Maritime exchanges serve two primary functions at U.S. ports. First, they are advocates for port businesses with federal and state government agencies on legislative, regulatory and general navigational issues. Second, they function as maritime intelligence hubs within port regions, capturing and disseminating vessel movement information, electronic cargo manifests and crew information for commercial, regulatory and security purposes.
We are optimistic about 2006. Most economic indicators point to continued growth of the U.S. economy and of major trading partners. This economic expansion likely will continue to spur sustained growth in the private and public maritime sectors. Within this climate, our members will face dual pressures of a dynamic marketplace, and new policies and regulations promulgated by government at all levels.
In the face of these competing pressures, maritime trade associations must enhance their collective efforts to communicate their message of advocacy. The onslaught of new port-security regulations is a case in point. As trade grows, so will the demands and complexities associated with security initiatives. One example deals with new requirements for industry to provide electronically increased volumes of maritime trade information earlier in the vessel schedule process. Customs' electronic crew and passenger reporting regulations implemented in 2005, and the Coast Guard electronic Notice of Arrival and Departure expansion announced in October are two recent regulatory changes that have dramatically impacted shippers and carriers.
One lesson learned from the implementation of these two regulations is that maritime trade associations more than ever need to drive home with Washington policy-makers how community-based information systems can enhance security and facilitate commercial operations.