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March 23, 2022

US shipping reform legislation moves forward

The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform bill yesterday (22 March), which the US apparel industry believes will strengthen the overseas apparel supply chain.

By Laura Husband

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) sent a letter to the committee ahead of the vote, outlining why the bill is vital for bolstering the Federal Maritime Commission and strengthening the overseas supply chain for the wider industry.

The bill is still subject to approval by the full Senate, however, committee chair Senator Maria Cantwell explained in her opening statement the importance of passing strong ocean shipping reform legislation.

“We also know here, in the Committee, that these ocean shipping companies are making record profits. They have made US$150bn dollars in profits in 2021, and ocean import volume for the first quarter of this year is forecast to increase by more than 30%. Our farmers don’t want special treatment. They just don’t want to be exploited for the sake of record profits.” 

In a letter addressed to Senator Cantwell, AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar said the apparel industry has been hit hard by the shipping crisis.

“Long delays, contract breaches, price gouging and excessive and unjust fees by carriers, and lack of access to equipment to move our product have translated huge delays and exorbitant costs that have translated into surging inflation that has threatened our economic recovery.”

Specifically, Lamar said the S. 3580, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 will:

• Stop unfair late fees – known as detention and demurrage (D&D) charges – charged by ocean carriers
• Empower the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to investigate unreasonable practices by ocean carriers
• Block ocean carriers from unreasonably declining cargo
• Improve data collection and reporting requirements.

He added the bill will put in place “common sense reforms that will go a long way to ending the current shipping crisis and preventing the next shipping crisis.”

Last month, both AAFA and National Retail Federation (NRF) showed their support for the US Senate introducing the ocean shipping reform bill to help end the shipping crisis.

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