Industry Support Strongly Needed For Legislation To Alleviate Shipping Woes

Ocean carriers continue to raise prices in response to the current supply chain crisis. The increased shipping costs enable carriers to make record profits while importers in our industry and others are bearing some of the highest rates documented in exchange for inefficient shipping services. Congress has introduced a bipartisan bill to address some of these issues, but legislators need to hear from the promotional products industry practitioners themselves about why passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 (OSRA) is so necessary.

Opponents of OSRA 2021 are spreading several myths on Capitol Hill, including denying the severity of the supply chain disruptions, claiming the bill (H.R. 4996) will cause delays in cargo pickups and blaming the supply chain problems solely on the pandemic-based market disruptions. It is important for domestic shippers to dispel these myths and convince Congress to provide relief from the current supply chain problems by passing a long-overdue update to shipping law.

As a result of the current supply chain disruptions, businesses in the promotional products industry are facing significant delays in moving and receiving cargo promptly. The demand for finished goods and inputs to production is outpacing the supply of equipment, labor and vessel space, resulting in significant congestion and increased costs and fees. OSRA 2021 would implement common-sense reforms to address long-standing issues in the maritime shipping industry, which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) is intended to alleviate longstanding challenges in the global shipping industry. OSRA 2021 essentially creates a shippers’ bill of rights. It shifts the balance of power from ocean carriers to entities who are shipping products by empowering the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to enhance its enforcement of U.S. laws that regulate shipping practices. There are several components of OSRA that have not been updated since 1998, and the landscape has shifted significantly in the past 20-plus years.

Other provisions in the updated version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 include:

  • Requiring transport companies to ensure they have capacity when entering contracts
  • Curtailing price-gouging for containers and detention and demurrage charges
  • Shifting the burden to service providers to prove why a specific charge is needed or reasonable by mandating itemization of the charge
  • Requiring transport companies to certify with the FMC that they are complying with OSRA 2021
  • Strengthening anti-retaliation provisions for companies who file complaints with the FMC

Thanks to advocacy by promotional products professionals and other members of the coalition, the number of legislators co-sponsoring the OSRA update in the House of Representatives has grown to 44 in recent days, but it is important that all members of the House hear from their constituents about how critical the swift passage of this bill is to your businesses. Click here to contact your House representative and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4996, Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021. PPAI’s advocacy platform will determine who the appropriate legislator is and give you the option of sending an editable, pre-written form letter and calling your representative to voice your support of H.R. 4996.

If any industry member schedules a meeting with a representative, please notify PPAI Public Affairs Manager Maurice Norris at MauriceN@ppai.org.

filed under October 2021
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