More than 300 members of the marine industry descend on Washington, DC

More than 300 members of the marine industry – from manufacturers to marina operators to standards-setting organisations – descended on Washington, DC today for the American Boating Congress (ABC); three-days of educating Congress about government issues and policies and their impact on the marine industry.

Not surprisingly, international trade tops of list of agenda items along with environmental and conservation policy, access and infrastructure, safety & education, and workforce development.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is one of the sponsoring co-host organisations, and its senior VP of Legal & Government Affairs, Nicole Vasilaros, is encouraged by the level of participation that is some 25% higher than last year’s record attendance.

“I can’t underscore enough how Important it is to bring people to Washington,” Vasilaros told IBI in a pre-conference interview last week. “We have a great team here in DC and we’re working all year, but [Congress] needs to hear from actual [constituent] businesses. Hearing directly from marine businesses on how they are impacted by trade policy and other issues is really critical and this juncture.”

Vasilaros added that with over 100 new members of Congress, it is important to educate the members on the people and businesses and the number of jobs the marine industry represents.

With President Trump’s move late last week to raise to 25% tariffs on Chinese goods, Vasilaros points out that members of his own Republican party are starting to push back on tariffs and trade.

“They can’t really hide behind party affiliation,” Vasilaros advises, “because they know that the impact on their constituents is real.”

The industry’s participation in advocacy has been on the rise for the last several years, but has reached a critical mass during the past 18 months of so-called tariff and trade wars.

“Yes, people are paying attention, but more importantly are getting involved,” she said, adding: “They are realising that politics matters and decisions that are made [in Washington], all the way down to the local level, have an impact on their business and the best way they can help influence and control that impact is by participating in the advocacy process.”