Seaports: On The COVID-19 Recovery Front Lines

- On April 5, seaports of the Americas will celebrate Western Hemisphere Ports Day for the fifth consecutive year. Typically slated to commemorate the maritime industry’s role in job creation and economic prosperity, this year’s event will focus on the role of ports in the current COVID-19 global pandemic response and recovery.

The 2020 event recognizes the dedication, sacrifice and professionalism of the port industry workforce in their collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus while ensuring a steady flow of vital goods and services. In the U.S., more than 642, maritime-industry professionals work every day to ensure that cargo and cruise and ferry travelers move efficiently through the nation’s ports. By passenger and crew screenings, vessel quarantines and other measures, seaports are committed to ‘flattening the curve,’ both domestically and among our critical trading partners around the world.

Led by the American Association of Port Authorities– and united in our common goal of keeping the supply chain up and running throughout the hemisphere – we’re proud to join hundreds of ports in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, to highlight and celebrate the value of seaports.

Like ports worldwide, we have an ongoing commitment to remind our community and its leaders about the important role we play in Tampa and as a vital link to the global economy.

The importance of ports in our region is well documented.  According to IHS Markit’s GTA Forecasting, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere seaports in 2018 totaled nearly 4.2 billion metric tons in volume and US$3.7 trillion in value. Seaports in Central and South America handled 1.86 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$1.17 trillion, while North American seaports handled 2.34 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.53 trillion. 

However, the economic worth of all this cargo in terms of jobs and business activity is much greater than its market value. According to Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pa., in the U.S. alone, port activity generates 31 million American jobs and accounts for over one quarter of the nation’s economy.

Ports also play a critical role in providing goods that impact our everyday lives. Millions of tons of food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys, valued at more than US$10 billion, move through Western Hemisphere seaports every day.

As families, businesses and communities begin to recover from the pandemic we’re all facing, AAPA-member ports are ready to deliver the products you need and want, keep your shopping cart filled, and take whatever actions are needed to support a strong and stable economy.

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