International Commerce Leader


Ports, Infrastructure Make Louisiana a Global Trade Leader

The state is a powerful hub for global and domestic commerce

Ports, Infrastructure Make Louisiana a Global Trade Leader

The new Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish will be able to serve vessels of all sizes, dramatically increasing the state's import and export capacity. (Credit: LED)

Business success often relies on infrastructure and logistics, and Louisiana’s extensive port system, proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and central location in the southern U.S. establish it as a powerful hub for global and domestic commerce.  

Evolving and adapting is part of Louisiana’s logistics legacy, as evidenced by:

● Six Mississippi River deep draft ports, combining to handle the most domestic cargo in the nation.

● Six Class I railroads, spanning over 3,000 miles. New Orleans is the only place in America where six Class I railroads converge with a deepwater seaport.

● More than 1,000 miles of interstate, connecting all corners of the state with major regional markets such as Atlanta, Dallas and Houston.

● Nearly 50,000 miles of pipelines, integrated to crisscross every major highway, railroad and navigable waterway in the state.

● The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the nation’s first and only deepwater oil port.

The Port of New Orleans added to that legacy in December 2022 when it announced a public-private partnership to develop and operate the $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) container facility. That expansion will dramatically increase Louisiana’s import and export capacity: At full build-out, LIT is expected to handle 2 million TEUs annually, taking advantage of the deeper 50-foot Lower Mississippi River Ship Channel and strengthening Louisiana’s ability to attract distribution centers, logistics services and value-added services through Port NOLA’s multimodal connectivity.

These types of long-term infrastructure investments allow Louisiana’s ports to maintain their critical role in global supply chains, accounting for 25 percent of all U.S. waterborne commerce. They also help to explain why Louisiana is home to five of the top 15 U.S. ports by tonnage and the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in the country.

The expansion has been accompanied by innovation. In 2021, a forward-thinking partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the State of Louisiana and the nonprofit Water Institute of the Gulf developed the Lower Mississippi River SmartPort & Resilience Center, or SmartPort, to bring river navigation into the digital age.

Offering real-time data that can be shared by port administrators, shippers, tenants, cargo and ground transportation providers, SmartPort has been compared to the Waze motorist app, giving information that boosts efficiency by allowing users to assess critical operational factors such as tracking currents, river congestion, visibility and weather conditions. SmartPort’s unique data-sharing solution enables the full spectrum of stakeholders — from captains to cargo companies and port operators — to pinpoint potential delays in operations and, in the process, significantly improve their logistical capabilities.

The logistical advantages of doing business in Louisiana have placed it at the epicenter of world trade for centuries. Today, major public and private investments are ensuring that the state’s international commerce leadership role will be secure for generations to come.