Shipping keeps its head above water

Michigan State Roundup

Published May 1, 2003  | May 2003 issue

The shipping industry may do more than just tread water this year. Some industry analysts hope that last year's increase is the beginning of a trend.

One sign is that U.S. Flag shipping, which serves the Great Lakes, reported a 34 percent increase for January. The rise is less than the five-year average, but up 7 percent from last year.

Coal and iron ore, the most-shipped products on the Great Lakes, are the largest determining factors in the industry's success. Both Tilden and Empire iron ore mines are expected to run at full capacity this year, said a spokesman for Cleveland Cliffs Inc., North America's largest supplier of iron ore pellets. These mines are expected to generate 14 million tons this year, an increase of 3 million tons over 2002.

CCI attributes the positive early projections to the steel import tariff implemented in March 2002 by the Bush administration. That might change, however, as the World Trade Organization recently ruled that the U.S. steel tariffs were illegal. If upheld on appeal, the ruling would allow European and other nations to impose trade sanctions of comparable value against the United States.

Rosie Cataldo