US ports seek US$1.5bn for COVID-19 recovery

containers US port authorities are asking for US$1.5bn in aid. Photo: Markus Distelrath/ Pixabay

US port authorities are seeking US$1.5bn to manage the “extremely negative impacts” on the seaport industry brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As US policymakers begin negotiations on the next coronavirus aid package,  port authorities have sent letters to US House, Senate and Administration leaders asking for financial help to manage the operational challenges that COVID-19 has presented and  cover business-critical expenses that ports have incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, America’s seaports are experiencing significant financial challenges as commercial cargo has plummeted and passenger travel has nearly ceased,” said American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) president and CEO Christopher J. Connor. “At the same time, their expenses for things such as personal protection equipment for their workers, sanitation protocols often requiring extensive worker overtime, safety and disinfection supplies, and even security, have greatly reduced ports’ ability to invest in necessary infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, and make their debt and bond obligation payments.”

Mr Connor noted that, as a result of the pandemic, furloughs and layoffs have begun in the maritime industry and across the supply chain. Relief grant funds, he said, “will help American ports to manage the impact this pandemic is having on their ability to function efficiently and for maintaining a state of readiness.”

The letters state that ports have been neglected in previous coronavirus aid legislation.

Based on a 2018 port economic impacts study, the COVID-19 pandemic could result in a direct loss of 130,000 jobs at US seaports.

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