Trump Administration tariffs on things like steel and aluminum have been hard on ports across the country. But officials at the Port of New Orleans say diversification has kept it in strong financial shape.
Port Chief Executive Officer Brandy Christian told about 250 maritime and regional political leaders that tariff hikes on steel and aluminum have cut imports of those materials by 30 percent. But in the annual State of the Port address, Christian outlined strong growth in other areas is driving up business. Chemical plant expansions in River Parishes are booming, with plastic resin pellets being shipped around the world in giant containers - to make everything from milk jugs to sunglasses.
“A $100 billion is planned for investment to expand and build new Gulf Coast plants. And the economists predict that that production of plastic resins could produce an additional 400,000 TEUs, or 20-foot containers. That could power 25 percent growth in our container business in the next few years, she said.
Christian says the Port’s recent takeover of Public Belt Railway has expanded with container-by-rail service to Dallas for the first time since 2005. More business is expected with manufacturing and distribution centers in the revitalized Avondale Shipyard. And the cruise industry is expanding with new, larger ocean vessels, river cruising and the addition of Disney Cruises in 2020.