Port of LA Fights Proposed Box Fee
User tax could be slapped on container cargo
WASHINGTON, DC - 11/25/03 - Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has pitted himself against the Los Angeles Harbor Commission and the shipping lines that call at the Port of Los Angeles with a controversial proposal to slap a user tax on container cargo coming into the US, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.
The Local Port Discretionary User Fee Authority bill aims to recoup some of the $6 billion to $7 billion that port officials nationwide say they will need to strengthen security at port terminals and facilities.
But, the paper said, the American Association of Port Authorities, as well as several trade groups representing both ocean carriers and shippers, have come out strongly against Rohrabacher's proposal.
"Ultimately, American consumers pay these taxes in the form of higher prices," Robin Lanier, executive director of the Washington, DC-based Waterfront Coalition, which represents shippers and transportation providers, told the House Transportation subcommittee on infrastructure.
"The last thing we need are new taxes and fees that further drive up costs and which also affect workers in our export industries."
Commissioners for the Port of Long Beach have reportedly not taken a position on the proposed tariff.
Officials from both ports, which together handle about 43% of the nation's containerized exports and imports, have repeatedly urged Congress for more money to fund post-9-11 security needs like water sensors, radiation detectors and container screening equipment.
The Port of Los Angeles has requested about received about $4 million of the $68 million in security funding it's requested since the September 11 terror attacks. The Port of Long Beach has asked for about $65 million and received about $18 million.
Rohrabacher has proposed that instead of coming to Congress for the money, ports should foot the bill themselves by charging importers a fee on containers.
"Competition is good, even for ports," he said, dismissing concerns from port officials who said the measure would drive business to Mexico or Canada.?
Port leaders, including those in Los Angeles, are said to support another proposed bill by Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA) that would use a portion of US Customs fees to pay for port security.
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