The letters ask Congress and the Administration to take immediate action to provide the whole of the maritime transportation system with the resources necessary to combat the virus and ensure the safety of the industry’s sizable workforce.
“America’s maritime transportation system, including its ports and their direct workforce of more than 650,000 front-line personnel, have kept essential goods moving to medical professionals, first responders and vital manufacturing, distribution and retail businesses during the pandemic,” said AAPA President and CEO Christopher J. Connor. “Their dedication and perseverance has enabled commerce to continue flowing during a time of great risk, upheaval, stress and greatly increased costs, allowing millions of Americans to safely and comfortably work from home.”
Mr. Connor noted that while recent news reports show a resurgence of trade at some of the country’s largest container ports, “the truth is that most ports are still suffering financially, particularly those that handle non-containerized goods, like steel, grain and other bulk cargoes. Even most container ports have large business portfolios that include handling critical, but poorer performing cargoes that put a financial drag on their ability to pay the added costs of protecting their workers.”
For the first 10 months of 2020 compared to the same time frame last year, the cruise industry has come to a standstill while the value of waterborne commerce through America’s ports plummeted $200 billion, or nearly 14 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Add that to the extraordinary costs involved in fighting the virus and the fact that no dedicated funding has been provided in any COVID-19 legislation, AAPA is urging federal policymakers to provide $3.5 billion in relief to the U.S. maritime transportation sector.
“The relief we’re seeking is about ensuring ports and other maritime transportation businesses are able to keep pace with the accelerating costs of protecting their workers while keeping their workforce employed, and maintaining a state of readiness so they can significantly aid in the nation’s eventual economic recovery,” said Mr. Connor.
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 industry solution providers and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. Cargo activities at U.S. seaports support nearly 31 million American jobs and account for 26 percent of the U.S. economy, generating nearly $5.4 trillion in total economic activity and more than $378 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2018. To meet the growing demand for trade, AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable. For more information, visit www.aapa-ports.org. On Twitter: http://twitter.com/AAPA_Seaports