’s looking for a competitive edge or someone to blame. The Democrats and Republicans are doing a good job of pointing the finger at each other. This might be one of the reasons why a recently released report on U.S. inland containerized cargo moving through Canadian and Mexican seaports has flown under the radar screen.
     

    Mapping Out the Future of Goods Movement, 8/28/12

    In early July, President Obama signed a 27-month, $105 billion surface transportation bill. Called MAP-21, an acronym for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st century, the bill was significant simply because it managed to get out of Congress. The prior surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired in September 2009. Since then, the nation’s transportation programs have depended on continuing resolutions from Congress, essentially stopgap measures that more or less sustained existing programs but provided no real guidance about the future direction of infrastructure investments.

    Best Laid Plans, 7/17-7/30, 2012

    The cargo shift will have to wait a little while longer. For the past few years, the most popular game in the international trade industry has been “Who wins from an expanded Panama Canal?” The early bets were on the East Coast ports, which were gearing up to take advantage of bigger ships transiting the Canal and bypassing the West Coast all together. Then the pendulum shifted back to the West Coast once it became clear that the infrastructure improvements needed for the East Coast to take advantage of the expansion were not yet completed. Others suggested it wasn’t necessarily a zero-sum game. Now we know we’ll have to wait a little while longer to find out who
    is correct.

    The Future Needs of The Transportation Industry 6/19-7/2/2012

    There was a little bit of good news mixed in with some sobering reality at the National Transportation Workforce Development Summit held in Washington, D.C., in April. The summit identified gaps in our transportation workforce development efforts and offered solutions from a wide range of participants from all parts of the transportation industry, government and the education sector.

    No Matter Their Location On The Globe, Ports Have Similarities 6/5-6/18/2012

    Tom O'Brien recently returned from a visit to the Port of Antwerp, Belgium. As a researcher and educator, a visit like this is a valuable opportunity to see the supply chain in action in different parts of the world and to learn if the programs developed here in Southern California have found an outlet in other places. 

    Thriving or Surviving? 3/13- 3/26/12

    On March 28, the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) at California State University, Long Beach will host our 2012 Point/Counterpoint event. This year’s topic is “The Future of Southern California Goods Movement: Will We Survive or Thrive in 2025?” Container volumes at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are projected to significantly increase by 2025. In 2011, the ports moved approximately 14 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Experts predict that the number of containers handled in 2025 will be 25 million. The question on the table is this: are we ready or not to accommodate the projected growth?

    The Goods Movement Industry-"Connections" Matter To Us 1/31-2/13/12

    The annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB)  brings together more than 10,000 people from every part of the transportation world (and from all over the world) to share research and discuss common interests. This includes people from every segment of the freight and logistics industry, regulatory agencies and people in education.
     
    It’s an important opportunity for someone from Southern California. While there is more than enough for a student of the industry to learn from what goes on in and around the nation’s largest container port complex, it’s worth being reminded that as a trade hub, we’re connected to a much larger network that stretches from the international trading bloc to the nation to the neighborhood.
     

    Labor A Selling Point For Regional Competitiveness 12/20- 1/16/12

    Last week the Occupy movement set its sights on the West Coast ports. Protesters attempted to disrupt operations at ports from California to Canada, targeting what they described as the economic apparatus of the 1 percent. In Southern California, that meant terminal operators like SSA Marine, chosen in part because its majority shareholder is Goldman Sachs. Some opposition was also directed at the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG), a proposed intermodal facility to be operated by the BNSF Railway Company.

    Cap and Global Trade 11/22-12/5/11

    On October 20, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a statewide cap-and-trade program, the first of its kind in the nation. Cap-and-trade is a market-based approach to reducing carbon emissions. Under the program, industries are allowed to trade carbon credits in an attempt to meet state mandates to bring back carbon pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. The program will be administered by CARB.

    Industry, Government and Academic Leaders 10/25-11/7/11

    The recent news that the U.S. Congress passed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea garnered a lot of attention in the U.S. press, and rightly so. The negotiation process for each was painstaking, the outcomes uncertain, and the implications great for the entire country. For Southern California, our geographic proximity to the Pacific Rim and our financial, institutional and cultural connections to South Korea in particular mean that a new trade agreement is an opportunity for the entire region.

    Smart Use of Equipment 9/13-9/26/11

    The economic downturn has not eliminated the pressure on the Ports of LA and Long Beach to operate more efficiently. One way for ports to become more efficient is through better equipment management, including chassis. Major changes underway in how the industry manages chassis may mean changes for the ports as well.

    Keeping Us Honest 8/16-8/29/11

    For the academic community, it is a constant challenge to make sure that research remains useful and relevant.   The goods movement industry can be a particularly tough audience. Until very recently it was rare to find someone engaging in formal logistics and supply chain management training in school. The assumption was that you had to learn on the job. Industry will have a chance to talk to researchers as part of a panel called “What Researchers Need to Know about Industry” at the upcoming METRANS-sponsored National Urban Freight (NUF) Conference here in Long Beach. The conference takes place October 12-14 and is designed to examine the impacts of goods movement and international trade in metropolitan areas.

    No Summer Doldrums on Goods Movement Front 8/2-8/15/11

    On the goods movement front, it’s been an unusually busy summer; and the fall is shaping up to be busy as well. From court cases to major policy initiatives in Washington to new technology, there’s enough news to follow that matters to a trade gateway like ours.

    Taking Stock of the Past, Looking Forward to the Future 7/5-7/19-11

    Recently, the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) hosted a three-part webinar series that allowed the goods movement industry in general to survey the recent past and look at what lies ahead. The series, called Cargo and Jobs: Still Ours to Lose? began with a look at how shippers (and their agents) choose ports, focusing on what decision-makers value. The second webinar considered the competitiveness of Southern California and recent industry efforts to promote the advantages of the region as a trade gateway.  The last of the series attempted to identify the challenges ahead.  This article summarizes the findings from the series.

    Still Ours to Lose 5/24-6/7/2011

    Last October, the Center for International Trade and Transportation hosted a Point/Counterpoint event called Panama Canal Expansion: The Battle for Jobs and Cargo, Who Wins? Who Loses? Who Decides?  To revisit the issues that were raised at the Point/Counterpoint forum, this spring CITT is hosting a three-part lunch time webinar series called Cargo and Jobs: Still Ours to Lose? In this article, Director of Research Tom O’Brien looks at what has changed in the last eight months and why the questions are still relevant.

    Back to Civics Class 4/26-5/9/11

    Recently, CITT Director of Research Tom O’Brien  was asked to speak to a group of logistics students from Korea. The topic was “The Role of Government in Moving Goods in the U.S.” Preparing a lesson plan for a group of students not familiar with our political, social and economic structures proved to be a challenging but valuable experience.

    Keeping Up With The Neighbors 3/15-3/28/11

    In early March, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) hosted a conference called "Collaborators and Competitors: Understanding the Connections between Canadian, American and Mexican West Coast Ports and Gateway Regions." The purpose of this gathering of researchers, industry representatives and government officials was to explore the common trends that influence the economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability of Pacific coast ports and their surrounding areas.

    Aiming for Clarity 2/15- 2/28/11

    With trade volumes up at both our local ports there is reason to believe, as many suggest, that international trade will lead the recovery. But the governor still has a massive budget crisis on his hands, and actions taken in Sacramento to raise revenue, cut spending, or do both will help determine how ready the state will be to compete in the global trade arena, and whether or not it is viewed as a partner by not only the ports but the rest of the supply chain as well.

    Competitors and Collaborators 1/18-1/31/11

    In March 2011 CITT will host a conference titled  “Collaborators and Competitors: Understanding the Connections Between Canadian, American and Mexican West Coast Ports and Gateway Regions.” The conference will explore the common trends that influence the economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability of Canadian, U.S. and Mexican Pacific Port Gateway Regions as well as the unique pressures that drive policy making at the national, state/provincial and local levels.  This article considers some of those trends and pressures.

    Social Sustainability and the Supply Chain 12/7- 12/20/2010

    As Governor Schwarzenegger leaves office, some will remember him as the one responsible for vetoing container fee legislation, a move that had the support of the goods movement industry. But one of his last actions as Governor –signing Darrell Steinberg’s Senate Bill (SB) 657, also known as the California Supply Chain Transparency Act of 2010 - was opposed by many in the business community. The Supply Chain Transparency Act requires retailers and manufacturers doing business in California to publicly disclose on their Web sites the policies they have voluntarily put in place to eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.

    So Now What? 11/9-11/22/10

    The elections are over, and the Monday morning quarterbacking has begun.  For the local trade and transportation community results at the national, state and local level are all of interest because of what they could mean for goods movement  and how trade-related infrastructure is funded.

    Panama Canal Expansion: Who Wins, Who Loses, Who Decides? 10/26- 11/8/10

    The debate over the Panama Canal reflects a larger debate about the role that international trade can and will play in our future.  Is it ok for Southern California to remain home to the largest port complex in North America regardless of market share, or should we be competing for new business to signal our willingness to keep pace with the changes occurring around us?

    Elections 9/14-9/27/10

    It's Election season and that means ballot initiatives that could have an impact on the trade and transportation community. In this piece, Tom O'Brien considers what Prop 23 means for the industry.

    Different Technologies, Same Issues 8/3-8/16/10


    On June 30, the members of the Office Clerical Unit (OCU) of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) walked off the job when the OCU contract expired. Predicting the outcome of this – or any other - year’s negotiations is difficult, however.  A lot of the issues on the table look familiar, including the question of labor-saving technology, but the stakes change from one contract period to another.

    Latest Attempt At A National Freight Transportation Policy 7/6- 7/19/10

    Jefferson. Lincoln. Lowenthal? In May of this year State Senator Alan Lowenthal introduced Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 33, which requests that Congress adopt a national freight policy as a component of the next federal transportation bill. It turns out it was not the first attempt of its kind.

    Taking the Long View 6/22-7/5/2010

    If nothing else, a global recession gives us all an opportunity to brush up on our economic history. When times are bad, there is at least some comfort in knowing that previous recessions led to recoveries which led to further economic growth. Taking the long view gives us some perspective and reminds us that what appears to be a dramatic shift in the economy might very well be a blip on the radar screen, a brief departure from our normal trajectory.

    Thinking Outside The Box 5/25- 6/7/2010

    Containerized trade isn’t the only kind of cargo moving through our local ports. If you want to get a sense of the state of global trade, you need to also look at non-containerized cargo for signs of an economic recovery.

    Different Shades of Green 4/13- 4/26/10

    Since the adoption of the Clean Air Action Plan in 2006, the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach have argued that going green is good business as well as the right thing to do. Some recent trends from across the country suggest that this might be the case.

    Northern Perspective 3/30--4/12/2010

    As the dominant ports along the west coast, increasing activity on the trans-Pacific trade lanes should mean continued good news for L.A. and Long Beach.   With container volumes up around 30% at both ports since February 2008 and the National Retail Federation expecting these figures to be sustained throughout the first half of 2010, expect to see rival ports looking to take advantage of this economic turnaround to  gain market share.

    Making a Promise to Long Beach 2/16-3/1/10

    The Long Beach College Promise, created by CSULB, LBCC and LAUSD, offers the opportunity of a college education to students in the Long Beach Unified School District, while seeking to increase the percentage of LBUSD students prepared to attend college directly from high school.  The Promise guarantees that LBUSD and LBCC students who complete transfer requirements for the CSU system will have a place at CSULB.

    Transportation Systems: Finding The Right People With The Right Knowledge 2/2- 2/15-2010

    To gain comparative advantage in today’s global marketplace, the right infrastructure, education and skills which allow people to innovate are essential.  The right people with the right knowledge and skills to build and maintain world-class transportation systems is key.

    Ensuring the Growth of California's Transportation Workforce 12/22/09-1/6/10

    This article considers the challenges that California's universities face in preparing students with real-world skills to enter the transportation workforce and the effects of changing demographics on the transportation sector.

    Road of the TIGER 11/24-12/7-09

     6 major US west coast ports have agreed to collaborate to make the case for trade through the region.  To succeed, they need to convince policymakers in Washington of the benefits of investing here for the rest of the country.

    Competitive Visioning 9/29/09-10/12/09

    Decision makers discuss the market readiness of technologies being considered to remake goods movement in Southern California, but no consensus exists regarding the future of trade in our region. The community and private industry have competing vision. Can they co-exist?

    The Right Training for the Right Job 10/13/09-10/26/09

    Trained engineers, logisticians, planners, IT specialists etc. are needed to fill the next generation of jobs in the trade and transportation sectors.  For economic recovery, job (re)training programs for all ages must be adequate to prepare workers for future opportunities.

    The Legacy of Containerization 8/4/09- 8/17/09

    Containerization, arguably the greatest innovation in world trade in the 20th century, allows for a true intermodal system in this country. Maersk launches a national chassis pool, providing the next significant step in the evolution of intermodal goods movement in the U.S. 

    "I'm Just A Bill..." 7/7/09-07/20/09

    On September 30th, 2009 the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU): A Legacy for Users, expires. A new surface transportation bill will have to balance the needs of the various transportation interests across the country, including freight. The shape of the bill may not be known for some time. 
     

    Getting Ready for Recovery 6/9/09-6/22/2009

    The rapid growth of containerized trade over the past decade has resulted in tremendous congestion at major trade gateways.Hoping that the worst of the economic crisis is over, the international trade community has started thinking about the future.  That means dealing with inefficiencies in the transport system and limited infrastructure capacity.

    No Longer the Front-Page Story, But Still News 5/26/09- 6/8/09

    The Long Beach City Council unanimously approves the Middle Harbor Project, a $750 million plan to modernize and expand two terminals at the port.  But there may be more to come, including an appeal by the City of Riverside and further opposition from environmental and community groups.

    Laying the Groundwork for Innovation in Goods Movement 4/28/09-5/4/09


    Having a need for operational strategies and technologies to address the growth in trade that has occurred over the past decade, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, in conjunction with the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority, have released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). By indentifying firms and academic institutions that can develop and demonstrate a financially self-sufficient, zero-emissions container-mover system for the region, the RFQ helps to lay the groundwork for innovation in goods movement.

    Ten Years of University Industry Partnership 3/3-3/16/2009

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of the State of the Trade and Transportation Industry Town Hall meeting, sponsored by California State University’s Center for International Trade and Transportation and the METRANS Transportation Center. The Town Hall has been a unique partnership of the university and industry that fosters information exchange and positively contributes to the resolution of port-related conflicts.

    Goods Movement and Good Neighbors II- 2/17/09-3/2/09

    After attempting to make predictions about key issues confronting the goods movement industry in 2008, my year-end report card shows that I got the issues right but the emphasis wrong.  Though I feel it’s safe to predict that 2009 will see a lot more uncertainty with the same unresolved issues plaguing local ports, I will hold off on predictions and take an incomplete.

    The Front Lines and Fault Lines of Global Trade- 2/3- 2/16/09

    The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are inextricably linked to the rest of the world.  Discussions at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting remind us that there are many front lines where battles over trade are fought, and fault lines that can trigger economic disruptions all over the world.

    A Goods Movement Report Card 12/23/08-1/5/09

    A year ago at this time, I attempted to make my best predictions about the key issues which would be confronting the goods movement industry in 2008. This is my own year-end report card. In general, I got the issues right but the emphasis wrong. At the end of 2007, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were looking at a down year in terms of imports. Exports however were a bright spot; and there was some hope that a good Christmas season would help the industry end the year on a positive note.

    West Cost Container Volumes: Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? - 12/9-12/22/08

    A consequence of today’s poor economy is reduced activity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Is it realistic to expect that places like LA and Long Beach can maintain their dominance over the east and Gulf Coasts? Two reports come to different conclusions. While Drewry Shipping Consultants suggest that up to 25% of the US west coast ports’ present cargo base could be lost to the east coast, the Tioga Group predicts that by 2020, all west coast ports will have exceeded 80% of their capacity.  Only time will tell if the glass is half empty or half full. 

    Beyond the Port: Goods Movement Depends on Vast Network of Workers, Industries, Services in Cities like Carson- 10/14-10/27/08

    Though a discussion of goods movement in Southern California inevitably starts with Los Angeles and Long Beach, global gateways lead to a vast network of people, places and services that make the region a center for trade and logistics. As a center for manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution, Carson is one of these places. Though sometimes overlooked, Carson’s contribution to the vitality of the international trade sector in our region is significant.

    Revolution or Evolution Underway at the Ports-9/30-10/13/08

    Revolution or Evolution Underway at the Ports? 09/30/08 – 10/13/08 The Clean Air Action Plan, which includes the Clean Trucks Program implemented on October 1st, 2008, begins a new era of cooperative efforts by LA and Long Beach to address the environmental impacts of trade-related operations.  The question is whether the changes underway are truly revolutionary or part of an evolution from legislatively mandated environmental regulations to more port-directed  environmental policy.

    The Trade and Transportation Workforce Development Challenge-8/5-8/18/08

     The Trade and Transportation Workforce Development Challenge: 08/05/08 – 08/18/08 The transportation industry is facing a workforce development crisis. Over 50% of the State’s transportation workforce who plan for and engineer the networks which carry both people and goods is set to retire  by 2013.  Along with changing trends in technology, service delivery, and a new demographic seeking emplolyment, transportation agencies are being forced  to consider the role that job recruitment and job retention play in their training strategies.  An effective response to these challenges will ensure Southern California’s ability to build and maintain transportation systems that will keep pace with the rest of the world.

    Laying the Groundwork for Effective Trade-Related Partnerships-6/10-6/23/08

    Effective freight policy requires coordination as well as collaboration among public and private interests and across traditional lines that divide jurisdictions. The National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP), sponsored by the US Department of Transportation and the Transportation Research Board in Washington, is working to develop a national research agenda that lays the groundwork for effective trade-related partnerships

    Things Not So Clear on Environmental Clearance at the Ports-5/13-5/26/08

    The Port of Los Angeles announces an agreement with a coalition of environmental and community groups for the expansion of the Trapac terminal only to have it appealed.   In hopes of avoiding further appeals and litigation, which delay the development process, the port plans to get the environmental impact review right the first time.

    World Trade Week, Emphasis on World-4/29-5/12/08

    As people gather for World Trade Week, local issues will be on everyone’s mind. These include the Ports’ Clean Truck Program, the Trapac expansion and the proposed Southern California Intermodal Gateway.  With so much to focus on at the local level, World Trade Week reminds us that trade involves a complex network of national and international players as well.

    Trade and Transportation on the Campaign Trail- 2/19- 3/4/08

    In  the  run-up  to  the  February  5  Super  Tuesday  primary  in  California, both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama went on the record in support of the Ports of LA  and Long Beach’s  clean  truck program,  including  the controversial proposal to grant employee status to truck drivers. 

    In For The Long Haul- 1/22- 2/4/08

    Though Southern California appears to be at a disadvantage due to the perception that PierPASS, clean truck and infrastructure fees make our ports less competitive, long-term outlooks for the region may prove more favorable.  By addressing environmental concerns now, Southern California may get ahead of the curve before other ports have to address them as well.

    Auto & Ports Have Enjoyed Long, Positive Relationship- 12/4-12/18/07

    For the last 50 years, the San Pedro Bay ports have been the major discharge location for imports of finished automobiles and the port of origin for US cars destined for foreign markets. The ports have enjoyed a long and positive relationship with the automobile industry, and parts designed for Southern California assembly plants have moved through the ports since 1914 when Ford opened his first assembly plant at 7th and Santa Fe.

    Holiday Wish List for the Industry- 11/20- 12/4/07

    With the holidays approaching, we are reminded how much we rely upon freight-related businesses to “deliver the goods” during the season. Though more certainty in goods movement may top our wish list for the industries and businesses along the supply chain, it seems the only certainty is that this wish won’t be fulfilled by Christmas.

    US Treads Water as Other Countries Pursue National Goods Movement Strategies- 10/23-11/6/07

    National Goods Movement Strategies: 10/23/07 – 11/06/07 The controversy over the San Pedro Bay Ports' Clean Truck Progam is a reminder that so many of our goods movement solutions are locally driven, even if the problems are national or even global in scope. 

    Footing the Bill for Port Security-9/25-10/9/07

    In the wake of 9/11, the federal government has been the driving force in setting security mandates using the legislative process. This includes last year’s SAFE Port Act. Unfortunately for our local ports, the mandates continue to come without the money to implement them.

    Calm Before the Storm? Port Industry Braces for Dockworker-PMA Negotiations- 8/14-8/28/07

    Though we are in the midst of the peak season at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, not all of the activity has been on the docks. Last month the focus was on the negotiating table and port observers anxiously awaited word on a contract agreement between terminal operators and marine clerks.