Proposed ocean shipping deregulation “will negatively affect the maritime industry in Georgia” by creating “a very hostile environment for carriers to do business,” and by providing a threat to the economic viability of  the port of Savannah, Federal Maritime Commissioner Joseph Scroggins told GlobalFax Sept. 21.

Referring to proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2149), Mr. Scroggins said that if passed the bill “will force the carriers who are not completely driven out of business to merge and consolidate.”

“Once this happens, you will see a consolidation of ports and, in turn, rapid decrease of traffic through Savannah,” he added.  “Indeed, many industry experts say that there will be only a handful of ports left after the dust clears on this bill.  I mean no disrespect when I say that I don’t believe Savannah will be one of the survivors.”

Mr. Scroggins will be in Atlanta Wednesday, Sept. 27 at a meeting sponsored by the Atlanta Women in International Trade (AWIT) to be held at the Sheraton Colony Square in midtown at 5 p.m.

  Also scheduled to speak at the program entitled “Congressional Cuts:  How They Will Impact International Trade” are Alex Palacios, deputy assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development and Diane Burke, director for domestic operations, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Mr. Scroggins said that he would defend the Federal Maritime Commission as an independent agency, which is to be taken over under the bill by the Department of Transportation (DOT).  Already, the Commission is cutting back staff in anticipation of an upcoming legislative battle.

Proponents of the bill consider deregulation of the business overdue, and favor lowering shipping rates that have been kept artificially high by maritime conferences.  

For more information about the  AWIT program, call (404) 621-2519.