The Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness approved March 8 a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross making the following recommendations to improve the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains, increase U.S. exports, and facilitate job growth.

Trade. The ACSCC encouraged the Trump administration to (a) continue to be actively engaged in promoting safe, efficient, and fair trade throughout the world; (b) complete the International Trade Data System and subsequently a North American single window with full interoperability of  the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican single windows/systems; (c) maintain and strengthen the Border Interagency Executive Council, which helps ensure a coordinated approach to trade by all U.S. government agencies involved in imports and exports; (d) advance the harmonization of regulations and policies related to the movement of cargo across state and international boundaries; and (e) accelerate pilot programs increasing the use of technology to improve the efficiency and security of freight movements along major freight corridors and networks and to eliminate the unnecessary of duplication of trade data filing requirements.  

NAFTA. The committee praised NAFTA, noting that more than one in seven U.S. jobs is now related to trade with Canada and Mexico and that supply chain integration among the three NAFTA partners has helped improve the performance of North American industries and lower costs. The committee pledged “fresh ideas and real time solutions” on ways to improve NAFTA in the following areas: regulatory reform and alignment, preclearance of goods and cargo, cross-border trucking, trusted traveler and trader programs, border infrastructure security, and the visa list of professions.

Infrastructure. Noting that adequate infrastructure is needed to efficiently move goods to domestic and export markets, the ACSCC recommended that the administration (a) develop a funding mechanism for infrastructure projects of national significance that prioritizes megaprojects at major freight hubs, (b) use competitive grants to incentivize and attract non-federal sources of funding for freight infrastructure development, (c) increase the gas and diesel tax while developing a plan to replace fuel taxes with a road user tax, (d) commit to 100 percent utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for its intended purpose, (e) help state and regional authorities develop performance-based infrastructure projects using private capital, and (f) set up one-stop permitting and information services to help mid-size and larger foreign companies that may wish to relocate to the U.S. market.

Employment. To help address workforce development challenges and match worker skills with those most needed in the supply chain industry, the committee said the DOC should (a) work with the departments of Labor, Transportation, and Defense to convene a supply chain workforce summit in 2017 and (b) develop an action plan coordinated across departments to address workforce shortages in supply chain industries.

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