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U.S. Ports: Investing in Engines of Economic Development and American Competitiveness

Posted By Darrell Smith, Wednesday, March 09, 2016 Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

U.S. ports and our marine transportation system – and the hardworking men and women behind these operations – are essential drivers of the American economy. Every day, our ports and waterways handle millions of tons of domestic and international cargo, including food and agricultural products, petrochemicals, and automobiles. In 2014 alone, $1.7 trillion worth of U.S. goods moved through our ports, representing 75% of imports and exports by weight.

But ports, like our highways and bridges, face challenges. As a country, we are investing too little, and as container ships grow larger and larger, more cargo must be unloaded into increasingly tight spaces. And ports face unique operational challenges as they move ever-expanding volumes of cargo between ships, trucks and rail lines. Today, not a single U.S. container port is in the top 15 container ports globally according to the Journal of Commerce. Expanding trade will continue to put pressure on the existing system, increasing congestion and threatening U.S. economic competiveness; looking forward, the demand to move goods and raw materials on the U.S. transportation system is predicted to increase by 45 percent by 2040.

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