Two federal maritime commissioners sent a letter to World Shipping Council President and CEO John Butler, expressing concern about reports that ocean carriers are refusing the carriage of US exports.
Commissioners Carl W. Bentzel and Daniel B. Maffei noted that US exporters should not bear the entire burden of volume fluctuations and surges in this unusual year for the industry, and emphasized that “it is imperative that we strive for a balanced trade to keep our supply chain fully effective and efficient while maintaining vital export opportunities for the U.S. agriculture and manufacturing bases.”
As the letter explains, the trade fluctuations caused by COVID-19 have been exacerbated by shortages of longshore labor and drayage trucking, labor and space shortages in inland distribution warehousing, and the inadequate supplies of intermodal chassis and containers.
We recognize that operational changes to ocean carrier scheduling have been implemented, but the US export market should not be excluded. We appreciate the efforts some carriers have made, but there is more that should be done.
In responding to import cargo challenges, ocean carriers should not lose sight of their common carriage obligations to provide service to US exporters, the Commissioners stress.
We urge vigorous action, consistent within the bounds of existing law and regulation, to protect US exporters. As our ports experience unprecedented cargo surges, it is imperative that we strive for a balanced trade to keep our supply chain fully effective and efficient, while maintaining vital export opportunities for the U.S. agriculture and manufacturing bases.