Can DOT help to find solution for never ending port congestions
DOT meets with container lines, retailers on US port congestion
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday met separately with groups representing major container lines and retail importers, saying afterward the federal government is looking at possible solutions to mitigate the capacity crunch as cargo volumes are expected to stay elevated through year-end.
The DOT met with John Butler, president and CEO of the World Shipping Council (WSC), which represents top ocean carriers; and with the National Retail Federation (NRF) and its members from the Tractor Supply Company, The Michaels Companies, American Signature, and Macy’s.
In its meeting with WSC, DOT officials discussed US export delays, detention and demurrage practices, and ways to better share data tied to port performance. DOT said it and the WSC had agreed to “stay in touch and coordinate on supply chain disruptions.”
The unprecedented Asia imports clogging major gateways and inland hubs began in mid-2020, and container lines, ports, and industry analysts do not expect it to ease until early 2022 at the earliest. Frustration with export services and rising storage fees has spurred Congress to consider new legislation giving maritime regulators greater power.
The NRF last week publicly called for a meeting with the Biden Administration to address port congestion, warning that weeks-long delays threaten retail sales and broader economic growth. Following the meeting with NRF, DOT said it “had discussed solutions and how to work between government, industry, and labor to address supply constraints.”
There is a narrow path for federal action on port congestion beyond prioritizing infrastructure investments that would add exporter capacity. A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday said they had reached a deal on an infrastructure package, with sources telling CNN.com that it would total $1.2 trillion over eight years and include $559 billion in new spending.
It is not clear how much money would go toward port investment. In President Joe Biden’s $2.3 infrastructure proposal, less than 1 percent, or $17 billion, would have gone toward inland waterways, coastal ports, surface ports of entry, and ferries. US ports need $29 billion over the next five years, according to the American Association of Port Authorities