The World Shipping Council (WSC) — the primary industry trade association representing the international liner shipping industry — has issued a statement responded to what they call a "planned attack" on ocean carriers by United States' President Joe Biden in his State of the Union Address.
Biden is set to deliver his first State of the Union Address on Tuesday, March 1.
"It is unfortunate that the President is demonizing ocean carriers, the industry that is the backbone of the US and global economy and that has been working around the clock through the pandemic to move more cargo than at any time in history," the WSC said in a statement ahead of Biden's speech.
The trade association with members including the world's biggest ocean carriers such as MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, the COSCO Group, Hapag-Lloyd, among others, said allegations that the container shipping industry is "highly concentrated and uncompetitive are factually incorrect."
"Ocean carriers actively compete against one another in the global marketplace, including on the shipping lanes most relevant for US trade, while concentration levels in many other US industries are markedly higher than those in container shipping," the statement said.
"In a clear sign of a competitive market responding to increased demand, competition increased in 2021, with more ships operated by a larger pool of carriers serving the trans-Pacific trade," it added.
The trade association noted that the bottom line is that "container shipping is a very competitive industry"
"This is what the numbers show. Regulators in the US and Europe have repeatedly and recently confirmed that this is the case," WSC continued.
Ocean Shipping Reform Act "deeply flawed"
The group went on to described the Biden administration's "Ocean Shipping Reform Act" — which is designed to prohibit ocean carriers from "unreasonably declining their cargo" and also tightening rules around detention and demurrage — as "deeply flawed."
"The deeply flawed Ocean Shipping Reform Act passed by the House will not solve the landside logistics breakdowns that are at the heart of America’s supply chain problems. In fact, the legislation as written would make existing congestion worse and stifle innovation," WSC said.
"Policymakers must instead address the root cause of the logjam by seeking real solutions that take a comprehensive, forward-looking view of the supply chain, further strengthening the intermodal transportation system that has supported the U.S. economy throughout the pandemic," the shipping association added.