A Snapshot of What’s Next for the Shipping Industry During the Biden Presidency


What will the next four years bring for the shipping industry under the new Biden administration?

No one can say for sure, but everyone is guessing that it will not be as volatile and/or as unpredictable as the last four years under the Trump administration. The past four years have been pretty chaotic, and I am guessing it will take some time to settle down from it all. Trump is an isolationist when it comes to foreign policy and deals with trade bilaterally with other countries, whereas, Biden has gained tons of experience in foreign relations since the 1980s and knows how deal with trade multilaterally with other countries.

There was an unnecessary trade war with China.

The trade war had its ups and downs but, none the less, did nothing to fill the gap of our trade deficit with China. On the surface, our agreement with China last year to fill this gap seemed to be good for our country but it also seemed to have missed out on the big picture. No one lived up to their end of the bargain and Trump’s response seemed to always involve heavy tariffs.

There are other ways to get what you want from your trade partners; especially when there are more than just two players (U.S. and China) on a global playing field. An isolationistic agenda will not solve our problems and often times hurts us. Many American companies have a lot invested in trade with China, but it does them no good if they are barred or fiscally weary about trade with China in that kind of climate, leaving goods in limbo and/or contracts put on hold.

Environmental protections have been significantly rolled back in the past four years.

Although some of these protections can be inconvenient to growth in the immediate sense, they have long term implications that may prove detrimental to the health of our nation and to our planet, such as climate change, CO2 emissions, drinkable water, breathable air, etc. This topic might seem contrite to logistics, but air, land, and sea shipments are all affected by this.

Environmental protections usually involve energy, and shipping takes a lot of energy. So, it might be good in the short term; cheaper energy costs mean cheaper shipping costs. But what does it say about the long term, especially when most of our allies are at the forefront of cleaner energy? Cleaner energy will power our future.

The next four years seem to have a different projected tone compared to the past four years.

It is not to say that Biden will completely change the game or make much of a difference in the next four years, but it is a step in the right direction. International trade can change on the drop of hat when governments don’t see eye-to-eye, but long-lasting change takes time. It seems that Trump deregulated much of what Obama slowly enacted while in office and Biden has to spend his time reestablishing some of those regulations.

Regardless of political party, we need to focus on the big picture and adapt to an ever-evolving global economy. Our relationship with China is only one piece of the puzzle but the last administration seemed to be highly focused on our trade relations through bilateral lenses. If we have issues with China, then it follows that our trade allies more than likely have similar issues. We could work with them to get what we want instead of using tariffs that ultimately hurt us just the same. It seems as though we are projected to move down this path in the next four years. Hopefully, that is the case.