MarAd: Align maritime policy with economy
A new U.S. Maritime Administration study said current U.S. maritime policy is “only supportive of domestic maritime trades” and “not supportive of U.S. participation in international trades.”
“Policy makers must better align the multimodal transportation system, of which the maritime system is a key part, with the needs of the U.S. economy — an economy whose participants rely on a system of global supply chains and a highly complex coordination of people and equipment for the free flow of commerce to prosper,” says the report, An Evaluation of Maritime Policy in Meeting the Commercial and Security Needs of the United States prepared by IHS Global Insight.
There is a “disconnect between U.S. maritime policy and the current state of the global maritime transportation system and foreign trade,” the report said. “Maritime policy is constrained by legislative authority and remains narrowly focused on vessels.”
However, vessels and the ports they call are only one portion of the global transportation and supply network that delivers goods to U.S. consumers and businesses and serves the needs of the nation’s exporters. The maritime transportation system also consists of the multimodal networks that link to ports and inland waterways.”
It suggests: “Short-sea shipping and better multimodal coordination in port development can alleviate congestion and environmental degradation. Such action will be even more crucial as trade volumes are forecast to increase.”
Among reforms suggested in the 72-page report:
' “Port development should be assessed in a more systemic manner. Currently, the needs of individual ports are often assessed separately from the needs of having adequate port capacity that maximizes efficiency in maritime shipping on a national level.” It noted past studies have concluded it may be difficult to move growing cargo volumes over the existing U.S. domestic transportation infrastructure.
' Pursue reforms on the Harbor Maintenance Tax where revenues have far outstripped expenditures resulting in a growing balance in the fund. In the last fiscal year $1.58 billion was collected under the program and $799 million expended. The Harbor Maintenance Tax fund now has a balance of $4.7 billion.
' Make tax treatment of U.S.-flag vessels and crews operating in the foreign trades more consistent with the tax treatment of their foreign-flag competition.
' Move to a “no-fault” regime under standard workers compensation rights for seamen. “This would provide guaranteed compensation for injured workers, while removing uncertainty from employers and greatly reducing legal costs for both parties.”
' Reform vessel crewing regulations, which could enable cost savings from productivity gains from greater application of current vessel technology as well as shift the mix of vessels operated to those that are more cost effective.
' Promote U.S. shipbuilding and ship maintenance.
' Emphasize the environmental advantages of marine transportation, including fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
' Continue maritime training programs at Kings Point and the six state maritime academies because of the “forecast increase in maritime commerce.”
' Promote greater use of short-sea shipping and fund “nationally significant demonstration projects.”
' Consolidate federal policy and decision making in a single federal agency to “frame, and implement, public policies to improve the Marine Transportation System. ' Chris Dupin