AAPA Seaports

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GUEST VIEWPOINT: Port Partnerships for Strategic Positioning and Success

As much as individual ports may differ, major changes in the world shipping market have required changes in how all ports view themselves and their competitive positions. 

By Richard Steinke, Moffatt & Nichol

For many of us in the maritime industry, the old adage, “When you’ve seen one port, you’ve seen one port!” is certainly true. As delegates come to Long Beach for the 2017 AAPA Annual convention, one can see just how true it is by viewing the four ports of Southern California.

San Diego to the south and Hueneme to the northwest are both roughly 100 miles from the two San Pedro Bay ports. Each port leverages its respective strengths to increase trade and economic benefits for its region. San Diego balances cargo activity and cruises with a vibrant commercial and recreational waterfront. Hueneme has carved out an essential niche for handling autos and fruits for Californian importers and exporters. The load centers of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the container workhorses of the U.S. West Coast and handled over 15 million TEUs in 2016. Each of these ports is unique and essential to the economic well-being of both the state and nation, as a whole.

As much as individual ports may differ, major changes in the world shipping market have required changes in how all ports view themselves and their competitive positions. Mergers and acquisitions, new and changing carrier alliances, bigger mega ships, more competitive routing alternatives, e-commerce and environmental initiatives have all impacted international supply chains. As an integral link in that chain, ports must continuously analyze and adjust to these dynamics that they do not necessarily control.

So, what do ports do to ensure they are not left behind? What can they do to validate their initiatives, capital programs and long-term infrastructure investments? Can they accurately forecast cargo volumes to justify improvements to their wharves, terminals, bridges and railways?

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