Cabinet leaders: As crucial commerce cog, U.S. ports falling behind globally

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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker recently collaborated on a transportation.gov blog post detailing the importance of U.S. ports – and the jobs they generate.

“U.S. ports and our marine transportation system – and the hard-working men and women behind these operations – are essential drivers of the American economy,” the Cabinet leaders said.

The nation’s ports and waterways see millions of tons of cargo, both domestic and international, whether it's food, agricultural products, petrochemicals or automobiles. In 2014, $1.7 trillion in goods were moved through the U.S. ports, which translates to roughly 75 percent of the country’s imports and exports.

“But ports, like our highways and bridges, face challenges,” the officials wrote. “As a country, we are investing too little, and as container ships grow larger and larger, more cargo must be unloaded into increasingly tight spaces.”

The lawmakers called these challenges “unique.”

“They move ever-expanding volumes of cargo between ships, trucks and rail lines,” the trio said.

The Cabinet leaders also said U.S. ports are lagging behind other nations and called for a visionary, long-term approach to increase their capacity to meet future demand.

“Today, not a single U.S. container port is in the top 15 container ports globally, according to the Journal of Commerce," the officials said. "Expanding trade will continue to put pressure on the existing system, increasing congestion and threatening U.S. economic competitiveness. Looking forward, the demand to move goods and raw materials on the U.S. transportation system is predicted to increase by 45 percent by 2040.”

Organizations in this story

U.S. Department of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Ave SE Washington, DC 20590

U.S. Department of Commerce 1401 Constitution Ave NW Washington, DC 20230

U.S. Department of Labor 200 Constitution Ave NW Washington, DC 20210

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