The interim president of the S.C. State Ports Authority will present a deal to Maersk-Sealand executives in Charlotte, N.C. today aimed at keeping at least some of the company’s business with the Port of Charleston.
Maersk announced two months ago that it was pulling out of Charleston entirely when its contracts with the Ports Authority expire in 2010, and the company will be moving almost half of its business from Charleston to other U.S ports beginning in March of this year.
Former Ports Authority president Bernard Groseclose resigned in the wake of the Maersk flap, and lawmakers have used the incident to try and strip the governor of his appointment power over Ports Authority board members.
The new deal offered by interim SPA president John Hassell is rumored to give Maersk flexibility over paying “shortfall fees,” or charges assessed by the Ports Authority if a company does not meet certain quotas for container traffic passing through the port.
Of course, the fundamental issue of port managment remains unaddressed, with the SPA still refusing to utilize public-private partnerships at its port facilities.
Even before the global recession began, the Port of Charleston was dropping like a rock compared to other U.S. ports, slipping from No. 4 to No. 8 in the nation.
Also, Ports Authority executives have been working behind the scenes to block the construction of a new deepwater port in Jasper County for decades.