Container carrier representatives in Washington are pushing back hard against legislation introduced Tuesday aimed at addressing yearlong complaints against carriers by their customers alleging service failures and unfair pricing they say would have disastrous consequences for container markets.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, spearheaded by Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., imposes minimum requirements on ocean carrier service contracts and shifts the burden of proof in regulatory proceedings from shippers to the container lines. It also establishes reciprocal trade as part of the FMC’s mission – including mandating that ocean carriers cannot decline export cargo if the containers can be loaded safely and within a reasonable time frame.
“An effective marketplace has to be fair and predictable. Unfortunately, foreign ocean carriers aren’t being fair and predictable, and it’s time to change that,” Johnson said during a briefing of the legislation. “This update is overdue. It’s been since 1998 that we’ve had major changes to this regulatory environment and a lot has changed since then.”
Among other new powers given to the FMC in overseeing the ocean carriers, the legislation:
In addition, the legislation allows third parties to challenge anti-competitive agreements in FMC complaints and establishes a new process for addressing demurrage and detention complaints giving the FMC a more active role in investigating them.
Source: Freight Waves