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Notes from the session there never was

Last fall, I was scheduled to serve as a moderator for an industry conference. I always like playing this part, as it is a great networking tool, and I usually learn a bunch of stuff, all while getting… By Jeff Berman




Last fall, I was scheduled to serve as a moderator for an industry conference. I always like playing this part, as it is a great networking tool, and I usually learn a bunch of stuff, all while getting some good branding in for Logistics Management.

I was well-prepared for my session, what with my notes and questions at the ready. But there was a catch, due to a flight scheduling error (of my own) I realized I would never make my return flight in time. That was mildly embarrassing to be sure, but it was a one-time snafu and the conference organizers accepted my profuse apologies, along with my notes and questions.

In any event, a bunch has happened since then to be sure. One thing being a new President and everything that comes with it, specifically as it relates to supply chain, freight transportation, and logistics. Last week, I took a look at the questions and notes and realized there was a lot of good stuff in there, especially from a copy perspective, which, in turn, gave me the idea to do something along the lines of a column.

On the session’s panel were C-level 3PL executives, with the session having a bit of a global logistics flavor.

First up was NAFTA. Now remember that this session was before the election so nobody was talking about a trade war or a 20 percent border tax to pay for President Trump’s wall either.

One unanimous theme related to NAFTA sounded by the panelists was that NAFTA was not going anywhere anytime soon. NAFTA in a revised form was mentioned, but understandably specifics were lacking, as it was more conceptual than anything else.

And a domestic 3PL executive explained in November that “were Trump to win” a Republican House and Senate would simply not “throw NAFTA out, adding “it will be a long, long time, if ever, before a wall is built, with limited prospects of freight trade between the U.S. and Mexico ever really slowing down. One thing that was clear at this time and still remains true now is that there remains a bit of panic that removing NAFTA is even a remote possibility, in tandem with what its removal would do to the cross-border economy.

And since then, NAFTA has remained a hot topic to be sure and a very fluid situation in regards to what happens next.

Another 3PL executive spoke of the challenges related to cabotage (defined as the right to operate sea, air, or other transport services within a particular territory) on the Canadian border, as well as the Mexican border.

He explained that it is a significant issues as it relates to large, engineered freight, as some concerns in Mexico, for example, lack the permitting capabilities and lack a firm grasp on regulations.

A separate topic centered around the question of if the “boom” in China was over. The feedback received from the 3PL executives was mixed, with China’s GDP down compared to the nation’s lofty standards, coupled with what a 3PL executive called significant changes in patterns related to industrial and heavy haul markets. The fate of TPP was not viewed as a concern at the time, as political and campaign trail rhetoric at the time suggested it was dead on arrival, which turned out to be the case.

To be sure, these things were pretty top level, and I am still kicking myself for my travel booking error. I hope to redeem myself in 2017 and will be sure to correctly book my return flight this time, too.  

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About the author
Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman
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