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Article first published on news of inboundlogistics.com, on Dec. 10th 2018


With the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), don’t expect major shifts in how North American supply chains are managed. Trade among the three countries should be robust, and the outcome should be a win-win-win for all parties involved as global corporations are expected to continue to invest in North America.

Commerce has evolved since NAFTA was created and the trade agreement will reflect the world we live in today, not 25 years ago. This new agreement will provide clarity around the future of North American trade and allow shippers to properly prepare for capital investments and supply chain changes. Some sectors and products—such as automotive, dairy, eggs, and poultry—will likely be impacted more than others.


Shipper demands, customer expectations, and third-party logistics (3PL) capabilities are increasing as the supply chain is pushed to the forefront, notes the 2018 Third-Party Logistics Study. This comes as shippers continue to refocus efforts on their core strengths and rely more on 3PL providers.

At the same time, 3PL growth in 2018 has been fueled by implementing technology that allows for enhanced fulfillment capabilities, efficient supply chains, and data that can help shippers improve operations in their own organizations as well as for clients. This is due in part to the fact that total logistics expenditures as a percentage of sales revenues have increased, reaching 11 percent in the 2018 study from 10 percent in the previous year.


With the first quarter of 2018 representing the largest shortage in history, the ongoing truckload capacity crunch is the result of what insiders call the “perfect storm.” Factors range from a booming economy that’s producing more goods that need transporting to fewer trucks available because of recession-triggered fleet reductions a decade ago.

In addition, with the average age of the commercial truck driver at 55, more are retiring at the same time that companies struggle to attract younger talent to a profession that has lost its appeal.

As a result, many shippers are changing how they do business to make sure they have the capacity they need. Emerging efforts to help include developing technology that helps match carriers and drivers with goods, especially on backhauls.


In 2018, President Trump used tariffs to deliver on a campaign promise to crack down on what he describes as years of unfair trade practices between the United States and China. The tariffs on Chinese imports included a 25-percent fee on nearly $50 billion in goods during the summer while September brought a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion in goods. The lower fall percentage, intended to reduce the impact on holiday demand, will increase to 25 percent on January 1, 2019. While November brought talk of a truce in the trade war, companies continue to feel the impact.

Chinese exporters aren’t the only ones affected; U.S. businesses are feeling it as well. More than half of American companies were affected by the tariffs with China, finds Asia Inspection’s mid-year survey. That number increases to nearly two-thirds of small and mid-sized businesses. As a result, many companies are continuing to shift some sourcing away from China.

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