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U.S. Seaports Join ITA in New Partnership to Increase Exports

Department of Commerce and American Association of Port Authorities sign memorandum of intent

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Just this week I traveled to the Port of Oakland to launch a new and exciting partnership.  The International Trade Administration (ITA) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) have entered into a new partnership to promote exports. During an event hosted by the Port of Oakland, Kurt Nagle, President of the AAPA and I signed a joint memorandum of intent to collaborate to help expand the reach of our export education efforts. This effort supports the National Export Initiative, President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. 

This was my first visit to the Port of Oakland and it is very memorable. The Port is the primary point of exit for exports from Northern California and its agricultural industries. Notably, it is the largest U.S. export port for wines handling over 52 percent of all U.S. wine exports (by value) in 2010.

On top of that, Oakland is the third-largest U.S. West Coast port for containers.  It is the United States’ 17th-largest export port overall and Oakland is one of the few U.S. seaports whose exports exceed their imports; nearly fifty-five percent of Oakland’s total cargo tonnage is exports. 

U.S. seaports are a critical conduit for most U.S. merchandise trade, with more than $455 billion in exports flowing through America’s sea ports in 2010.

Ocean transport carries more U.S. international merchandise than air cargo, trucks, railroads, and pipelines combined. This new partnership with America’s seaports will expand U.S. exports through increased education and outreach to U.S. businesses, creating a win/win situation for everyone.

The partnership will assist U.S. seaports leverage federal and local resources to help small- and medium-sized firms to achieve export sales. The AAPA and the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration will help interested ports develop and host industry-led workshops, seminars, and other events that provide exporters with a basic knowledge of export requirements.

More than 75 percent of U.S. merchandise trade by volume – and more than 36 percent by value – leaves the United States by water making U.S. seaports a critical component of our national and global economy..

For more information about the new seaports partnership, please visit

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Export facilitation

There is a lot of talk about the need for "trade facilitation." All too often, that means streamlining procedures for imports. What I don't see is a serious effort to reduce the cost of exporting through US ports -- significantly higher than many of our competitors. According to the World Bank, the per-container cost of exporting through the Port of New York/New Jersey consists of:

1. $400 in inland transport and handling, to get the container to the port;
2. $190 to prepare four official documents,* plus letter of credit
3. $60 in customs clearance and technical control;
4. $400 in port and container-terminal handling.

* Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, Commercial Invoice, and Customs Declaration

What can or should Commerce be doing to reduce those costs?

Multi-party discussions to reduce shipping times and costs

The Department of Commerce is working with the US Department of Transportation and other entities to develop a surface transportation bill that will include a holistic, comprehensive, multimodal U.S. strategy that will improve America’s national freight transportation infrastructure and thus ultimately reduce factory-to-port shipping times and shipping costs.

kostum basket

I agree, go USA..

Kostum basket

new regulation us govt authorization of Cert of origin from usa

A new Brasilian regulation is that all Certificates of Origin be authorized by the US govenment. I suggest a notary stamp of our state (florda) and was told this would not be sufficient.
where and how can this be done? our cargo is being held (with costs each day) until this is resolved.

Trade Barrier

You can report a trade barrier to the Trade Compliance Center (TCC) through a form at or email directly to tcc[at]trade[dot]gov for help.