Date: Thursday, April 8th, 2021
The Federal Maritime Commission, America’s shipping regulator, met virtually and in closed session yesterday to discuss developments in the ongoing Fact Finding 29 investigation of challenges to the freight delivery system and possible Shipping Act violations, and to receive a briefing on the agency’s monitoring activities of ocean carrier alliances.
This was the first meeting presided over by chairman Daniel Maffei since being designated head of agency by president Joe Biden last week.
Commissioner Rebecca Dye, who serves as the fact finding officer for Fact Finding 29, reported on developments related to her investigation into the behaviour and practices of certain ocean carriers and marine terminal operators during the past six months where US supply chains have been stretched to the maximum.
“While most participants in the supply chain are doing their best to cope with the unprecedented import boom, there are reports of containership lines and terminal operators unfairly taking advantage of the situation or denying service to exporters in a way that may violate the Shipping Act. We must get to the bottom of this situation ASAP and that’s why Commissioner Dye’s investigation is crucial,” said Maffei.
Other nations have been investigating liner activity in recent months, including China and South Korea.
Maffei and Dye met with the leaders of two important House subcommittees on Tuesday to discuss the country’s shipping problems.
“These issues clearly have their attention and companies providing ocean transportation services would be well served to voluntarily take steps that address these challenges,” Maffei warned yesterday.
The commission is taking a close look at the make up of the three global liner alliances and what this trio means in terms of competition.
Congestion at many of America’s main ports remains a severe issue with more than 25 ships at anchor in San Pedro Bay, more than 15 at Oakland and a long vessel queue also recorded at Savannah.
Major brands including Nike, Honda and Toyota have all commented on US supply chain disruptions hitting inventories in recent quarterly earnings calls, while the American farming community has repeatedly hit out at the difficulties in getting their products exported.