IHS Maritime & Trade senior economist Mario Moreno warned that exporters face a stagnating world economy, a strong US dollar and China’s slowdown in imports, as well as the potential impact of amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea convention and the requirement to provide a verified gross mass certificate.
But on the plus side, Iran is opening up to foreign trade.
Moffatt & Nichol chief economist Walter Kemmsies told the conference: “The US has a comparative advantage in agriculture, capital goods and the energy sector, which have a growing market."
Mr Kemmsies said the current weak state of the export market is one of the greatest impediments to US economic prosperity and growth.
Although the US dollar’s strength makes it more expensive for other countries to import from the US, Mr Kemmsies said the strong currency was only a temporary obstacle. Weak infrastructure was a bigger concern that the industry needs to address.
“The deteriorating US inland infrastructure is a serious problem and it won’t be resolved by the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, but the improvement on the Mississippi waterway,” he said.
Panellist Larry Gross, a partner at FTR Transportation Intelligence, added the stronger dollar and weak overseas economies have together created difficult export conditions, even with rock bottom freight rates, which are at all-time lows.
However, in the long term, analysis showed plenty of international potential for US exporters, he added.
In January this year, American Association of Port Authorities' president Kurt Nagle noted at the ninth AAPA's annual Shifting International Trade Routes conference in Tampa, Florida, that the US needed a robust transportation infrastructure system to handle increasing demand for goods.