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Business groups tell Obama that the use of a mediator is imperative in longshore union talks.
The Chinese developer says goal is to open waterway by end of 2019.
Union disputes claims that West Coast container docks are too congested to unload ships at night.
Marine terminal officials agree that future contracts will require ongoing collaboration.
Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou told American Shipper container lines need to adapt to permanent overcapacity, and cited Maersk's network management as the primary driver of bumper profits in recent years.
Economist revised forecasts, predicting lower import growth and a second year of declines in exports.