Saturday, January 28, 2017

Less Trade - less Baltimore

The While cities can become bulwarks in resisting certain federal policies, they are in many ways directly dependent on what happens in Washington. A case in point is not so much the widely discussed threat of funding being cut off from "sanctuary cities" and Baltimore's dance around that term, but trade.
Port of Baltimore: Number #1 in the US. (Source: Automotive Logistics.
The chart says "2" because it counted North America and #1 in 2013
was Veracruz, Mexico)

Baltimore's port has always been at the heart of Baltimore's history and, to some extent, its economy. Baltimore was a designated port of entry for countless immigrants, some of which stayed in Baltimore and made the city grow and prosper. The Port of Baltimore is the nation's #1 port for car imports and exports, in other words: Trade.
Shippers imported 399,618 cars last year, up from 331,746 in 2014, the Maryland Port Administration announced Wednesday. Overall, 753,265 vehicles were moved through the port, the highest volume among U.S. ports for the fifth consecutive year.(SUN 3/9/16)
BMW's rolling ashore in Baltimore, it other largest Car exporter in Us
Should foreign importers have to pay high import tariffs making their vehicles prohibitively expenseive to sell in the US, Baltimore's port would be directly hit.

An analysis of the overall shipping numbers of auto vehicles shows that we are only #1 because of higher exports. Some may say, "the more we can export US cars, the better", so less imports won't affect us. That may be what the numbers suggest for a world without trade wars. But once importing countries are hit by US protective policies, one can be sure that those countries will fight back with the end result of less trade overall. In such a scenario the Port of Baltimore may well join the ranks of many ports around the nation with plenty empty space and hulking ruins attesting to better times in the past.
Fiats rolling off the boat in Baltimore

This just goes to show that nothing is ever simple and that is before one even discusses how automobiles are manufactured, which parts come from where or what a future of electric and automated cars may mean for the economy or the Port of Baltimore.

In the world of foreign policy, technology and trade, one better thinks three, four or five moves ahead before making the first strike.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA