WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation that supports American exports by establishing reciprocal trade opportunities to help reduce the United States’ longstanding trade imbalance with China.
This bill addresses unfair business practices of foreign-flagged ocean carriers that have intensified supply chain issues, hurting American businesses and consumers.
U.S. producers have seen shipping costs increasing up to 500%, driving higher prices for consumer goods and creating logjams in our supply chains at ports. This bill would be the first major update of federal regulations for the global ocean shipping industry since 1998. These changes will bolster support for U.S. companies, their workers, and the consumers who rely on the shipping industry to move goods expeditiously.
Problem Solvers, Representatives Dusty Johnson (SD- At-large) and Jim Costa (CA-16) brought the bill for endorsement, which garnered the support of more than 75 percent of the Caucus.
“We are currently facing a shipping and supply chain crisis. These supply chain issues, along with increasing costs and delays, are badly impacting our small businesses, families, and local economies, especially with the holiday season around the corner,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05). “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the average cost of shipping a container increase from $2,000 to an exorbitant $20,000. With these record-high costs to shipping, I’m proud to cosponsor the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which will alleviate pressure at our nation’s ports, support American businesses, and bring costs down, which will provide crucial relief to hardworking families and small businesses in North Jersey and nationwide.”
“American families, consumers, and small businesses should not be suffering from the supply chain shortages and rising prices that are further exacerbated by bottlenecks at our ports,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01). “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is an immediate, bipartisan response that will ensure that foreign-flagged carriers are playing by the rules and will help to alleviate the inflationary pressures that we are seeing play out across the economy now.”
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 would:
- Establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission.
- Require ocean carriers to follow minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry.
- Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees —known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges—comply with federal regulations or face penalties.
- Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier or marine terminal operator.
- Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for U.S. exports unreasonably.
- Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States.
- Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate.
The full text of the legislation is available here.