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January 2 2023

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70 Journal of Commerce | J anuar y 2, 2023 EXECUTIVE COMMENTARY ANNUAL REVIEW & OUTLOOK 2023 Government ◀ ◀ "The nation deserves a rightsizing of attention to its supply chain." Chris Connor American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Chris Connor President and CEO This time last year, as US ports were moving more cargo than ever, the sea - port industry led the call for a strengthened and better-funded US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to increase trust and reliabil - ity in the system. Congress funds the FMC annu- ally at $29 million, but the industry it oversees generates a total (direct and indirect) economic value of more than $5.5 trillion. The nation deserves a right-sizing of attention to its supply chain. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 was a solid step forward. Congress recognized during the debate, however, that port and ter - minal dwell fees are instrumental for keeping "baggage from piling on the carousel." AAPA strongly encourages the FMC to respect the principle of "fluidity incentives" as the agency modernizes the pro- verbial rules of the road for ocean transport business. Seaports are working with the government on other ideas to improve the supply chain — for example, by incentivizing the timely pickup and return of cargo and assets, such as containers and chassis. Similarly, allowing for extended hours of operations and improved data exchange between transport modes and users will assist in strengthening maritime operations. Across the federal government, in the face of the old adage that "freight doesn't vote," there is a palpable and exciting improvement in how policymakers support the freight mobility system, including through the creation of the nascent Office of Multimodal Freight Infra - structure and Policy within the US Department of Transportation — and through hundreds of millions of dollars in port infrastructure modernizations. A APA fully sup- ports this added capacity and focus within the US Department of Transportation and looks forward to its implementation. Cranford Consulting LLC Anil Vitarana Principal Although the supply chain chaos that lasted for two years has eased due to reduced US imports, the quest to avoid a repetition should not stop. In my ARO 2022 comments, I advocated for greater resources to upgrade the US Maritime Admin - istration's (MAR AD) Marine Highway Program through advanc- ing infrastructure developments at secondary ports on both coasts and improving connectivity to the intermodal network. Despite the Department of Transportation's (DOT) aspirations, the progress has been disappointing. President Joe Biden's off- dock container terminal plan has received mixed reviews from the industry. With funding available through MAR AD's Port Infrastruc - ture Development Program, the plan is expected to see some, albeit limited, traction. The tepid reaction underscores the industry's reluc- tance to seek long-term solutions. Collapsible containers have been periodically touted as a solu- tion to inadequate storage capacity and expediting the return and costs of moving empty containers. Dock labor unions and truck and rail unions have not warmed up to the idea, citing operational and safety constraints. This has not deterred New Jersey–based start up Staxxon from pursuing its project to build foldable, accordion-style containers. With over half a trillion dollars Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT) Paula Connelly Board President As an industry, the trade community will continue to encounter customs issues related to forced labor and knowledge of a company's supply chains. Forced labor is no longer just a US issue but a global issue, with many countries initiating or considering import bans of products made with forced labor, particularly from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). In fact, the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently issued the ILO Protocol on Forced Labor, which aims to strengthen global efforts to pre - vent trafficking and slavery-like practices. Since the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has targeted hundreds of shipments for potential UFLPA violations. In fact, CBP publishes the statistics in its Monthly Operational Update. Getting caught up in a deten - tion can result in lengthy and very costly delays for importers. In some instances, importers may choose to re-export the shipment if they feel that they cannot substantiate that the goods were not made with forced labor. However, companies may find themselves in a difficult situation, with customers looking for their goods and suppliers who refuse to accept returned goods. Customs authorities expect that companies will have knowledge of their supply chains, particularly for products that are made in the XUAR region or that could fall within another forced labor case, whether in the US or in another country. Companies should evaluate their imported products for potential forced labor risk factors and work closely with tier-one suppliers to assist with a deeper dive into the lower-tier suppli - ers. Keep in mind that if you are shipping products internationally, particularly from China, you may run into forced labor issues in countries outside of the US as well. "Companies should evaluate their imported products for potential forced labor risk factors." ◀ "Ocean carriers have an obligation to invest in the development of operational efficiencies that could minimize supply chain bottlenecks." Anil Vitarana

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