Trucking Industry Experts Optimistic About 2021

By January 9, 2021 One Comment
trucking, transportation, experts, 2021

The trucking industry stands poised for a solid start in 2021, building on an unprecedented 2020 during which the U.S. economy relied heavily on truckers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sectors that are likely to see substantial gains in 2021 include final-mile delivery, homebuilding, and companies involved in and supporting the medical sector — including COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

“So much depends on the vaccine and how fast it is distributed to the general population,” American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “I think freight will remain decent in 2021. On the good side, the vaccine will help return to ‘normal,’ which means sectors that are currently hurting — like services and manufacturing — can bounce back, leading to more freight.”

Some of the industry’s largest trucking and logistics companies, including FedEx Corp., UPS Inc. and DHL Supply Chain, are involved in the global effort to distribute the vaccine. They’re supported by smaller carriers, including Massachusetts-based Boyle Transportation — a sub-contractor to UPS for vaccine deliveries — who also are joining the effort.

“There have been heroic efforts by the drug developers, the clinical trial participants and the regulators to get this far, but the execution will rely in large part on blue-collar transportation and logistics professionals,” company co-president Andrew Boyle told Transport Topics.

In a matter of just a few weeks early in 2020, the U.S. economy underwent a seismic shift, boosting industries that manufactured certain items — such as medical equipment — and taking a toll on those that were more service industry-related. The ripple effects were global and upset trade around the world.

It was also the year that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was ratified. The COVID-19 pandemic began to rage before its full impact on trade could be tested, but the countries kept their borders open to trucking traffic that was designated essential. Trade with Asia, Europe and other parts of the world has continued throughout the pandemic.

One lingering issue for the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will be the Trump administration’s trade war with China, and the tariffs Trump imposed on products coming in from that country. There are currently more than $300 billion in tariffs on products imported to the U.S. from China.

In an interview with The New York Times, Biden said he has no plans to immediately lift the tariffs on many imports from China or break Trump’s initial trade deal, noting he wants to maximize his leverage in future talks with the country’s leaders.

“I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs,” Biden said in Times writer Thomas Friedman’s Dec. 2 column. “I’m not going to prejudice my options.”

Biden also hasn’t said whether the U.S. would join a new China-backed trade pact — called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — that was signed in November by several Asian countries along with Australia and New Zealand. Asked at a news conference last year whether the U.S. would join the pact, Biden said he could not yet discuss U.S. trade policy because he had not taken office. “There’s only one president at a time,” he said.

Stateside, truck drivers started seeing a surge of pay increases in the second half of 2020 as carriers contended with capacity constraints amid high volume demand. These trends look likely to continue well into 2021.

Read the full article at Transport Topics

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