Economist sees East, Gulf coasts served by Cuba, Nova Scotia
The U.S. East and Gulf coasts can expect to be significantly served by a
pair of transshipment hubs – ideally in Cuba and Canada's province of
Nova Scotia – a leading port industry economist said today [Feb. 2].
Robert W. West, Waltham, Massachusetts-based chief senior consultant for
the Colombia-based DUAGA consulting firm and former Worley Parsons Group
principal ports and marine strategist, offered the theory in the opening
presentation of the 10th annual Planning for Shifting Trade Conference
in Tampa, Florida.
West said Cuba's Port of Mariel is "in many ways the most ideal
location" for a major Caribbean transshipment center, while he expects
one or more of a trio of Nova Scotia port developments serving as a
northern hub. In response to a question from the American Journal of
Transportation, West expressed uncertainty regarding the potential
impact upon future Cuba transshipment prospects of Trump administration
policies and the recent threats by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to pull
funding from Sunshine State ports engaging in commerce with Cuba.
"The point here is not a political point," West said. "The point is an
"As we know, politics can mess things up, but I'm not saying it's going
to happen here," he continued. "To me, Cuba looks like a great
opportunity for transshipment."
West said Nova Scotia transshipment opportunities include at the
Macquarie Group's Halifax undertaking, facilities being developed by DP
World at Saint John and/or the future Novaport project in Sydney in
which Ports America has recently expressed interest.
He said new leadership in Washington does combine with factors such as
consolidation of global containership capacity to create a future
outlook he termed "certainly uncertain."
Noting that nearly half of all the world's containership capacity is in
the hands of the three biggest shipping lines – Maersk/Hamburg Süd,
Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM/APL – West said he anticipates
that three or four major alliances will ultimately control between 75
percent and 80 percent of global container volume.
West said he believes 2017 freight rates "will remain lower than we
would want them to be, with too much capacity chasing too little demand."
Of the 325 ships, representing 8 percent of world fleet capacity,
currently not in operation, West said, "It's too much. We really need to
squeeze that out."
West said that, with the Transpacific Partnership having been torpedoed,
he sees potential for expansion of the Pacific Alliance, which currently
includes Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile and is likely to soon add
Costa Rica and Panama, as well as Asian nations. But West said his
suspicion is that the United States will not join the Pacific Alliance.
The overall 2017 economic outlook for the Western Hemisphere is seen by
West as improving over 2016, including with 2.9 percent U.S. growth
compared with 1.6 percent last year.
"We're pretty optimistic; I can't say we're exuberant," he said. "2017
should be an up year for cargo, for consumers, for government
expenditures, all of which should stimulate the economy."
The Feb. 2-3 conference, hosted by Port Tampa Bay, is presented by the
American Association of Port Authorities and the Transportation Research
Board in partnership with the Florida Chapter of the American Planning
Association and in cooperation with the U.S.; Maritime Administration.
Comprehensive coverage of the conference is slated to appear in the Feb.
13 edition of the American Journal of Transportation.
Source: Economist sees East, Gulf coasts served by Cuba, Nova Scotia
transshipment hubs | AJOT.COM -