U.S. seaports, while considered important “economic engines” for their communities, are being called upon to play a much larger role in the global economy. Instead of serving as static facilities that support the maritime trade, seaports can and should take a proactive approach to foster international trade, especially as it relates to U.S. exports.
Recently, the federal government reached out to the American Association of Port Authorities to assist with the National Export Initiative, a program initiated by the Obama administration to double exports by the middle of the decade. This initiative is designed to support 2 million American jobs.
Ports are being targeted because of their expertise in foreign trade. The administration recognizes that those in the port industry have the knowledge of what it takes to do business overseas and the contacts to help local companies expand their business models to reach markets abroad. Our knowledge and contacts can help prospective exporters find markets, secure financing and discover risk mitigation for foreign sales.
Our nation’s seaports need to take the lead in this effort because it will have a direct, positive impact on our country’s economic stability by creating jobs. By supporting the National Export Initiative, ports are promoting regulatory best practices and efforts to reduce or remove key technical barriers to exports of U.S. products. Trade policies that enhance and facilitate, rather than hinder, international trade advance our nation’s position in the global marketplace and promote economic activity. The bi-partisan support for free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea was a step in the right direction.
A port-led effort in support of the National Export Initiative will generate a higher awareness among our federal, state and local leaders about the importance of supporting infrastructure improvements to our nation’s ocean highways.