New Legislation May Lead to Cargo Opportunities for U.S. Vessels

Published Nov 20, 2012 3:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Earlier in the month, Congress and President Obama reauthorized legislation surrounding the Export-Import Bank, ultimately extending its lending authority for another two years and increasing its credit limits.

As the President has implemented a plan to double American exports, this legislation aims to give thousands of American businesses the necessary means to sell more of their services and products overseas. More importantly, the Department of Transportation feels that the Ex-Im Bank legislation will lead to more cargo opportunities for U.S.-flagged ships, as well as better jobs for our merchant mariners.

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been in favor of the Ex-Im Bank because the exports that it supports add to the cargo volume for the U.S.-flagged merchant fleet. For example, on June 1st, an American flagged ship left the Port of Milwaukee with cargo bound for international export for the first time since the 1980s.

The Maersk Illinois was loaded with two rope shovels manufactured by Wisconsin-based P& H Mining Equipment. It will carry the equipment through the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Atlantic Ocean to a Siberian coal mine, according to the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.

More than 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in annual economic activity are supported by the movement of goods within the Great Lakes Seaway System. Cargo can be transported through the Seaway on any country's vessels, but because funding for the export cargo was arranged by the Ex-Im Bank, an American-flagged ship is required. Over the last year, U.S. companies exported $2.15 trillion worth of goods, the most our country has ever exported in a 12-month period. Some 9.7 million people went to work because of these exports, an increase of 1.2 million export-related jobs since 2009.

The 78-year-old Bank plays a significant role in the above-mentioned success; its main goal has consistently been to offer assistance to global companies that buy American products, in an effort to help increase the sale of those goods. Throughout the last two years, the Bank has been instrumental in creating a considerable number of U.S.-Flag cargo opportunities. It has allowed for at least six new heavy-lift vessels.

The continuing success of the Ex-Im Bank is a triumph for Obama's National Export Initiative, and our US-Flag fleet.