ATA says Ocean Shipping Reform Act would help end abusive practices in maritime ports
Arlington, Virginia – American Trucking Associations is cheering passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, H.R. 4996, which cleared the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 364-60 last night. Introduced by Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), the bill is the first major update for laws governing U.S. maritime port operations in more than 20 years.
ATA says the legislation is needed to end abusive practices imposed on American trucking companies at U.S. maritime ports by ocean carriers, most of which are foreign-owned. Specifically, the trucking industry seeks relief from excessive detention and demurrage charges—unfair fees levied on motor carriers by ocean carriers and marine terminal operators when shipping containers are not moved on schedule, even though delays are typically due to factors entirely outside truckers’ control and often the result of inefficiencies caused by the ocean carriers themselves.
The legislation mandates a new rulemaking by the Federal Maritime Commission to prohibit unjust and unreasonable detention and demurrage practices, including an examination of the appropriate billing parties for those charges. Members of ATA’s Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference and Agriculture and Food Transporters Conference say such changes are critical to improving the treatment of truckers servicing our ports.
“Ensuring fair practices at our ports is critical to ensuring goods get from docks to warehouses and store shelves,” said Jon Eisen, director of ATA’s IMCC. “House passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a major step toward modernizing regulations to reflect the commercial realities of ocean freight and their impact on our domestic transportation networks. ATA welcomes the improvements in this bill and a vigorous debate over these issues.”
H.R. 4996 also adds supporting the growth and development of U.S. exports and promoting reciprocal trade in foreign commerce to the mission of the FMC.
“For too long we have seen negative impacts within our agricultural and food supply chains and believe this language is a step in the right direction to remedying those problems,” said Jon Samson, executive director of ATA’s AFTC. “The U.S. exports a significant amount of agricultural and food products, and we are appreciative that Congress recognizes that and has moved forward in support of our industry.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where Commerce Committee members are currently drafting companion legislation.