Merger for NIT League, AAEI?

Merger for NIT League, AAEI?

WASHINGTON - Two of the oldest transportation and logistics trade associations in the U.S. are considering a merger.

The National Industrial Transportation League, founded in 1907, and the American Association of Exporters and Importers, founded in 1921, began discussions about four months ago.

The groups have shared membership and some financial information, but Peter Gatti, acting NIT League president, said that any discussion of merger is premature.

"It's been in the talking stage, but it has not progressed to that (merger) point," Gatti said. He said that both groups recognize that there are "synergies" that would benefit both memberships.

A combined NIT League and AAEI would have a membership of nearly 1,100 companies, and could represent shippers' interests in international transportation and trade issues.

AAEI calls itself the "national voice of the international trade community," and in recent years has taken positions in favor of customs modernization, trade facilitation, and a cargo-security regime that does not impede trade.

The NIT League formed to represent shippers' interests before government agencies, primarily the Interstate Commerce Commission. In recent years, the organization has taken a role in international transportation issues. During the last two years the league has opened its membership to carriers.

An agreement with the World Shipping Council was a major step in moving forward reform of decades-old international cargo-liability conventions. Earlier this year, the league adopted Vision 2020, a reorganization plan that would admit carriers and intermediaries to full membership.

Along with the benefits are impediments that may curtail the discussions. Directors on both sides have concerns about the leadership and management of the combined organization.

No one said there is a deadline for deciding whether or not the merger will go forward, but it's likely that the groups will decide by the end of the year.