October at-a-glance … supply chain

Shipping reform bill under review by House

Shipping issues continue to plague businesses around the world. Although industry leaders do not expect the challenges to subside anytime soon, the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 could provide longer-term relief. The bill, and its provisions, was recommended by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and informed by a study it conducted of shippers. As currently written, the bill would:

  • Prohibit charges when containers are unavailable to shippers.
  • Require carriers to provide a notice of cargo availability, container return locations and adequate notice of dates when the export container must arrive at the terminal.
  • Prevent carriers from restricting access to containers or chassis or other equipment.

“Trade must be mutually beneficial, and that is exactly what our bipartisan bill ensures,” said sponsor Representative John Garamendi (D-CA). “Foreign ocean carriers aren’t playing fair and American producers are paying the price,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD). “It’s time for updated rules of the road.”

However, not everyone is in favor of the bill. World Shipping Council President and CEO John Butler says, “You can’t fix the supply chain by penalizing one or two actors.” He points out that “Carriers don’t control the entire supply chain and this is an entire supply chain problem. There’s nothing in the bill that will increase infrastructure in the United States to allow us to better deal with future surges in cargo. So, from a policy standpoint, the bill really doesn’t bring anything to the table.”

The bill, introduced in the House in August, has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. NAFEM has advocated for passage of the Act, along with 152 groups, including 59 companies and 93 trade associations.

NAFEM provides input on transportation challenges to Presidential Task Force

In June, President Biden established the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, co-chaired by the secretaries of Agriculture, Transportation and Commerce, to address supply chain challenges with a focus on alleviating bottlenecks for ports, rail, and trucking. To determine how to best strengthen resilience among transportation supply chains, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a request for information that NAFEM replied to Oct. 18. In its comments, NAFEM stated: “like most U.S. manufacturing businesses, members have struggled with a myriad of supply chain and logistical disruptions that threaten survival.” A full report from the Task Force is due to the president in June 2022.