Look for the growth of intraregional trade to drive changes in the transportation marketplace as carriers shift services to meet shippers' increased need to move products within geographical regions, says H. Donald Ratliff, a professor and executive director at the Georgia Tech Supply Chain and Logistics Institute. Ratliff made his remarks during his keynote presentation on the third day of the MODEX 2012 tradeshow in Atlanta.
The professor said that intraregional trade continues to outpace inter-regional trade throughout the globe—except for within South America. For example, exports between North American countries are growing faster than exports from North America to other parts of the world. Likewise, exports between nations in Asia and Europe exceed exports sent from those areas to other regions.
Ratliff said that the current logistics infrastructure within regions plays a critical role in promoting intraregional trade. Europe and North America have well-developed road networks for goods movement across borders, while Asia has extensive ports to facilitate water movements in that area of the world. He remarked that the lack of infrastructure, particularly large seaports, is a key factor holding back growth in intraregional trade in South America.
Ratliff also said that U.S. exports are hampered by the fact that the public sector—which handles much of the country's infrastructure investment—does not adequately understand the needs of the supply chain. He noted that the United States does not have a government agency that looks at what the country needs to do in terms of supply chain and logistics to boost exports. The U.S. government could also help increase exports by providing more help to smaller and medium-sized businesses, which lack the expertise to navigate foreign trade regulations, said Ratliff.