Representatives of public seaports in the United States this week urged Congress to pass legislation that enhances port security without punishing international businesses that operate marine terminals domestically and overseas. Responding to recent concerns about foreign investment and management of U.S. marine terminals, the members of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) affirmed the crucial role played by ports in America’s economy and warned against recent legislative proposals that could lead to severe economic and trade consequences.
“While the nation’s attention is focused on the important contributions of ports, AAPA is calling on Congress to strengthen the public-private partnership to thwart terrorism at America’s ports,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. “AAPA is fully committed to the security of our ports and will continue to work closely with Congress, the Department of Homeland Security and the Administration to protect our nation’s vital commercial gateways.”
Mr. Nagle noted there are several elements in protecting the nation’s ports and their adjacent communities. “We must have the resources to protect both cargo and port facilities,” he said.
Effective port security requires a complex system of technologies, screening, management and common sense, according to Susan Monteverde, AAPA’s government relations vice president. “Primary responsibility for port security rests with the federal government and requires the cooperation of all port-related organizations,” she said, “and AAPA supports a thorough, intelligence-based and transparent federal government review of foreign mergers, acquisitions and takeovers that impact U.S. port terminals to ensure there are no national security concerns.”
AAPA strongly opposes any blanket ban on foreign companies operating in U.S. ports. Whether domestic or foreign-owned, all marine terminal operators in the U.S. must comply with federal security regulations. “Given the international nature of our economy and the role of the ports, it makes no sense to target foreign-based firms that have a proven track record of compliance and cooperation,” said AAPA’s Mr. Nagle.
AAPA recommends a risk-based scanning and inspection policy for cargo containers, and believes as much as that as possible should take place overseas. In addition, AAPA is seeking at least $400 million a year in federal funds to invest in the physical security of U.S. port facilities, including improved lighting, checkpoints, perimeter protection, communications systems, and costs for operations, maintenance and security personnel costs.
AAPA is working with Congress to pass legislation that enhances cargo and supply chain security measures
, and provides much-needed funding for port facility enhancements. “We applaud the leadership of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and Representatives Dan Lungren (R-CA) and Jane Harmon (D-CA), who have introduced crucial legislation that AAPA supports,” said Ms. Monteverde.