Importance of Maritime Trade to the North America and the U.S. Economies
The U.S. maritime system comprise of more than three hundred sea and river ports including over three thousand seven hundred cargo and passenger terminal and over one thousand harbor channels all these spread along the coastline. Traffic is normally concentrated through the major cargo hubs by transportation firms because of the high cost of infrastructure involved. About 50 maritime ports in the U.S. account for approximately 90% of all cargo tonnage and 98% of container shipments. These ports are also used for the transportation of energy products. For instance, more than a quarter of crude oil that is imported to California is offloaded in one of the maritime ports (Frittelli, 2005).
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These ports are used for commercial ships which have been of great importance to both North America and the U.S. For instance, in 2003, more than six thousand commercial ships made about 10 U.S. port calls each (Frittelli, 2005). Most of these ships are owned by foreigners. A part of the growing maritime commerce in the U.S. is container ships. These ships transport loads of marine containers carrying a wide variety of goods. The Maritime system has both economic and social importance to the U.S. and North America. This is because ships form the primary mode of transport used for international trade.
They carry more than 80% of the volume of world trade. The U.S. is ranked number one in terms of maritime trading and it accounts for about 20% of the annual world overseas trade (Frittelli, 2005). Apart from the economic significance, the maritime system plays a vita role in the national security. More than 17 ports have been strategically designated to be used in the occurrence of a major military deployment. For instance, during the Desert Storm, over 90% of all the military equipment was shipped from U.S. strategic ports.
Importance of Mega Ports to International Trade
International trade involves the movement of finished goods and other commodities across borders. With economic globalization, there has been spatial growth of fright distribution on the landscape especially for terminals such as ports, railyards, and airports. From the perspective of value and tonnage, most nations prefer to use maritime as a mode of transportation as opposed to aviation. In many parts of the world, terminals face increasing pressures to hold large freight flows which are highly containerized. Containers have become a standard unit of transportation and they have been designed for simplicity and functionality. This requires the setting of mega logistics framework for ensuring a constant circulation of freight between producers and consumers (Rodrigue, 2009).
Despite of the extraordinary accumulation of infrastructure and space consumption for freight terminal activities, mega ports remain to be a key aspect of transportation in international trade. Automatic cargo transportation through mega ports is a capital exhaustive activity that does not necessitate much labor with the remarkable exclusion of trucking. Mega ports terminals, predominantly, involve diminutive labor and thus the spaces they consume, despite of being significant, are not much part of the shared experience (Rodrigue, 2009). They are used for the transportations of large volumes of good which could otherwise be expensive if other means, for instance airports or railyards, were used.
Mega ports have led to an increase in international trade since tones of finished good and other commodities can be transported at very minimal costs. Moreover, the terminal operations in the mega ports have been consolidated in the hands of a small number of worldwide terminal operators for security purposes and easy management.
Frittelli, J. F. (2005). Port and Maritime Security: Background and issues for Congress. Web.
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Rodrigue, P. (2009). Intermodal Terminals, Mega Ports, and Mega Logistics. Web.