The 2018 JOC Gulf Shipping Conference will provide information and insights that cargo owners can use to plan and execute shipments of container, breakbulk, and project cargoes through US Gulf ports. At their core, JOC Events create value for beneficial cargo owners, including retailers, manufacturers, consumer product firms and energy agribusiness organizations, through intensive programming that addresses key operational, pricing, and strategic challenges shippers face when leveraging end-to-end container shipping services in support of their supply chains. Leveraging its editorial team of veteran journalists, the JOC Gulf Shipping Conference is built out of the industry-leading news and analysis appearing on and in The Journal of Commerce to deliver the latest data, information, and potential industry solutions to the supply chain chokepoints that freight interests wrestle with daily.


2018 is shaping up as a crucial year for Gulf ports. The long-awaited surge in synthetic resin exports is starting to materialize, the region’s container ports are receiving regular calls by post-Panamax vessels, and imports will take on new importance with the opening of a Wal-Mart import distribution center at Mobile. Meanwhile, ports along the Gulf are handling project cargoes for petrochemical plants and breakbulk shipments including steel, non-ferrous metals, and forest products. These developments present unique challenges and opportunities for shippers, carriers, and service providers.

For containers, annual US resin exports from the Gulf region are forecast to rise by 300,000 to 500,000 TEUs within the next three years. How will manufacturers export this volume? Are existing carrier services adequate to meet demand? Will carriers add or expand services? Will resin exporters find enough empty containers? How much of the Gulf’s resins volume will shippers route to other coasts? How will Gulf ports compete on costs? What’s the role of rail and truck? What are manufacturers’ plans? What about transit times, terminal efficiency, labor productivity, and rates? Will import volumes be sufficient to balance export growth? What challenges do import shippers face? How are railroads coordinating their intermodal services with port expansion projects, and what does this mean for ocean carrier services? When will the Panama Canal expansion’s impact be felt more fully? What’s the outlook for transshipment and direct north-south trade?

The Gulf is also the top US region for breakbulk and project shipments. It’s the center of US petrochemical production and has unparalleled barge and rail connections to the US interior. What’s the demand outlook for non-containerized cargo? Will protectionism dampen trade flows? Are ports investing enough to handle larger, heavier shipments? How will ports balance breakbulk and containerized cargo needs? Which ports will see the fastest growth?

The 2018 JOC Gulf Shipping Conference will examine these and other topics, with a view to the full scope of the region, From the west coast of Florida to the east coast of Texas.


  • The petrochemical resins outlook. Will carriers and equipment be in place to handle growth?

  • The economic outlook for the Gulf and its ports.

  • Imports through the Gulf: How will Wal-Mart’s new import distribution center change the equation?

  • Hurricanes: how are Gulf ports and transportation providers and users preparing for weather disruptions?

  • Trucking: Heavy-weight corridors, ELDs, and driver and chassis availability.

  • Non-containerized commodities: Will steel imports fall victim to protectionism? What’s the outlook for forest products and other commodities?

  • US-Mexico trade: Ocean or land — best options for shippers


Monday, April 16th, 2018

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018