Port of New Orleans CEO Eyes Infrastructure Improvements, Predicts Increase in Trade

This story was reported for WWNO -- New Orleans Public Radio

A container ship docks at the Port of New Orleans. (TEGAN WENDLAND/WWNO)

The outlook for the shipping industry under President Donald Trump, so far, has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some policies will be good for business, others might hamper it.

Since taking office, Trump has pulled out of an international trade agreement and considered tariffs on certain imports. Both of these moves could mean less stuff flows through US ports.

But his administration is also eager to spend lots of money on infrastructure, and that could be great for ports around the country.

Port of New Orleans CEO, Brandy Christian, spoke to a group of businesspeople and policymakers. She wants to upgrade the docks so they can stack more cargo.

Each year 500,000 shipping containers move through the port. “And with further investments in equipment,” she says, “you could go to a million and a half.”

Some ships aren’t carrying their full load, but if the river was deeper they could carry more cargo. So Christian wants the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the river. The Corps is currently analyzing the costs and benefits of dredging another five feet -- from a depth of 45 feet to 50 feet.

Last year the Panama Canal was widened to let bigger ships through. Christian predicts that will increase the port’s activity up to eight percent.