The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has approved the Ports Performance Act, intended to provide earlier warning of disruptions to various sectors of US economy following the recent nine month labor dispute at 29 West Coast container ports.

This particular port slowdown has been cited as a cause of the anemic 0.2 percent annual growth rate of the US economy in the first quarter of 2015.

”This bill creates a right for the public to know, and an opportunity for government officials to act, if future labor strife or any other development threatens efficient operation of maritime commerce,” said bill sponsor and committee chairman Sen. John Thune.

”The damage inflicted on our economy because of port labor strife needed a response to help prevent a reoccurrence. Today, the committee resisted arguments against transparency and acted on that need.”

The Ports Performance Act requires the director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to establish a port performance statistics program and report annually to Congress on the performance and capacity of key US ports.

The US port authorities that are subject to federal regulation or that receive federal assistance will report annually to BTS.

The Act also requires the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce, to report to Congress on a port’s performance before and after the expiration of maritime labor agreements to help indicate whether labor discussions have impacted operations, the estimated economic impact of such disputes and roughly how long it will take for shipments to return to normal.

A separate amendment which would have removed provisions related to monthly reporting requirements in proximity to maritime labor agreements, was defeated by a vote of 11-13.

The Ports Performance Act may next be considered as part of the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization bill.

Source: World Maritime News