Ports & Terminals

Infrastructure investment urged as AAPA opens Tampa conference

Increased investment in U.S. transportation infrastructure is being urged as the American Association of Port Authorities’ 11th annual Planning for Shifting Trade Conference gets under way today [Jan. 30] in Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Walter Kemmsies, managing director, economist and chief strategist of real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s Ports, Airports and Global Infrastructure Group, opened the conference calling for infrastructure funding, lest inflation rear its ugly head.

“We have to be concerned,” said Kemmsies, who holds three degrees, including his doctorate, in economics.

Kemmsies, who is based in JLL’s Baltimore office, said inflation is “not that imminent,” but failure to put more money into roads and other infrastructure bodes to change that outlook.

Transportation infrastructure joins tax reform and trade agreement renegotiation as the three keys to continued economic growth, according to Kemmsies, who commented, “The three T’s of Trump are creating opportunity to tap into global middle class growth.

Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT
Economist Dr. Walter Kemmsies opens the American Association of Port Authorities’ Planning for Shifting Trade Conference in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

“Rumors of the death of globalization are premature,” he said, noting that, driven by Asia, the size of the global middle class is at its greatest ever.

“The entire world economy is back in sync,” Kemmsies said, with the public-sector financial crisis having stabilized, and inflation and growth risks balanced and central bankers not under pressure to increase interest rates. “We are now in the best global economic environment in 20 years.”

That said, with overall wages rising in very tight labor markets, with high capacity utilization of factories, with worsening congestion, with a truck driver shortage and truck freight costs spiking upward with implementation of the federal electronic logging mandate, and with a need to grow infrastructure and plant, property and equipment investment, some real barriers to continued growth exist, Kemmsies said.

As e-commerce keeps growing – anticipated to increase within three to four years to 25 percent from the current 9 percent of U.S. sales exclusive of cars and gasoline – and with congestion and the truck driver shortage worsening, Kemmsies said he believes inland transport hubs will keep growing in prominence as more freight shifts from roads to rail.

Joining the hemispherewide AAPA in presenting the conference is the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Transportation Research Board. Presented in cooperation with the U.S. Maritime Administration, the event is being hosted by Port Tampa Bay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Comprehensive coverage of the conference is slated to appear later this week at ajot.com and in print in the American Journal of Transportation.

Paul Scott Abbott
Paul Scott Abbott


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For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists.

Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.

A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.


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