The Federal Maritime Commission Newsroom


Commissioner Dye's Statement to the Port Forum in New Orleans

January 7, 2015

International Supply Chain Efficiency and Effectiveness:
Challenges Facing Gulf Coast Ports
Port of New Orleans

Good morning. Thank all of you who are here today to participate in the Federal Maritime Commission’s Gulf Coast Forum on International Supply Chain Efficiency and Effectiveness. All of you have distinguished business backgrounds and your willingness to participate reflects the critical importance of supply chain effectiveness to American competitiveness.

And thanks to the Port of New Orleans for hosting this Forum, especially Executive Director and CEO Gary LaGrange, Director of External Affairs Matt Gresham, and Administration Assistant, Angelo Rivera.

My favorite business author is Jim Collins, who discusses the primary organizational importance of getting the "best people on the bus." Some of the FMC’s best people are with me today: Ed Lee, my counsel, Karen Gregory, Secretary of the FMC, Bob Blair, Office of Economics and Competition Analysis, Cathleen-Megan Moran, Office of the Secretary and Bruce Johnson, FMC Area Representative. I hope you’ll have a chance to meet them today.

Among Federal agencies, the Federal Maritime Commission has the greatest expertise and understanding of the maritime logistics system: we oversee international ocean shipping, port and terminal operations, and shipping intermediary operations. The challenges facing our ports and supply chain are not new. Neither are they limited to U.S. ports.

Several weeks ago I attended the Danish Maritime Forum in Copenhagen. The Forum brought together 200 international business and governmental officials to discuss the most pressing maritime issues of the day. I had the opportunity to lead a discussion group on transportation and infrastructure and how to prepare for the increase in world trade by 2030.

Our group discussion quickly focused on current supply chain congestion and disruptions and how to deal with them. I can tell you that we found no "easy answers." The divergent commercial interests, pressures and responsibilities in the international supply chain make solutions difficult to achieve. International supply chain effectiveness, reliability, and resilience depend upon continual adaptation to the dynamic requirements of global trade.

I do not support government proscriptions or requirements that would attempt to respond to current supply chain challenges facing our ports, truckers, and other supply chain actors. Most government agencies regulate in "silos," that focus on only one mode of transportation. In this case, there is a risk that unintended consequences of government actions may negatively affect the operation of the supply chain.

However, I do support the creation of a dedicated port and supply chain disruption planning framework similar to the current Coast Guard port contingency planning regime. This planning process should involve all international supply chain commercial stakeholders to address supply chain challenges on a sustained and continual basis.

Port and supply chain disruption deserves permanent, continual collaboration by all organizations interested in port operations. This matter is vitally important to transportation businesses and to the American economy and it requires our consistent attention.

But today, I am here to listen to your opinions and advice on what is going well in maritime logistics, and what can be improved. Our international shippers get the "last word" today. Our proceedings are being transcribed and will be made available to the public, with your consent. If there is anything you’d like to discuss with me privately, please feel free to give me a call.

My business cards are at the registration desk.

Thank you again.