Seaports Magazine - Fall 2015 - (Page 47)

» PORTS + POLITICS Improving and Expanding Our Nation's Seaports By Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) A merica is blessed with nearly 100,000 miles of coastline and more than 12,000 miles of navigable inland waterways, representing an important economic asset. The West Coast ports alone move over 12 percent of our nation's annual gross domestic product (GDP), while deep-water seaports to the south and east harbor a diverse intermodal transportation network. Unfortunately, the months-long West Coast port disruptions between 2014 and early 2015 harmed our economy. The recent slowdown cost nearly one percent of the nation's GDP in the first quarter of this year. Had this continued for even 20 days, our economy would have lost approximately $2.5 billion per day according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers. Across Nebraska, I have heard from many stakeholders, including agriculture producers, consumers, transportation and food processing companies, and manufacturers - all have expressed their grave concerns regarding the slowdowns. Earlier this year, an Omaha-based company that relies on imported components from Asia notified my office that delays harmed the company's daily operations - to the point of halting production. More than ever before, in today's justin-time logistics network, time is money. Deeply-complicated logistics networks cannot be altered at a moment's notice. Moving to a different mode of transportation or diverting shipping containers carries a massive cost for manufactures that is ultimately passed down to consumers. As a result of these delays, many of Nebraska's manufacturers are seeing costs rise exponentially. Approximately 95 percent of the world's population, and over 80 percent of its buying power, lies outside of the United States. In more countries, we are witnessing a growing middle class with a mounting appetite. And what do they want to eat? High-quality food products from the United States. This has created a tremendous opportunity for American producers to capture new markets and reach more consumers worldwide. But when disruptions occur at our ports and these products are left to spoil on the docks, our competitors fill the void by providing the world with the fresh products we cannot deliver. The loss of valuable markets impacts the bottom dollar for companies and businesses - and these losses are being passed down to our producers and their families, inhibiting their ability to feed the world. Earlier this year, industry stakeholders testified about these problems at a Surface Transportation Subcommittee hearing I chaired. They pointed to inadequate information leaving businesses with few options, greater uncertainty, and less time to keep their goods moving. This information is the key to ensuring our ports remain both competitive and able to continue facilitating global trade flows. Congress must work to ensure American businesses have the ability to produce and deliver goods that Nebraskans and people all over the world rely on each and every day. To aid in this effort, I joined Senator John Thune of South Dakota in June to introduce legislation that would establish consistent port data collection. Although members of Congress understand ports have some concerns, this bill would offer the American people, businesses, and policymakers greater clarity about disruptions at our nation's ports. By incentivizing technology, establishing a robust multi-modal freight program, and working to facilitate exports and imports, we can retain our place as global leaders. Approximately 95 percent of the world's population, and over 80 percent of its buying power, lies outside of the United States. In more countries, we are witnessing a growing middle class with a mounting appetite With the pending expansion of the Panama Canal, expanded shipping alliances, and a greater demand for exports and imports, America's ports must modernize to keep up with the expanding needs of the global economy. This is especially true for our mid-size and smaller ports. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that many mid-size ports, such as the Port of Portland, are seeing the volumes of 20-foot containers drop dramatically. The best way to improve economic growth and safety in our nation's transportation system is through better cooperation between port users, workers, managers, and government at every level. I am confident that together, we can enable America's seaports and inland waterways to thrive and maintain their place as world leaders. ● U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) is a member of the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. She serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. FALL 2015 * WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM 47 http://WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Fall 2015

AAPA Headquarters
From the President's Desk
Big Data, Big Possibilities
Greenlight on Green Metrics
An Eye on Data
Trusting Third-Party Data
Data in Latin America
Washington Zeroes in on Port Performance
Improving and Expanding Our Nation's Seaports
Navigating the Waves of Transportation Data
Big, Bad Big Data
Data Strategies to Avoid Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind
Leveraging Regional Freight Data to Improve Port Connectivity and Boost Trade

Seaports Magazine - Fall 2015