The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports, was pleased that President Donald Trump, last night in his second State of the Union speech, asked Congress to address issues of concern to the U.S. seaport industry.

President Trump called for “a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” for securing America’s borders and international ports of entry, including those at seaports, and for negotiating new trade treaties with countries like China that would end unfair trade practices.

Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO, remarked: “We were pleased to hear one of the President’s priorities is to improve the nation’s decaying infrastructure. AAPA looks forward with great anticipation to an infrastructure package this year that focuses on America’s transportation investment needs, including land and waterside connections to ports. We’re also hopeful for legislation that includes AAPA’s long-term funding solution to end the decades-old dilemma of Harbor Maintenance Tax underspending and inequitable funds distribution.

“We were reassured by the President’s commitment to boost security at America’s international borders and ports of entry. This includes seaports, which critically need hundreds more Customs and Border Protection officers to inspect and clear international cargo and cruise passengers. This is consistent with the results found in our newly-published port security infrastructure report, The State of Freight IV. In addition, AAPA was encouraged by the President’s statement to address the issue of human trafficking, which is another concern of ports.

“Finally, the President mentioned the importance of protecting American jobs and boosting economic output in negotiating fair and equitable trade pacts with our international trading partners. Because seaports are on the frontlines of the current uncertainties surrounding U.S. trade policy, it’s important to recognize that international trade, both exports and imports, are good for our national economy, and actions that would inhibit international trade could have sizeable negative repercussions on American businesses and jobs.”