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Facts About The Management Of American Ports

The last two weeks there has been uproar over who manages our ports. The uproar began when it became public that the British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., who manages terminal at 6 US ports, was being bought out by Dubai Ports World.

DPW is owned by Dubai which is one of the 7 Emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Since then, there have been many statements made that have no bearing in fact.

Any debate needs to be based on facts and not fear and political posturing. While I believe that no port operations should be managed by companies from outside the United States, I do not agree with using false information to promote that position.

Fact 1 – DPW is not buying 6 American ports. All ports in the United States are owned by the states they are located in.

In fact no part of the ports is owned by companies inside or outside the US. That said there are terminals, warehouses and other facilities that are leased to companies both inside and outside the US.

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DPW is buying P&O which runs shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Fact 2 – None of our ports are managed by companies inside or outside the US. Our ports are run by government bodies called Port Authorities.

Many local Port Authorities contract out the management of individual terminals inside the port. Many times these terminals are leased to the company that manages them.

Fact 3 – There are companies in America that can manage operations at our ports. I have seen several articles and many postings in blogs that say that our port operations are managed by foreign companies because there are no companies in America that do that kind of job.

The truth is that two of the 10 largest port management companies are located here in the US.

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Fact 4 – The U.S. Coast Guard, Customs, port police and the Department of Homeland Security for all terminal operators. The operators themselves are not responsible for security.

That being said there is a lot of information about how our ports are operated and possible vulnerabilities in the hands of companies outside our country.

Do facts 1, 2, and 4 mean that we should allow foreign companies to manage operations at our ports? I do not think so.

It is one thing for a private company to outsource jobs outside the US and another for our government to do so.

If you look at the approval numbers for the President and the Congress you see that 65% to 70% of the people are not happy with the quality of jobs they are doing.

We would all agree that it would be wrong to outsource these positions to people in other countries who might do the job cheaper.

Below are the top 4 reasons I think we should not allow out sourcing the operations of our ports to companies outside the US.

  1. Government:

We are all familiar with the concept of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Ports are part of our government. The management of operations of our ports should be done by our people and for our people.

2. Security:

Our ports are one of the most sensitive access points to our country. Even though we manage the security do we want people from foreign countries having access to every detail about how one of our ports is run, how to access the port, possible vulnerabilities of the port and access to how the ports security operates.

3. Taxes:

Our ports are run by taxes and fees charged to the citizens of the US is it right to take tax money and give it to companies outside the United States.

Even though some of those taxes are paid by the shipping company that uses the port, those taxes are figured into the price of the goods and passed on to the consumer.

4. Economics:

Many of our Port Authorities do not want to manage the day to day operations of our ports therefore they outsource the management of the ports to private companies.

Should our government be out sourcing quality management jobs to companies outside the US just because they pay their people less?

Rusty Ford

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