Background

The American Port Access Privileges Act (H.R. 8243, introduced June 29 by Rep. Garamendi, D-Calif.) would build on the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 by encouraging ocean carriers to ship U.S. exports to foreign markets.

According to information from Garamendi’s office, this bill would:

- reward ocean carriers that serve multiple ports in the U.S. or with significant cargo bookings of U.S. exports (i.e., those accounting for at least 51 percent of the vessel’s carrying capacity by weight or container volume) by moving those vessels to the front of the queue for unloading and loading;

- require export-carrying vessels seeking preferential berthing to report cargo bookings at least seven days in advance to port operators;

- authorize the Department of Transportation to collect data on berthing and cargo practices at U.S. ports to evaluate carriers’ practices for port calls and cargo bookings and the impact of preferential berthing; and

- codify current preferences for military, Jones Act, and other U.S.-flagged vessels in place at many major U.S. ports.

“Foreign exporters’ access to the American market and our consumers is a privilege, not a right,” said Rep. Garamendi. “Cargo ships looking to offload foreign-made products and profit off West Coast ports must provide opportunities for American exports in return.”

For more information on pursuing trade policy interests through the legislative process, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or via email.

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