Industry News

What is the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021?


The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) has been calling on Congress to modernize the Shipping Act of 1984. The NITL proposes four major recommendations:

  • Establish rules prohibiting common carriers and marine terminal operators from adopting and applying unjust and unreasonable demurrage and detention rules and practices by codifying the industry guidance issued by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in the spring of 2020, and shifting the burden of proof for complaints onto the service providers to show that their practices are reasonable and comply with the rules.

  • Clarify the obligations of common carriers with respect to equipment and vessel space allocations and contract performance by requiring them to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest. Ocean carriers would also be required to develop contingency service plans during periods of port congestion to mitigate supply chain disruptions.
  • Modify the prohibited acts to address unfair business practices related to the instrumentalities required to perform the transportation services, including access to, allocation of, and interchange of equipment, and any unreasonable allocations of vessel space by ocean common carriers considering foreseeable import and export demand.
  • Expand the FMC’s authority to act upon complaints filed against anticompetitive agreements between ocean carriers that operate with antitrust immunity, such as alliances, and allowing third-party intervenors to participate in court proceedings initiated by the FMC against such agreements.

Truckers have also expressed concern saying that the current infrastructure is insufficient to handle the intermodal aspect of international trade. Additional resources are needed for truckers to be able to access ports in a timely manner.

Last week, a bill known as the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 was announced by Representatives Garamendi and Johnson. The full text can be viewed here as well as the summary document here. The National Industrial Transportation League has worked hard to get the attention needed to address financial and logistical challenges being faced by shippers due to our disrupted supply chains. The bill offers solutions and relief to businesses impacted.

To support the bill complete this form by Wednesday, September 8th to be a signatory on the letter of support.