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US President Biden lauds passage of Ocean Shipping Reform Act 2022

Photo: YouTube screenshot US President Biden giving State of the Union Address
The US Congress has passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) 2022 to the cheers of shippers, and politicians, but the chagrin of carriers.

There had been little doubt that the bill which will expand the powers of the Federal Maritime Commission over container lines would be passed, and it now moves on to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

In a statement issued by the Whitehouse President Biden repeated previous comments about lines increasing rates by over 1,000% during the pandemic and carriers refusing to ship US exports back to Asia.

“Lowering prices for Americans is my top priority, and I applaud the Congress for passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on a bipartisan basis, which will help lower costs for American retailers, farmers and consumers,” the President said. He added that he looked forward to signing the bill into law.

High ocean freight rates are being blamed for inflation and international container lines with little political sway in Washington represent an easy target.

US National Retail Federation (NRF) Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French stated: “Making OSRA federal law helps address longstanding systemic supply chain and port disruption issues that existed well before the pandemic by providing the Federal Maritime Commission the additional authority it needs.

“These improvements come at a time when inflation has reached a 40-year high. NRF has championed the effort to pass OSRA as one of the steps necessary to Lower Inflation Now and ease pressure on American businesses, workers and consumers.”

The US Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) said OSRA would strengthen the FMC and put in place commonsense reforms that will be instrumental in combatting the current shipping crisis and preventing the next shipping crisis. 

Shipping lines that have battled supply chain disruption throughout the pandemic, but come up trumps in terms of record high freight rates.

The World Shipping Council (WSC) stated: "We are appalled by the continued mischaracterization of the industry by US government representatives, and concerned about the disconnect between hard data and inflammatory rhetoric. The 22 (not nine) international carriers that serve the American people, industry and government on the Asia - United States trade are part of the global supply chain that has built this country, importing and exporting food, medicine, electronics, chemicals, and everything else we depend on.”

It said that increased freight rates were due to demand outstripping supply and landside congestion, calling for a commitment to invest in landside logistics infrastructure. 

“Until the import congestion is remedied, export congestion will persist. The World Shipping Council will continue to work with federal and state policymakers, as well as other parties, to pursue the necessary lasting solutions – such as continued investment in port infrastructure – that can have real impact in strengthening the intermodal transportation system that has supported the US economy through the pandemic,” WSC added.