A study on port competitiveness has just been published and it reveals a troubling gap in federal funding between ports on the west coast of the United States and Canada – so much so that ports in the western part of the United States – United are at a significant disadvantage in handling current volumes and increasing their capacity to remain competitive. with the ports of British Columbia.
According to the study report, from 2016 to 2020, ports in British Columbia received US $ 372 million in direct funding for port projects, compared to US $ 45 million for ports in Washington State and US $ 179 million. dollars for California ports. Canadian federal contributions to BC port projects have far exceeded US federal contributions because Canada views its west coast ports as a national priority. As US West Coast ports aim to maximize trade opportunities, accessing federal and non-federal funds for port-related investments is a fundamental challenge that West Coast port leaders are striving for. to overcome.
Since about 2007, Port executives of Seattle and Tacoma have been discussing BC ports as competitive threats, worried about the possibility of losing cargo due to the expansion of BC port capacity. and targeted policies and commercial activity supported by the Canadian government to attract the United States to destination goods passing through Canadian ports.
“It basically means they’re targeting our market share. Over time, our concerns about this have grown. “ said Ryan McFarland, director of government relations for the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which led NWSThe effort of A on the study. “WWe are losing freight and it is not good for us or the country.
One of the main concerns is our federal government’s infrastructure spending, or lack thereof. In the United States, the road and rail infrastructure that supports the efficient movement of goods through the supply chain receives significantly less federal dollars than investments in British Columbia. Canadian governments at the provincial, federal, local and port levels have made concerted efforts to develop their highly competitive infrastructure and facilities. McFarland said press releases and announcements were regularly issued about the funding of Canadian ports and rail corridors, the road network that supports freight activity and their ability to handle freight destined for the United States for the make more efficient.
Tacoma Harbor Commission Chairman Dick Marzano
The study reports that from 2005 to 2020, federal contributions to port projects in British Columbia totaled US $ 1.332 billion, compared to $ 457 million for Washington projects to support critical infrastructure such as improving waterways. roads, railways, highways and bridges.
In Tacoma, a critical infrastructure project, SR-167, has been dragging on for years and will not be completed until 2028.
“SR 167 is a perfect example of the failure of something that started over 20 years ago with the assurance that it would be completed by then and we are still not there,” said said Tacoma Harbor Commission Chairman Dick Marzano. “For us to move freight more freely without the congestion and by helping our producers in eastern Washington move their cargo, it benefits everyone. ”
Beyond funding levels, the study identifies recommendations for increasing the competitiveness of US West Coast ports, including prioritizing investments to accommodate larger container ships and investing to improve environmental sustainability. port operations.
“The Northwest Seaport Alliance is making strategic infrastructure investments to increase the efficiency of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and stay competitive, but we cannot do it alone,” said Fred Felleman, NWSA Co-Chair and Chair of the Seattle Port Commissioner. “Investments in port infrastructure not only benefit our economy, but also reduce the impacts on our neighboring port communities and the environment.
McFarland and Marzano both said they all wanted Canada to succeed; they just want more cargo to arrive at ports on the west coast of the United States That the federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act has been enacted and the Build Back Better Act is under review in Congress gives them hope that some of these dollars will go to support West Coast ports.
“It’s a big step in the right direction,” McFarland said. “From the early stages of Law on investment in infrastructure and employment, ports have been part of the picture Recent announcements we’ve seen from the White House, their engagement in supply chain issues at the highest level, and that the infrastructure and jobs law includes a big a financial boost for the ports is good news. ”
Marzano said he was “very happy” with the way Congress is including ports in its new funding programs, but that it should not be seen as the end. “This is the start and where do we go from now?” We will speak with our congressional leadership and move forward, seeking our fair share for shippers to use our gateway. We are not asking for a bailout; we ask for help to compete and keep American jobs in America.
Long Beach Port Executive Director Mario Cordero said the important role seaports play in the country’s economy has never been more visible than it is today during the global pandemic.
“The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, known as the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, handle 40% of the country’s container imports. The west coast is the gateway to Asia and the country’s most important trading partners. A more equitable distribution of federal funding would make all of our operations faster and more efficient, with huge benefits throughout the supply chain. ”
Learn more and find the study report on NWSeaportAlliance.com.
Matt Nagle story: [email protected]