CalChamber Hosts Five California District Export Councils in Virtual Meeting
On May 12, 2021, the California Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting of business representatives who make up the five California District Export Councils, in addition to federal trade officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Together with the CalChamber Council for International Trade, the Northern California District Export Council (DEC) co-hosted the event. The District Export Councils (five in California and 60 nationwide with a total of 1500 members) contribute leadership and international trade expertise to complement the U.S. Commercial Service’s export promotion efforts.
The featured speaker was Commissioner Carl Bentzel, of the Federal Maritime Commission. Commissioner Carl Bentzel was nominated to the Five-member Federal Maritime Committee by President Trump in 2019, to a term expiring in 2024. Previously, the Commissioner served as Vice President of a full-scale public relations firm, the DCI Group. Mr. Bentzel served the public sector for ten years as Senior Democratic Counsel of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, and Counsel for Maritime Policy of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. Here, the Commissioner’s primary areas of responsibility were issues on maritime transportation; rail, surface & pipeline transportation; and homeland security. Mr. Bentzel served as one of the principals in crafting: the Maritime Security Act of 1996, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, and in 2002, after the attacks on 9/11, the Maritime Transportation Security Act. For these efforts, Commissioner Bentzel was awarded the Coast Guard’s Medal for Meritorious Public Service and the Maritime Security Council’s Man of the Year award. Mr. Bentzel is also the author of the chapter on Port Security within McGraw-Hill’s Handbook on Homeland Security. Commissioner Bentzel earned his Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University, his JD from the University of Alabama, and his Master of Laws from the Admiralty Law Institute, Tulane University.
The Federal Maritime Commission is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and the U.S. consumer, and thereby ensuring a competitive and reliable international ocean transportation supply system that supports the U.S. economy and protects the public from unfair and deceptive practices.
Other speakers during the event included National DEC Chair, Shawn Levsen; Laura Barmby, DEC Coordinator with the U.S. Department of Commerce; and the U.S. Commercial Service’s Regional Director for the Pacific-North, David Fiscus, as well as the Regional Director for the Pacific-South, Colleen Simons. The group heard an update from the five California DECs. They also discussed the current issues facing the trade community and the U.S. Department of Commerce including port congestion.
The California DECs agreed upon a letter to send to the Federal Maritime Commission on the important issue of port congestion and global supply chains. This was the fourth letter the California DECs have sent to federal representatives:
- Federal Maritime Commission – Port Congestion and Remedies for California Exporters, 5/12/2021
- Support for International Issues, 7/31/2020
- Support for the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., 9/10/2019
- Support for the USMCA, 5/22/2019