Freight Shippers Call on Congress to Reform Shipping Law and FMC
As congestion, delays, rising bottoms and lack of equipment at U.S. ports have caused unprecedented disruption to the shipping network, freight shippers call on U.S. Congress to take action to modernize regulations and the role of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). The latest effort follows repeated complaints from shippers to the FMC accusing carriers of unfair trading practices and excessive charges. While the FMC expressed concern about market conditions, these new proposals were immediately criticized by representatives of shipping companies.
“The current shipping turmoil has taken its toll on US exporters and importers, costing them billions of dollars in shipping, demurrage and retention, and losing business with no clear end in sight,” he said. writes the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL). publishing the 1984 Navigation Law reform proposals it submitted to Congress.
The proposal according to the NITL is designed to provide remedies for importers and exporters who face unprecedented shipping costs and the inability to obtain adequate shipping service to meet their freight delivery needs. , as well as concerns about unfair trade practices.
“As shipping costs reach unprecedented levels, we have seen a substantial deterioration in service from shipping carriers,” said Lori Fellmer, Director of NITL and Chair of the Oceanic Committee. “Lack of timely access to marine equipment and ship navigations has had a negative ripple effect on US business supply chains, leading to equipment shortages, empty shelves and business disruptions. . NITL believes that the inability of exporters and importers to effectively address these business challenges means that the time has come to update the Shipping Act to reflect current circumstances. “
NITL’s proposal provides four main recommendations for amending the navigation law, including the treatment of demurrage and detention charges, obligations of carriers to provide equipment and space for ships, modification of regulations to address what they consider to be unfair trade practices related to the allocation of equipment and space. on ships, as well as the expansion of the CMF’s power to act on complaints against carriers. Among the more controversial elements is a call to shift the burden of proof of complaints onto service providers to show that their practices are reasonable and comply with the rules.
“The NITL proposal addresses many issues faced by the maritime community and seeks to fill gaps in the current law. While the League warmly commends the regulatory efforts launched by the CMF in recent years, we believe the agency and the transportation industry would benefit greatly from these proposed reforms which aim to address current challenges, ”said Fellmer.
Over the past year, FMC Commissioners have expressed concern about the issues raised by shippers and have studied business practices and associated costs. New CMF chairman Daniel Maffei, speaking at a briefing hosted by the Port of Los Angeles, said he plans to raise issues related to royalties and improving information sharing in American ports in response to the concerns of shippers and more particularly of troubled exports. to move their goods to foreign markets.
However, the World Shipping Council, representing global carriers, quickly responded to NITL’s calls for reforms to the shipping law, saying the proposals were unnecessary and too burdensome for an already overloaded system. They said the legislative action and the proposal, which would actually have Congress micro-manage the CMF, were not the appropriate actions. They called on shippers, ports and carriers to work together to address the challenges posed by the strains created on the shipping supply chain due to the overwhelming growth in demand over the past year.