"We are committed to your industry - because what's good for air cargo is good for the U.S. economy," LaHood told the audience of senior executives from every area of the global airfreight supply chain. "A strong air cargo industry expands international trade and contributes to job creation and prosperity at home. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with you, our partners here at home and abroad."
Air cargo, a $60bn industry that delivers 35 percent of world trade by value - worth more than $5tr a year - has struggled to find recognition with lawmakers and politicians. The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), organizer of the forum, has been working to change this, building closer ties with U.S Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Association as well as key bodies such as the World Customs Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. Secretary LaHood reassured the industry, the U.S. government is now committed to helping it achieve its goals, because of its vital importance to both the economy and employment.
He said the DOT was doing its part to build a transportation system that supports President Obama's export goal. This includes the recent creation of a new Freight Policy Council, a high level and multimodal internal body that will help to develop a national plan to improve freight movement. In addition, he said the new "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" transportation bill signed into law this summer by Obama gives DOT $1.75bn for its TIFIA loan program that can be put to work to improve the nation's intermodal freight network. In 2010, Obama set out a five-year goal to double U.S. exports by 2015.
Air cargo now accounts for 31 percent of the total value of U.S. exports, LaHood said. "In order to accomplish President Obama's goal, we need a thriving air cargo industry to help America's leading industries move their products to market quickly and efficiently. We are strengthening the movement of freight across land, air and sea."
Noting that the industry still faces many challenges surrounding customs and cargo security, he also called on other governments to open up markets. "We know that some foreign governments are still practicing protectionism in their markets, to the detriment of many. But we will continue to work hand in hand with you, our partners here at home and abroad to ensure that our dynamic and growing cargo industry continues to be a leader in the market, increasing global trade and creating jobs."
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