Thursday, December 17, 2020

Federal Maritime Commissioners Express Concerns Over US Export Cargoes

Reports of Shipping Lines Refusing Goods as Ocean Supply Chain Struggles
Shipping News Feature

US – Two Commissioners from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) have written to the World Shipping Council (WSC) to express their concern regarding reports they have received that certain ocean carriers are refusing to accept export goods from the United States.

The pair directed their concerns to WSC President John Butler stating that, whilst they understood the current surge of import cargoes into the US has stretched the supply chain’s capacity to handle cargo in certain seaports, this should not be to the detriment of American exporters. They stress it is imperative to strive for a balanced trade to keep the supply chain fully effective and efficient, while maintaining vital export opportunities for the US agriculture and manufacturing bases.

The letter states that these immense fluctuations in trade caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have been exacerbated by shortages of longshore labour and drayage trucking, labour and space shortages in inland distribution warehousing, and the inadequate supplies of intermodal chassis and containers.

The two Commissioners go on to point out that the obligations of common carriers under the Shipping Act of 1916 means they are not entitled to ‘unreasonably refuse to deal or negotiate’ or ‘boycott or take any other concerted action’, and that while recognising this obligation is ‘not unfettered’ it should be construed by the industry to stress the importance of the provision of export cargo services.

The letter, from Commissioners Carl W Bentzel and Daniel B Maffei, concludes:

”Although we are very concerned about reports of refusals to provide service to our export community, we would be remiss in not acknowledging the extraordinary challenges caused to the supply chain because of Covid-19.

”We would also be remiss if we did not acknowledge and thank the member companies of the World Shipping Council for their continuing services during the pandemic. We both truly believe that they played a great role in helping our Nation sustain itself during this tribulation.”

Photo: Courtesy of Port of New York & New Jersey.