G-20 News

Biden administration to spend billions on aging US ports

Aerial view of a COSCO container ship unloading cargo at the Port of Los Angeles on October 26, 2021 in San Pedro, California.

Qian Weizhong | China Visual Group | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Tuesday presented several initiatives to address immediate supply chain challenges and other disruptions affecting global trade.

Several senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share details of the proposed plans, said the administration will begin working within the next 60 days with the US Army Corps of Engineers on $ 4 billion worth of construction work in coastal ports. , inland waterways as well as other facilities eligible to the body.

The plan will also identify and prioritize $ 3.4 billion in upgrades to outdated inspection facilities that will make international trade more efficient across the northern and southern borders, a senior administration official said.

“This is a long overdue infrastructure improvement and it has clearly been a bottleneck in the past,” the person added.

Officials said the administration plans to standardize data sharing requirements for shipping companies, terminal operators, railways, truckers, warehouses and cargo owners.

“There is not a lot of data sharing between the private sector and participants in the goods movement chain,” the official said, adding that the lack of data exchange leads to delays and inefficiencies when goods move from one part of the supply chain to another. .

The US Digital Service is working with the Federal Maritime Commission and the Department of Transportation’s Joint Program Office to create a data framework that will help move goods more efficiently, senior administration official Biden said.

“This is one of the most important but least visible parts of this program,” the person added.

The global supply chain – already exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic – continues to suffer the brunt of consumer demand, labor shortages and overseas manufacturing delays, resulting in a increased transport costs and inflation.

President Joe Biden will visit the Port of Baltimore on Wednesday to discuss how the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by lawmakers on Friday will improve ports and strengthen supply chains.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in August but sat inactive in the House for months, will fund colossal improvements to U.S. roads, bridges, airports, seaports and rail systems .

The bill, the largest federal investment in U.S. history, includes $ 17 billion in infrastructure improvements at coastal and inland ports, waterways and points of entry along the border American.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan on May 18, 2021.

Nicolas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

The measure, which Biden has yet to enact, includes an additional $ 110 billion to repair roads, bridges and other major transportation projects across the United States.

When asked about the timing of these investments, a senior administration official said work was “already underway” on some projects while other programs would take between 45 and 90 days.

Officials have not indicated when Biden will sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The bill’s passage follows Biden’s participation in the annual “Group of 20”, or G-20, forum, which refers to the 20 major economies that account for over 80% of world GDP and 75% of world trade .

While at the G-20, Biden called a summit alongside leaders of 14 other countries and the European Union calling for their unwavering engagement on supply chain issues.

“Supply chains are something most of our citizens never think twice about until something goes wrong. And during this pandemic, we have seen delays and backlogs of goods from automobiles. to electronics, from shoes to furniture, ”Biden said during his G-20 debut since becoming president.

“Ending the pandemic is the ultimate key to unlocking the disruption we all face. But we must act now, with our private sector partners, to reduce the backlogs we face,” he said. .

Now that the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in the system, he said, “we cannot go back to business as usual.”

Last month, the Biden administration unveiled a plan to conduct 24/7 operations at California’s ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest port complex.

Soon after, California’s twin ports, which account for 40% of sea freight entering the United States, announced new fines for carriers in an effort to lift the growing cargo standoff.

Starting November 1, unloaded containers moved by trucks will have nine days before fines start to pile up. Containers scheduled for rail transport will have three days. In accordance with these deadlines, carriers will be charged $ 100 for each container on hold per day.