By Leaps And Bounds

Some who’ve commented on the McKinsey Global Survey of Business Executives, published in the November 2004 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly, indicated that most responses were influenced by last month’s presidential election. Analysts reported that some 16,500 business people in 148 countries expressed declining confidence, citing the weak dollar, volatile oil prices, and geopolitical uncertainties, but they failed to report other aspects of the survey. For example, although pessimistic on the question of Trade Liberalization, responses were positive in the categories of Economic Growth, Global Business Climate, and Your Business. Did the analysts present an accurate interpretation of this global questionnaire to those in the transportation industry who may be required to make operating decisions in the coming months? Consider just some of the moves that have already been brought to our attention by maritime reporters.

• CMA CGM is increasing the size of several of the nine ships now on order, from 8,200 TEU to 9,163 TEU.
• NY/NJ Port Authority has embarked upon a $ 1 billion expansion program.
• NY/NJ Port Authority and army engineers have begun a $ 2.25 billion dredging project.
• 75% of the nation’s purchasing and supply executives surveyed in the 68th Semiannual Economic Forecast of the Institute for Management and Supply expect strengthened economic growth in the U.S. in 2005.
• Maher Terminals announced an agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority in British Columbia to create a new intermodal container terminal on Canada’s West Coast, to be called the Prince Rupert Container Terminal.
• A second port, Fraser Port, on the Fraser River close by Vancouver, is also being developed as a container port.
• Hutchison Whampoa has committed millions to the development of at least three container terminals on Mexico’s West Coast, in the ports of Ensenada, Manzanillo, and Lazaro Cardenas.
• The Port of Rotterdam, with government approval and partial financing has announced development of a multi-billion dollar 8.5 million TEU container terminal, with a scheduled opening date of 2010.
• Also in Holland, PSA International announced the development in Antwerp of a new $ 580 million 3.75 TEU container terminal.
• Le Havre is progressing on expanding its annual container terminal capacity by another 3 million TEU by the year 2006.
• A 15% increase in Europe-Asia volume in 2005 has been projected by the Far Eastern Freight Conference, and charterers are already booking for the year 2007.
• China, the dominant factor in the Asia-Pacific region, is exporting goods to Europe at an even faster rate than to the U.S.

Contrary to occasional pessimistic forecasts, none of the above steps indicate a weakening of resolve in the maritime industry. What is indicated is a growth rate of unmanageable proportions.