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Garamendi Thanks President Biden for Endorsing his Bipartisan “Ocean Shipping Reform Act”

November 17, 2021
Press Release
Garamendi’s Bipartisan Legislation with Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) will Empower the Federal Maritime Commission to Support American Exports and Address Trade Imbalances

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, thanked President Joe Biden for his public support of his bipartisan “Ocean Shipping Reform Act” (H.R.4996).

Garamendi introduced the legislation with Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD) to provide the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) with the necessary tools to support American exporters, protect consumers, and establish reciprocal trade opportunities to reduce America’s longstanding trade imbalance with China and other countries.

Today, the White House endorsed the legislation in a press release outlining progress that has been made in recent days to reduce port congestion. The statement reads, “Congress should provide the FMC an updated toolbox to protect exporters, importers, and consumers from unfair practices. There is bipartisan support for doing this, including a bipartisan bill sponsored by California Democrat John Garamendi and South Dakota Republican Dusty Johnson. Their proposed legislation includes good first steps towards the type of longer-term reform to shipping laws that would strengthen America’s global competitiveness.”

“Access to the American market and its consumers is a privilege, not a right,” Garamendi said. “It is critically important to restore balance at our ports and tackle the longstanding trade imbalance our nation has with China and others head on. I am deeply honored by President Biden’s support for the ‘Ocean Shipping Reform Act,’ which I introduced with my colleague Representative Dusty Johnson. Our bill has strong bipartisan support in Congress because it provides a commonsense fix to a problem that has plagued American exporters and consumers for years. With the President’s public support, I am confident we can enact this legislation into law and finally empower the FMC to bolster America’s global economic competitiveness and lower costs for American consumers,” Garamendi concluded.

The “Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021” would:

·      Establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission.

·      Require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry.

·      Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees —known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges—comply with federal regulations or face penalties.

·      Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier or marine terminal operator.

·      Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for U.S. exports unreasonably, as determined by the FMC in new required rulemaking.

·      Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States.

·      Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate.

Congress last updated the Federal Maritime Commission’s authority to regulate the global ocean shipping industry under the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-258). The People’s Republic of China was granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States, so-called “most-favored nation” status, in December 2001 following the country’s admission to the World Trade Organization.

In late April 2020, the Federal Maritime Commission announced “Fact Finding No. 29” to investigate congestion, bottlenecks, and fees at our ports. In November 2020, the Commission expanded this investigation (Fact Finding No. 29) to include reports of ocean carriers declining to ship American exports.

On July 20, 2021, the FMC launched a new audit program to assess ocean carriers’ compliance with federal regulations on detention and demurrage and increase the agency’s monitoring of the marketplace for ocean cargo services. This action underscores the need for legislation.

The following organizations have endorsed the “Ocean Shipping Reform Act”:

National Endorsements: Agriculture Transportation Coalition; National Industrial Transportation League; American Farm Bureau Federation; National Retail Federation; American Trucking Associations (ATA); American Apparel & Footwear Association; Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference, ATA; American Chemistry Council; American Cotton Shippers Association; American Feed Industry Association; American Pulse Association; American Seed Trade Association; Consumer Brands Association; Corn Refiners Association; Cotton Warehouse Association of America; Dairy Farmers of America; Hardwood Federation; Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference, ATA; International Dairy Foods Association; International Housewares Association; International Paper; Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.; Leather and Hide Council of America; Meat Import Council of America; National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; National Association of Chemical Distributors; National Chicken Council; National Cotton Council; National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; National Hay Association; National Milk Producers Federation; National Oilseed Processors Association; National Onion Association; National Pork Producers Council; North American Meat Institute; North American Renderers Association; Pet Food Institute; Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance; The Fertilizer Institute; Travel Goods Association; U.S. Dairy Export Council; U.S. Dry Bean Council; U.S. Forage Export Council; U.S. Meat Export Federation; U.S. Pea and Lentil Trade Association; United Fresh Produce Association; USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council; Western Agricultural Processors Association; Wine and Spirits Shippers Association

California Endorsements: California Farm Bureau Federation; California Rice Commission; Almond Alliance of California; California Citrus Mutual; California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association; California Fresh Fruit Association; California Table Grape Commission; California Walnut Commission; Sunsweet Growers Inc.; Western Growers Association; Pacific Coast Council Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders (Northern California, Los Angeles, and San Diego Associations)