American Port Access Privileges Act Seeks to ‘Restore Fairness’ at U.S. Ports

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Legislative, Trade

Representatives from California have introduced the American Port Access Privileges Act to help support agricultural exports leaving California ports. Congressmen John Garamendi, Jim Costa, and Mike Thompson introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives as a follow up to the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022. The bill seeks to ensure fair trade for American businesses and keep important foreign markets accessible for agricultural producers and other exporters.

American Port Access

“Foreign exporters’ access to the American market and our consumers is a privilege, not a right. Cargo ships looking to offload foreign-made products and profit off West Coast ports must provide opportunities for American exports in return,” Congressman Garamendi said in a press release. “Our legislation would put American exports at the front of the line at our ports to support American businesses and workers. Congress must restore fairness at our ports for American exporters to help reduce the United States’ longstanding trade imbalance with countries like China.”

Endorsed by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, National Milk Producers Federation, and U.S. Dairy Export Council, the legislation would provide priority berthing to incentivize carrying more American exports. Ships looking to offload cargo would receive special treatment if they can show that more than half of their capacity will be reached through loading U.S. products. Priority berthing would also be given to vessels that stop at more than one U.S. port before departing for international ports. The legislation is to further efforts to prevent ocean carriers from refusing to take cargo loads of agricultural goods before departing back to foreign ports.

“The American Port Access Privileges Act will ensure that foreign exporters that profit off of American ports are also providing opportunities for American exporters, helping to support our businesses and workers,” said Congressman Thompson. “Restoring fairness at our nation’s ports will help the United States return as a leader in global trade and ensure competitiveness in American manufacturing.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West