ap-port-strike-4_3_r560The United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) have come to an agreement to continue negotiations for 30 more days, averting potential port strikes at Gulf and East Coast ports. The two ports account for high 95% of the Eastern seaboard containerized shipments.

National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement that throughout the negotiation process the NRF had stressed to the parties the need to keep the ports operational for commerce and international trade. He said that the containers and cargo that flow through these ports were the economic lifelines of the retail industry. Shay also noted that though the extension of negotiations is good news to the retail industry, they were urging that the two sides remain in the negotiations until a lasting agreement is reached and finalized. Shay further said that the extension was a good sign since Superstorm Sandy and an 8-day port strike in Long Beach and Los Angeles in early December 2012 had caused some devastation. The two parties, it showed, understood the risks of shutting down the ports and they were heeding calls by the shipping industry to stay at the negotiating table.

The 14 East and Gulf Coast ports were faced with a potential strike following an expiration of the date of negotiations, which had no signs of extension.

The NRF has members drawn from the retail industry and industry partners, and chain restaurants in the U.S. and 45 more countries aboard.

The National Retail Federation had written to President Obama last week urging him to intervene in the row between the ILA and USMX that had seemed to be unfruitful and with time running out.