International-Trade: US-China uncoupling charts new future for container shipping –

The breakneck pace at which China came out of the gate as a manufacturing powerhouse after its entry into the WTO has long since slowed. Photo credit:

When China joined the World Trade Organization on Dec. 11, 2001, container shipping was already a well-established system, ready to unleash the output of China’s emerging industrial machine onto world markets.

As Daniel Yergin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, energy expert, and IHS Markit vice chairman writes in his well-received new book “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations,” containerized shipping enabled China’s meteoric rise and that of globalization writ large, but with geopolitical tensions flaring, the industry will be confronting a future less hospitable to global trade and far-flung supply chains.

“How China’s extraordinary economic surge came about is the result of many things. But it would not have happened without a revolution that was born in the US port of Newark, New Jersey, a revolution that would change the map of global trade and prove transformative for the world economy — and for China,” Yergin writes.

That revolution, of course, was sparked by the April 25, 1956 departure of Malcom McLean’s Ideal X, a surplus World War II tanker bound for Texas with 58 truck trailers (minus the wheels), representing the first sailing of a container ship.

The radical concept, which drove down cargo handling costs and greatly accelerated the speed of