Seaports Magazine - Fall 2015 - (Page 47)
» PORTS + POLITICS
Improving and Expanding
Our Nation's Seaports
By Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)
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
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
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.
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
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
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Fall 2015
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