Region gears up for Americas trade boom.

Author:Zbar, Jeff
Position:LATIN TRADE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT
 
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South Florida has been called the "gateway to the Americas." Given the recent boom in logistics infrastructure investment, regional leaders might want to call it the "gateways" to the Americas.

From airports and seaports, to train facilities and intermodal centers, to hemispheric provider evolving with new markets, billions of dollars have been spent to bolster international trade and regional cargo traffic. The region in 2013 was the 7th-largest export market in the United States, with merchandise shipments totaling $41.8 billion, accounting for half of the state's total exports, according to Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development organization.

Newly built logistics infrastructure is poised to facilitate even more trade traffic. PortMiami last year opened its new $ I billion tunnel. Port Everglades is in the midst of a three-phase expansion to accommodate larger ships and more container traffic. Less than a mile away, the Fort Lauderdale--Hollywood International Airport debuted its $800 million south runway extension. Both counties have new intermodal centers for truck-to-rail convergence.

Such growth comes as the hemisphere's emerging middle class has more access to products from different parts of the world with a growing appetite for imported goods. It's also created a market for new providers. Logistics increasingly is about more than moving products. Logistic manufacturing services is bringing product assembly closer to the consumer

"We've married logistics and manufacturing for real convergence," said Rick Jordon, senior vice president and regional head of logistics with Panalpina, Americas Region.

Integrated solutions, whether from shipping companies or the ports that serve them, along with improved regulations, can create an environment for growth, said Francis Larkin, senior vice president and general manager of logistics and commercial services with Crowley Maritime Services.

"Demand for more sophisticated supply chain solutions in Central America and the Caribbean has never been stronger" he said,

By investing in infrastructure and improving customer service, logistics has taken center stage at the gateways of the Americas.

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