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600451-00118-1 Report Abstract

Assessing the Potential for Gulf Coast NAFTA Maritime Trade Corridors

Bethany Stich, Kyle Griffith, Peter Webb, Brittany Waggener and James Amdal, December 2015

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted in 1994 with the expressed intent of reducing barriers to trade. Since that time, however, transborder congestion and delays between the United States (US) and Mexico threaten achievement of this goal. As a partial mitigation strategy, maritime shipping offers a modal alternative for NAFTA trade with the potential for not only strengthening the resiliency of the North American transportation system, but also alleviating congestion for traditional overland modes. To that end, Gulf Coast economies are preparing for increased shipping activity in both vessel size and commodity volumes upon completion of the Panama Canal expansion by 2016. This study assesses the potential for maritime shipping corridors in the Gulf of Mexico between the US, Mexico, and Cuba. We document current trade patterns and infrastructure, analyze potential opportunities for trade expansion, and analyze the policy barriers that need to be addressed to strengthen these maritime trade corridors. The prospect of reduced transborder congestion, increased system resilience, and expanded economic cooperation with Cuba has opened a policy window for more deliberate coordination between national and state governments to make the necessary infrastructure investments and policy changes to bolster maritime shipping capacity.

Keywords: Freight Flows, NAFTA, Cuba, Modal Shift, International Trade

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 4.2 MB)