WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on Dec. 8, which will work to strengthen the position of US shipping as supply chain issues continue to be top of mind for many businesses in the United States.  

The bill is designed to prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining cargo bookings. The House passed the measure 364-60 and will move over to the Senate for consideration. 

The legislation was introduced by Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD). 

“We’ve all been impacted by the backlog in the supply chain and shipping delays,” Johnson said. “China and the foreign flagged ocean carriers aren’t playing fair, and accountability is long overdue. If you want to do business with American ports, you need to play by our basic rules. I am proud of the coalition Congressman Garamendi and I have worked to build over the last year.”

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 was the last time Congress passed legislation that included the Federal Maritime Commission’s authority to regulate the global ocean shipping industry. 

Following the passage in the House, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) announced its full support of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. 

“The problems at our ports have been exacerbated by the unreasonable practices of foreign-owned ocean carriers, including delays of shipments of American made goods to overseas trading partners,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of NAMI. “These delays result in major costs to meat and poultry companies as their perishable products await transport.”

NAMI said carriers are unreasonably declining or canceling export cargo bookings and providing little to no notice to exporters, which delays shipments by week or months. 

“The resulting inability of shippers to deliver their products to their foreign customers on schedule negatively impacts the reliability of American exports, jeopardizing export values and market share,” NAMI stated. 

During September, NAMI and 70 agriculture associations called on President Joe Biden to address ocean carrier practices hurting the nation’s economic recovery. 

In a letter, the groups said, “The cost to ship a container has increased between 300% and 500% in the past two years; US producers are losing from 10%-40% of their export value to these added costs; an informal survey suggests that US agriculture exporters’ inability to perform is leading to a loss of 22% of their sales.”