The so-called sequester — automatic cuts in federal spending that began on March 1 — is predicted to have significant impact on the movement of cargo through US ports.
According to the Newark Star Ledger, US Customs has warned of five-day delays for container inspections at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the busiest port on the East Coast. Port representatives predict the delay will cause a greater “backlog of containers that the crowded port doesn’t have room for.”
On the West Coast, there are similar concerns. As reported in The Washington Post,
Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, which handles 40 percent of the nation’s imports, said uncertainty about how the cuts will affect operations make it difficult to plan. “We’re not sure where this is going to go,” he said. “There are a lot of people whose jobs depend on this [port].”
The Department of Homeland Security, which includes US Customs, expects delays to become widespread “as the department begins furloughing employees.” Furlough letters may be sent to employees as early as tomorrow.
For the latest CBP guidance on the sequester, see the agency’s information page.