Thompson, Garamendi, Costa Introduce American Port Access Privileges Act to Support California Exporters

Press Release

Posted: July 1, 2022

Benicia – Today, Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-05), John Garamendi (CA-03), and Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced the “American Port Access Privileges Act” (H.R.8243) to put U.S. exporters at the front of the line at our ports and support the American economy. This legislation follows up on the Congressmen’s bipartisan, bicameral Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (Public Law 117-146), which was signed into law by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on June 16, 2022.

“Getting American goods to the global market is key as we recover from COVID-19 and improve our supply chains,” said Thompson. “The American Port Access Privileges Act will ensure that foreign exporters that profit off of American ports are also providing opportunities for American exporters, helping to support our businesses and workers. Restoring fairness at our nation’s ports will help the United States return as a leader in global trade and ensure competitiveness in American manufacturing.”

The “American Port Access Privileges Act” (H.R.8243) would ensure fair trade for U.S. businesses and keep hard-won foreign markets accessible to California’s agricultural exporters by:

  • Codifying the current preferences for military, Jones Act, and other US-flagged vessels in place at many major American ports.
  • Establishing a secondary berthing preference for ocean-going commercial vessels servicing multiple ports in the United States or with significant cargo bookings of American exports. This new preferential berthing will reward ocean carriers that serve both importers and American exporters by moving those vessels to the front of the queue for unloading and loading. It will similarly incentivize ocean carriers to make second-leg voyages to ports like the Port of Oakland, which is critical for California’s agricultural exporters.
  • Ensuring that the new preferential berthing for export carrying-vessels would never interfere with U.S. Coast Guard orders for commercial vessels, port safety, or collective bargaining agreements for port workers.
  • Requiring that export-carrying vessels seeking preferential berthing report cargo bookings at least 7 days in advance to port operators.
  • Authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics to collect data on berthing and cargo practices at U.S. ports. This will evaluate ocean carriers’ practices for port calls and cargo bookings, as well as the impact of preferential berthing afforded under the bill.

The “American Port Access Privileges Act” (H.R.8243) is endorsed by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), National Milk Producers Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation.

The full text of the “American Port Access Privileges Act” is available here.