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FMC chairman warns of maritime overload

WASHINGTON, DC: March 08, 2016. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) chairman Mario Cordero says his agency needs more money and personnel to avoid becoming an impediment to the growth of U.S. international trade.

Speaking before the 
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and the Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure and Safety, Cordero said he wasn't sure how long the FMC's 125 employees could maintain the current level of oversight with record breaking container volumes increasing the congestion at U.S. maritime gateways.

MIAMIIn a warning to the Committees Cordero said: "If unaddressed, congestion at U.S. ports presents a serious potential impediment to continued economic growth as well as the competitiveness of the nation."

Noting 2015 was an "impressive year for shipping", he said 20 million TEUs entered the U.S. and an additional 11.5 million were exported – an overall increase of two percent over 2014 and the second consecutive year that imports have exceeded the 2007 record of 18.6 million TEUs.

Asia remains America's largest trading region and is responsible for 62 percent of all U.S. container trade volumes with China its largest single trading partner.

With International trade accounting for 32 percent of America's GDP, a figure forecast to reach 60 percent by 2030, Cordero explained the demands on the FMC "are significant in terms of accepting, processing, analyzing, and acting upon just the routine filings that provide the foundation for a transparent and competitive international ocean shipping network".

Citing the last three months of 2015, he said the FMC had received 8,491 new service contract filings and 177,382 contract amendments, while for the full 12 months it had processed 51,109 new filings and 653,315 amendments.

"Simply put, the demands on the agency's resources are continually increasing, but the resources available to the FMC to execute its mission never seem to keep pace with the work that must be done," Cordero explained.

"At some point," he warned, "we may not be able to provide service at the rate our constituents require to be able to do their business; and if that day comes, we will not be facilitating trade, we will instead risk becoming an impediment to the free flow of cargo."

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