AAPA leader calls for sanctions consideration

President Trump (pictured) has placed a number of tariffs on products since the start of this year, with the imposition of more levies proposed Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 President Trump (pictured) has placed a number of tariffs on products since the start of this year, with the imposition of more levies proposed Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has called on United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to “carefully consider” the negative effects of possible trade sanctions on port and other trade-related jobs across the US, including the consequences of probable retaliatory responses from trade allies.

In a letter from April 19, AAPA president and chief executive Kurt Nagle said that the organisation was “concerned” regarding the sanctions, which “could result in significant losses of good-paying US trade-related jobs, including those in the seaport industry”.

“While AAPA does not comment on specific trade sanctions, prior to implementing any trade remedies or sanctions, we urge you to carefully consider the negative impacts these actions would have on port and other trade-related American jobs nationwide, including the effects of likely retaliatory responses from our trading partners,” he wrote.

Port impacts

In the letter, Mr Nagle described maritime ports as “at the frontlines of the current uncertainties surrounding US trade policy”, explaining that port cargo activity constitutes more than a quarter of the US economy, creates almost $4.6tr in total annual economic activity and is responsible for $321bn each year in state, local and federal tax revenues.

He also said that the cargo moving through US ports supports over 23m American jobs and that for every $1bn of exports shipped through these facilities, 15,000 jobs are generated.

The AAPA chief executive additionally noted how creating and sustaining American employment opportunities is a top priority for US President Donald Trump, calling on Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “to take a comprehensive view of the millions of US jobs related to trade and ensure US seaport and other employment is not negatively impacted by trade actions”.

According to Mr Nagle, a 2016 survey by the AAPA showed that ports and their private sector partners planned on spending $155bn between 2016 and 2020 on improving port infrastructure, but “as businessmen … they are concerned about making these investments in an unstable trade environment.

“Eliminating that uncertainty is especially important as this Administration seeks to find partners to build America’s infrastructure,” the chief executive told Mr Lighthizer.

“You can help stabilise the market by focusing on expanding US exports and finding cooperative ways to address any current trade inequities.”

Concluding the letter, the leader said: “We believe it’s vital that the US economy and jobs can continue to benefit from jobs generated by trade, both exports and imports.”

President Trump has placed a number of tariffs on products since the start of this year, with the imposition of more levies proposed.

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