Experts at trucking consultants FTR & Associates say industry conditions in the U.S. are on the mend but unpredictable international trade flows are creating a cloud of uncertainty in the trucking business.
“The U.S. economy remains on stable footing, but there are several risks that are creating uncertainty in the transportation sector. First on everyone’s mind is the potential for significant change with the new White House administration. The most anticipated issue for transport companies is trade, specifically among our NAFTA partners. There is potential for some very significant changes coming from tariffs and taxes. After working on creating a North American supply chain over the last 25 years, anything that significantly restricts trade flows between two of our biggest trading partners will create stress throughout the supply chain.,” says Jonathan Starks, chief operating officer at FTR.
Starks said the Trump Administration’s stance toward pending regulations is also casting some uncertainty around the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). There is a chance that the administration could curtail this regulation, but “the long-standing bi-partisan support for transportation safety regulations convinces us that this is an unlikely scenario,” said Starks.
Meantime, trucking conditions in the U.S. are nearing an inflection point toward the positive, with a steady increase in capacity utilization that will tighten prices as we move further into the new year.