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News Release
FOR RELEASE - September 25, 2019
Contact: Aaron Ellis, Public Affairs Director,
(703) 684-5700

American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033

Strategic Ports, Trade Policy Impacts Among Key Topics at AAPA 2019 Convention

Annual event features Western Hemisphere’s largest gathering of seaport and maritime transportation professionals

Among the key business sessions being featured at the 108th Annual Convention and Expo of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) … the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas … will be a pair of concurrent “breakout” sessions on Wednesday, Oct. 16. One focuses on the impacts of international trade policy and the another on the unique challenges of U.S. ports that are classified as militarily strategic.

The effects of trade agreements, tariffs and other trade policy aspects affect the entire supply chain, but perhaps none more so than the businesses that own the freight being shipped, known as beneficial cargo owners, or BCOs. Leading the discussion on “Effects of Trade Policy on Supply Chain Ecosystems” will be  Peter Friedmann, an attorney who, while U.S. Senate Maritime Counsel, drafted the Shipping Act regulating all international container shipping, and the Harbor Maintenance Tax, which funds navigation dredging. Since then he has represented the interests of port authorities as well as major beneficial cargo owners, including globally-known consumer brands in the footwear, apparel and sporting goods sectors, and established influential trade associations. He has also represented established influential trade associations, including the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), the principal voice of agricultural exporters in U.S. trade policy, of which he serves as executive director. Additionally, Mr. Friedmann was instrumental in creation of the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT), and he leads the Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders, among others.

Mr. Friedmann has written and spoken extensively on how the global supply chain, for containerized and bulk products, both export and import, is changing rapidly and dramatically. In his prepared remarks, he will explain the impact on ports and related interests. “These changes are partially but not exclusively due to accelerating trade disputes; actions taken … or not taken … by each port and local port interests is determining outcomes,” he said. “Among ports there will be winners and losers. The ports, labor and local governments must recognize that it is ultimately the shippers, not the ocean carriers, who control the supply chain. There are steps these ports are taking to assure their survival and growth.  What are those steps?”

Joining the stage with Mr. Friedmann will be Pete Mento, managing director of Crowe LLP, a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm with offices across the globe. Mr. Mento is also the global practice leader of the firm’s Customs and Duties Practice. “As the trade war drags on and becomes more global in scope, the effect it has on the global economy is creating a strain on transportation providers, port infrastructure and capacity,” said Mr. Mento, adding that he will discuss why and what to expect in the future.

At the same time in a nearby room, Bill Burket, director of the Virginia Port Authority’s Maritime Incident Response Team and Emergency Operations, will lead the session titled “Strategic Ports,” focusing on the infrastructure and operations challenges faced by strategic ports that support major force and materiel deployments in times of war and national emergency, and the coordination and planning necessary to support a Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) mission. Mr. Burket will discuss the importance of a Port Readiness Committee’s (PRC) responsibilities to enhance port readiness to ensure a successful SDDC mission. “As the PRC chairperson, it’s my goal to enhance The Port of Virginia readiness to support our nation’s war fighter,” he said.

Joining Mr. Burket’s “Strategic Ports” session will be Kevin M. Tokarski, associate administrator for Strategic Sealift with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), and Ernest Bezdek, trade development director for the Port of Beaumont, in Beaumont, Tex.

Mr. Tokarski is the chair of the National Port Readiness Network, a federal body of nine agencies that work together to ensure the U.S. military has the necessary capabilities to flow military equipment through the nation’s gateway strategic ports on a rapid timeline, delivering combat power whenever needed. He will discuss the critical roles for which America’s ports and industry have to meet military deployment requirements through designated Strategic Ports. Mr. Bezdek, on the other hand, will focus on the opportunities that America’s strategic ports have, and will comment on some of their infrastructure requirements, as well as some of the issues and opportunities inherent in serving as a strategic port.  Mr. Bezdek stated; “The Port of Beaumont has been a proud partner of the U.S. military for over 60 years. We’re proud to partner with U.S. Transportation Command and the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command to serve our nation during peacetime or wartime.  I look forward to sharing with our AAPA partners the many benefits that we gain by our service!” 

David White is the executive vice president of the Virginia Maritime Association, a Pre-Panamax level convention sponsor whose mission is to protect and encourage commerce through the ports of Virginia. “Since our establishment almost 100 years ago, the Virginia Maritime Association has worked to promote an ever-more efficient and business-friendly environment for the maritime industry and businesses conducting trade through Virginia’s ports” said Mr. White. “Today we represent an industry responsible for over 530,000 jobs across our great Commonwealth.  On behalf of our nearly 500 member companies representing every aspect of the maritime supply chain, we’re pleased to be a sponsor and we thank the AAPA for choosing to bring the conference to The Port of Virginia.”

Another Pre-Panamax level sponsor is the Hampton Roads Shipping Association (HRSA).  Roger Giesinger, HRSA’s president and chief negotiator, said: “Hampton Roads Shipping Association is gladly sponsoring this conference because of the collaborative relationships that we have at The Port of Virginia. Specifically, we point to our strong working relationship with the men and women of the ILA, which provide for one of the most productive, safest waterfront workforces in the U.S.”

The convention’s three-day business program features a robust agenda, with industry leaders and subject matter experts focusing on topics ranging from ports as economic development engines, to technology and big data, cargo transportation efficiency, trade policy, emergency response and cybersecurity.

More information about AAPA’s 108th Annual Convention and Expo, including its business program agenda, exhibitors and sponsors, is available at


Hosted by The Port of Virginia for the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)


AAPA’s 108th Annual Convention and Expo will feature a pair of “breakout” sessions that run concurrently on Oct. 16, one of which focuses on trade policy impacts, and the other that looks at the challenges of militarily strategic ports.


The convention runs Oct. 13-16, with open business sessions all day Oct. 15 and 16.


Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 East Main Street, Norfolk, VA 23510


Professional journalists representing bona-fide media outlets may request a code by emailing Aaron Ellis at or Joe Harris at to register online for complimentary access to the opening day harbor tour, the open business sessions (Oct. 15-16), the exhibition hall, and the closing reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 16. Journalists registering online should select the “Media” registration option after receiving their code.

About The Port of Virginia
The Port of Virginia, headquartered in Norfolk, is comprised of four marine terminals, two intermodal container transfer facilities and a barge terminal. It has on-dock, double-stack rail served by two Class One rail lines, Norfolk Southern and CSX. The Port of Virginia is located within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the nation’s population and regularly serves vessels in excess of 14,000 TEUs. The port is mid-way through a $695 million expansion project that will increase annual container capacity by 40 percent by 2020. It has 50’ deep channels and recently received approval to deepen its channels to 55’ and widen to 1,300’.

About AAPA
Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 130 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 200 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. According to 
IHS Markit’s World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2017 totaled 4.303 billion metric tons in volume and US$2.675 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.741 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$1.024 trillion, while North American ports handled 1.90 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.305 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable.  For more information, visit On Twitter:

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