Freight News, Sea

US reforms unfair and unworkable, says World Shipping Council

[ August 10, 2021   //   ]

A bill to amend the US Shipping Act expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives on 10 August contains serious flaws, says the World Shipping Council.

While the new legislation attempts to address recent supply chain congestion WSC takes issue with the suggestion that ocean carriers are solely responsible for the current supply chain congestion and “is infused with fundamental unfairness”, it says. The bill ignores the fact that all supply chain participants are working collaboratively to find solutions to problems.

With marine terminals, truckers, rail services and warehouses all under tremendous strain, it is unrealistic and inequitable to address these supply chain-wide challenges by regulating only ocean carriers. 

This approach will not improve supply chain performance, and risks undermining the regulatory and market structure that has served the nation’s international trade well for many decades, making the current situation even worse, argues WSC.

The bill would require ocean carriers to make certifications on why customers do not return equipment on time, in situations in which the facts cannot be known to the them. 

Ports, carriers, labour, marine terminal operators, rail, truckers, chassis providers and shippers are collaboratively working to find operational solutions to increase efficiency and have met with some success, WSC suggests. 

US import cargo is moving at historic levels, and US government statistics indicate that agricultural exports are moving at or near pre-pandemic, and in some cases record levels.

WSC says that the legislation ignores this and instead seeks to have government step in and tilt the market in favor of shippers in commercial disputes

It could also trigger a protectionist race to the bottom in other countries, it says.