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January 2 2023

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14 Journal of Commerce | J anuar y 2, 2023 EXECUTIVE COMMENTARY ANNUAL REVIEW & OUTLOOK 2023 Shippers Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) Peter Friedmann Executive Director While declin- ing import volumes are reducing port congestion, reduced sail - ings are challenging US agriculture exporters' ability to be dependable suppliers to global markets. The difficulties encoun - tered in delivering import containers to inland rail ramps are creating shortages of ocean containers for agriculture exports from inland source points. We are encouraged that the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is demonstrating it can and will apply the authority it has had to self- initiate and enforce the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA- 22) to end detention and demurrage abuse. Should additional authority be necessary, the AgTC stands ready to return to Capitol Hill to seek it. If ocean carriers should have learned one thing from OSRA-22, it's that Congress will not abide injury to US constituent importers and exporters. Despite vigorous carrier lobbying against OSRA-22, it passed overwhelmingly and rapidly. OSRA 2.0 will not be necessary if ocean carriers undertake, on their own, long- overdue initiatives to increase their own efficiency and reduce costs to their shipper customers. Just two examples of opportunities for carriers to help their ag exporters succeed as dependable suppliers (and thus dependable customers of the carri - ers): Review and revise chassis "box rules" that create artificial container shortages and unsustainable cost at marine and inland terminals, and invest some of their 2020–22 finan - cial windfalls in container tracking and other technologies to provide accurate, real-time information to avoid earliest return date (ERD) uncertainty. Rather than wait for Congress and the FMC to compel ocean carri - ers to drive supply chain efficiency, carriers should seize this opportu- nity to do so, in collaboration with their shipper customers. The AgTC is currently working with several car - riers to accomplish improvements that are benefiting both those carri- ers and the agriculture shippers. American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI) Eugene Laney President and CEO Almost a decade ago, President Obama used the vista of his State of the Union address to set forth an ambitious agenda to reshape the current status quo in the way goods moved across the border and to make "One US Government" (One USG) at the border. The stated goal was to help US businesses compete in a global economy. Central to this agenda was the International Trade Data System (ITDS). ITDS promised to allow businesses to electronically transmit, through a "single window," the data required by the US Government to import and export cargo. While ITDS operated methodically, Customs' Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) was delivering automated functionality. With the benefits being so great to business, the trade sought an executive order to bring the One USG at the border principles to fruition by establishing deadlines and key expecta - tions on collaboration and escalation. The Obama administration stood up the Border Interagency Executive Committee (BIEC), which was tasked with bringing together the partici- pating government agencies (PGAs) through ITDS and collaborating with the private sector to identify ways and means to improve trade facilitation at the border. With input from the private sector, specifically under the organized Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC), the BIEC was tasked in determining what data is needed to measure trade risks and levels of compliance. In concept, this public–private partnership sparked the fire in the trade community and within the PGAs to pursue strategic collaboration and cooperation toward One USG at the border. Fast forward to today, trade facilitation seems to matter less. The BIEC no longer includes the trade community in its deliberations. Col - laboration and cooperation have been replaced by veiled policy priorities and no publicly published desired outcomes. The trade community is still swamped by a spaghetti bowl of redundant and duplicative data that is needed to receive a "may proceed" at the border. Couple this challenge with the plethora of new trade remedies, tariffs, and social compliance measures that have emerged over the last decade, and we have not moved any further from 2014's status quo. For example, importing wet pet food containing tuna and chicken requires three PGAs with various hard copy forms; 54 PGA data ele - ments; 21 redundant data elements; and 16 inconsistent definitions of the same data. The trade community can cite numerous examples of these challenges at the border that cover every industry. This disar- ranged approach hardens the commercial border and makes the US less competitive as well as creating additional costs for companies large and small. Action is needed immediately. PGAs and the trade community need to revive the collaboration and cooperation that led to the advancement of the Coordinated Border Management initiative and One US Government at the border. The mission set out in 2014 is not complete. We need to pursue codifying the BIEC with trade engagement and ensure that PGAs have a true gov - ernance structure that reshapes the status quo at the border and leads to One USG. Trade matters in our nation's chase toward sustained eco- nomic growth and security. The growth and security that we all pursue will continue to be elusive without One USG. "Trade matters in our nation's chase toward sustained economic growth and security. " ◀ "If ocean carriers should have learned one thing from OSRA-22, it's that Congress will not abide injury to US constituent importers and exporters." Peter Friedmann

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