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 Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc

Things Are Changing, But We Can Learn From History...
By Ronald M. Marotta, Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc.

Our deeply rooted global trade industry has been enabled by an ocean transportation industry that is almost as old as the earliest patterns of trade that we know existed. The very dynamic ocean transportation industry has seen vast changes over the centuries that have been engaged in global trade. In today's world, this network of tremendous-sized ocean going vessels, even with slow steaming, are speeding across the same trade lanes as their early ancestors did under sail.

In the early days, trade was very much limited to regional trade between those that had raw materials, everyday necessities, and food stuffs to those that had other products to barter and/or a need to buy necessities to survive.

During the period of 3000 to 1000 B.C., the easiest method of transporting goods was by shallow water, particularly in an era when towns and villages are linked only by footpaths rather than roads. The first known extensive trade routes that have been found were up and down the ancestral great rivers, which became the backbones of our early civilizations along the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus and Yellow Rivers.

We as modern day traders can trace the way we earn our livings today to a time when trade originated, all the way back to the start of communication between people in prehistoric times. Trading was the main facility of our prehistoric people, who bartered goods and services from each other before the innovation of modern day currency. Experts date the history of long distance commerce from 150,000 years ago.

As the riverboats became bigger and the desire to strike out to see what was beyond the great seas became insatiable, a Venetian businessman named Marco Polo traveled east to China during the 13th century, while two centuries earlier Norseman Erik the Red traveled West from Europe to the Americas. Each brought back to their homelands examples of the wealth and goods available in these distant lands. While Polo's adventure led to establishing a spice and silk trade with the Far East, the Viking efforts dwindled under the harshness of the North Atlantic and frigid winters.

Portugal expanded the spice trade to the East while Genoan Christopher Columbia blazed the trade routes to the West and started the European settlement of North America. By the beginning of the 1600's, trade between Europe, Asia and the Americas was advancing daily, bringing spices and raw materials to European factories while finished iron, steel, wood and textile goods were sailing out around the world.

With the advent of the steam engine in the 19th century, worldwide trade flourished as goods were shipped between continents in weeks instead of months. Worldwide trade rapidly increased when continental railroads in the Americas, Asia and Europe connected many coastal seaports for faster transportation of finished goods to waiting ocean vessels.

In the 21st century, worldwide trade is almost as prevalent and commonplace as the delivery of building products or grocery items to the next town. Air freight, containerized freight, large fast seagoing ships, and more powerful, efficient and safer locomotives combine with green over-the-road trucks, each sharing a role in moving goods around the world from the furthest corners to the most remote areas, some in less than a day by air, if necessary. With the advent of internet commerce and the speed of our global societies, next day delivery is required and expected by consumers. Everyone in our industry knows the words by which we live today, "Get it there faster, cheaper, and defect free." Worldwide trade has become the common focus point of governments, industries and the people of the world, and is a common and daily endeavor for millions who make their livelihoods as modern day traders.

Today, we can all look back with fondness on the sailing ships of old, but as we look forward to the future ocean going vessels that will use technology and our centuries of experience to build remarkable vessels that will be faster, larger, and, very importantly, more gentle on the environment. Those that build and operate vessels in this day and age will use a combination of engine technologies that will utilize natural gas and less dirty carbon based fuels as well as multiple sources of vessel power, such as solar technology that we already have seen introduced on vessels. We will also see wind power used on future vessels through the use of wind turbines and yes, even sails once again to help propel the modern container vessel across the same oceans the early sailing ships crossed centuries ago under sail.

As an industry, we have come a long way as we help to support global growth and modernization of life for billions of people, but clearly there must be a certain sense of satisfaction for our ancestors as they look down and see sails on ships once again.

Yusen History

Ronald M. Marotta
Ronald M. Marotta is the Vice President of Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc., International Division, an NYK Group Company, responsible for the Origin Cargo Management Group and is based in Secaucus, NJ. Ron also serves as the NYK Group's Commercial Council Office Leader and works with all NYK Group Companies in their efforts to collaborate and provide integrated global logistics services to our mutual customers. Ron began his career at NYK almost twenty years ago as the General Manager of OCS of America, Inc. and helped to transform one of the original consolidators in Asia, into a modern consolidator and cargo logistics company.
Over the past 19 years, Yusen Logistics has grown their international business over 1,100% and extended their service reach throughout the globe. Ron can be contacted at (201) 553-3803.