Thursday, March 17, 2016

Oregon Port Trade Recommendations Offered

By Mark Edward Nero

An Oregon trade cooperative has released a report with recommendations that it says can help Oregon businesses facing logistics challenges due to the loss of weekly Port of Portland Terminal 6 container service and changes in the maritime and transportation industries.

The goal, according to the International Trade and Logistics Initiative, is to help Oregon businesses move freight to markets and compete globally. Recommendations included in the International Trade and Logistics Report fall into the following four categories:
• Resolution of Terminal 6 labor-management issues and restoration of weekly container service.
• Operational enhancements and actions to improve the existing logistics system.
• Strategic investments in freight logistics to sustain services.
• Policy actions to enhance Oregon trade and improve the transport of goods.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown launched the International Trade and Logistics Initiative -- a partnership of the Port of Portland, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Business Oregon and the Oregon Department of Agriculture – in April 2015. Its mission: to identify trade-related, freight logistics solutions to help small- and medium-sized businesses across the state stay competitive.

More than 88 percent of Oregon exporters are small- and medium- sized businesses, according to state data, and many of these businesses are believed to be experiencing increased transportation costs, longer transit times, reduced reliability, and loss of markets and market share due to various factors, including the loss of weekly container service at Terminal 6, something that took place in April 2015 due in part, to labor strife and productivity issues.

“Terminal 6 captured 53 percent of Oregon containerized exports and imports in 2014,” Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt said. “The port recognizes the urgency of this issue and has been actively working with our partners and Oregon shippers to find interim freight solutions and restore service.”

Existing support to shippers currently underway includes the creation of a drop yard for the monthly Westwood container service at Terminal 6, the restart of an upriver barge-rail shuttle to connect with farmers in eastern Oregon, southeastern Washington and Idaho; and exploration of both a container reuse pilot and intermodal rail facility for mid-Willamette Valley shippers.

The International Trade and Logistics Initiative’s full report is available at