The World Shipping Council (WSC) — the primary industry trade association representing the international liner shipping industry — has issued a statement responding to the US Senate Markup of Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
Ocean carriers said the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 does nothing to solve the main causes of the continuing congestion across US ports.
"The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, S.3580 which was marked up today by the Senate Commerce Committee, addresses none of the root causes of the US landside congestion," WSC said.
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 Americans continue to import goods at record levels — so much so that the US ports and landside logistics workforce is unable to process all the cargo.
"Ocean carriers have deployed every vessel and every container available, and are moving more goods than at any point in history, but the US landside logjams are keeping vessels stuck outside US ports," the statement said, adding that this import congestion is also consuming the capacity and space needed to ensure the uninterrupted flow of US exports.
Making congestion worse?
"While the Senate is taking a more deliberative approach that the House's flawed process in passing the Ocean Reform Act of 2021, H.R.4996, neither chamber's version of the bill does anything to fix the landside logistics breakdowns that are at the heart of America's supply chain problems," WSC added. "In fact, the House bill would make existing congestion worse."
The group went on to say that comparatively, the Senate bill – despite carrying some of the same risks of unintended negative consequences – provides regulators enough authority to get the final rules right.
"Instead of passing legislation that would do nothing to address the nation's supply chain congestion, Congress should seek real solutions that take a comprehensive, forward-looking view," WSC added.
"That means continued investment in port infrastructure and promoting communication, innovation, and collaboration across sectors to further strengthen the intermodal transportation system that has supported the US economy throughout the pandemic," the trade organization continued.
The US Senate Commerce Committee approved the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. The legislation now awaits full Senate consideration.
The Ocean Shipping seeks to level the playing field for American farmers, exporters, and consumers by making it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse goods that are ready to export at US ports.
Bill sponsor Senator John Thune (South Dakota) said the legislation would also give the Federal Maritime Commission greater rulemaking authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers.