Washington, D.C.—After days of sharing positive reviews of the trade talks with China, President Donald Trump said tariffs on Chinese goods will not be lifted immediately even if the ongoing talks produce a deal.
“No, we’re not talking about removing them,” Trump told reporters. “We’re talking about leaving them and for a substantial period time because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal.” He said China has had problems living by certain deals.
Trump then pivoted back to his optimistic view of the current trade talks.
“But we’re getting along with China very well,” he said. “President Xi is a friend of mine. The deal is coming along nicely.”
Trump also confirmed top U.S. representatives are scheduled to go to China and continue working on the deal. Earlier, the president said news on that effort could be expected in the next three to four weeks.
James Keynotes At AAPA
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James used his keynote speech to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) spring convention to provide an update on his mission to “build our infrastructure and don’t take forever to do it.”
“For too long, we’ve allowed outdated policies and procedures to stunt the success of the Corps of Engineers,” James said, adding his goal is to make sure those with money and skin in the game have more influence over outcomes.
He ticked off a list of specific initiatives, such as pushing decisions from headquarters to the district offices, replacing time- and money-killing risk-adverse decision making with a risk-informed process, and streamlining the permitting process.
James said one proposal on regulatory reform would eliminate the need for non-federal sponsors to complete environmental review and analyses for authorized civil works projects.
Conceding that some of his efforts have run up against legal and political realities, James said he remained committed to his mission.
“I am not afraid to go back home. I don’t intend to take another job after this one, so I am going to do what I can do,” he said before ending with a quip. “And hopefully not go to jail.”
James stayed away from the administration’s recently released budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which some declared dead on arrival in Congress.
Instead, he repeated his negative take on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
“To this day, I don’t understand those trust funds,” James said.
“I don’t understand why they were developed the way they are, why they are funded the way they are and why the people that put money into those trust funds don’t reach out and try to figure out a better way to do it.”
James said that no matter how many times he looks over the trust funds, his response remains the same: “Wow!”
“They work for you, but they don’t work for you efficiently, and we don’t get the return as a nation on that money the way we should, and I mean building ports and harbors, locks and dams and dredging, everything that goes with waterways and supporting the waterways of this country.”
James clearly was preaching to the choir.
AAPA has called for a comprehensive proposal to fix the problems with the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
Border Emergency Declaration
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her chamber will vote March 26 on overriding President Donald Trump’s veto of a measure blocking his emergency declaration as well as more spending on a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
That vote is expected to fall short of the two-thirds vote necessary to override Trump’s first veto of his presidency.
A bigger question remains on exactly where the administration will get the additional funding for the controversial border wall and which projects, especially those connected to the military, will be hit by that action.
Port Access Routes
The U.S. Coast Guard is launching a new study of routes used by ships to access ports on the Atlantic Coast and is encouraging public comments on that effort.
Building on the Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study (ACPARS) completed in April 2017, the Coast Guard explained, the new study will focus on routes between port approaches and international entry and departure transit areas.
The initiative is expected to be completed by May 2021.
Coast Guard district commanders are to prioritize and schedule a Port Access Route Study (PARS) for specific port approaches and international transit areas associated with proposed ACPARS fairways and post those milestones by May 1.
“These routes are critical links of a robust and effective Marine Transportation System (MTS) and integral to efficient shipping safety fairways recommended in the Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study,” the Coast Guard stated.
Public comments are considered essential to the study, the Coast Guard said, adding that includes comments on whether a public meeting should be held on the topic. If the Coast Guard determines a public meeting would aid the study, the agency said it will announce a time and place in the Federal Register.
For additional information, contact George Detweiler at 202-372-1566.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler included marine litter in his remarks on global water security at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“One of EPA’s key programs in this space is our Trash-Free Waters program,” Wheeler said in his prepared remarks.
“We work directly with states, municipalities and businesses to reduce litter, prevent trash from entering waterways and capture trash that is already in our waters.”
He singled out the use of trash or litter traps and the first-ever solar-powered trash water wheel installed in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, credited with collecting 278 tons of trash between May 2014 and June 2015.
New AAPA Chairman
The American Association of Port Authorities elected Gary Nelson, executive director of Port of Grays Harbor in Washington state, as its next chairman of the board.
“With his valuable experience as a port director involved with diversified cargo, his international trade background, and his longstanding active engagement with AAPA and our member ports throughout the hemisphere, Gary Nelson is an outstanding choice for leading our association during the upcoming activity year,” AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said. “Gary’s outstanding leadership and business skills, together with his easy-going demeanor, will be of enormous value as our member ports work together to address common challenges and legislative priorities.”
Nelson is slated to be installed for his one-year term in October at AAPA’s convention in Norfolk, Va., and will succeed William Friedman, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.
A native of Anacortes, Wash., Nelson joined the Port of Grays Harbor in April 2000.