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A small growth in fleet capacity suggests that significant revenues increases are unlikely to be seen this year which will continue to wield financial pressure on freight rates. Although there were a couple of exceptions on eastbound trans-pacific trade lanes where we saw performance soar – this unfortunately can be traced back to shippers and manufactures amassing materials before the tariffs took effect. After more consolidation over the previous 3 years than were seen in the preceding 20 years, the continued fallout from shipping mergers and alliances, big ships and assorted initiatives to manage maritime economies of scale and boost revenues also comes under further scrutiny.
Global economic expansion, and particularly trade growth, have fared better than anticipated over the last 12 months in both advanced and emerging markets and this is echoed in healthier port volumes across the region and worldwide. This is welcome news for the industry especially considering the continued challenges that continue to be exerted in the wake of fundamental changes to American, Chinese and European protectionist trade policies, the altering of established trade pacts and the ongoing trade war between the world’s two leading economies showing no signs of abating. Reducing barriers within the international supply chain could increase global trade by approximately 15% and provide a much-needed boost to economies and create jobs.
With an astounding $14.2 trillion of new global wealth to be realised through Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum, now is the time for industry members to join up and develop comprehensive innovation strategies which will enable information to flow much more seamlessly between the many different players and actors who make up today’s often lengthy, opaque and fragmented supply chains. Digital platforms are widely viewed as the cornerstone of the next phase, combining disparate data flows on a massive scale. But concerns have been raised about how to manage the proliferation of new platforms without simply creating new competing data silos, with recent calls and initiatives for more standards and protocols to facilitate open interfaces and information interchange between multiple platforms and enterprise systems. Governments and industry now need to work together to create frameworks that can unlock the value of digital while safeguarding data privacy, ownership and security.
Continued pressure being exerted on ports by shipping lines to invest in new and upgraded infrastructure sees ports straddled on the horns of a dilemma and the need to look forward and develop ‘The port of the future’. A port which has the ability to gather, analyse, and distribute data that can be turned into information and useful knowledge and inform decision making through smart technologies. Driven by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, the ‘port of the future’ will be a critical part of the supply chain, the city’s infrastructure and eco-system and assist in overcoming current challenges of ports - spatial constraints, pressure on productivity, fiscal limitations and the need to be green.