High And Dry
America on the day after Dubai Ports.
If Congress really passes a bill banning foreign operation of US ports, as the Jones Act requires US ownership of ships plying intercoastal waters, all our international ports will be shut down. Not a single one is managed by US interests, and no US companies stand ready to jump into the breach.
There's Inchcape Shipping Services, for example, which arranges arrivals and departures at 200 ports around the world, including more than two dozen in the United States. As a British company it would have to go.
Oh, the Brits can stay? We're going to pass an "it's OK for white countries to run our ports" bill? Inchape still goes. It's owned by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, also heads Dubai Ports World, reports WaPo.
Does the Navy need some ammunition in Yokosuka or Naples? To bad. Maersk Lines, which handles supply shipping for the Navy, is Danish owned. Maybe the bill will allow ownership by companies from countries that have cartoonists that tick off Arabs.
Also noted (where the elipses are above) is APL. Its ships were always named after American presidents, because "APL" stands for "American President Lines." It is now owned by a Singapore company.
There is an important reason why terminals are usually managed by foreigners: The shipping companies themselves are largely foreign, and they have generally sought to control terminals so that they can be certain of having the most reliable, efficient facilities possible for loading and unloading their vessels quickly to reduce costly time in port. That arrangement has suited local port authorities; they want to ensure that their ports will draw enough traffic to generate revenue and employment.
"Why are there so many foreign terminal operators? There are no global American liner companies anymore -- that's really the crux of it," said Peter Shaerf, managing director of AMA Capital Partners LLC, a merchant bank that specializes in transportation.
That development goes back to the 1970s and 1980s, when U.S. shipping firms struggled to compete with foreign lines that employed low-wage crews and were subject to looser regulations concerning safety, crew training and other issues. In the 1990s, much of the once-mighty U.S. merchant marine fleet was bought by foreigners, as ... Maersk purchased Sea-Land from CSX Corp.
We have to admit that the arrangement offers high efficiency, which means lower costs to consumers. And that means that there should be money available to fix the real problem, which is security, not ownership.
Related Tags: Dubai, Ports, Security, Foreign ownership, Bush, Shipping