Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 is passed by U.S. House of Representatives.

The United States House of Representatives signed off on the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, H.R. 4996, by a convincing 364-60 vote.

The bill was introduced by Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) in August, with the objective of making the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) “a more effective federal regulator.”

The bill’s next step is for it to be sent to the U.S. Senate to be considered.

Key components of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 include:

  • Establishing reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission;
  • Requiring 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;
  • Shifting the burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier;
  • Prohibiting ocean carriers from declining opportunities for U.S. exports unreasonably, as determined by the FMC in new required federal rulemaking; and
  • Requiring 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.

Conversely, John Butler, President and CEO of the World Shipping Council said it does not do enough to materially move the needle towards making meaningful improvements.

The World Shipping Council will continue to work with Congress to seek real solutions that further strengthen the ocean transportation system that has supported the U.S. economy throughout the pandemic.

(Ref. Logistics Management 12/09/2021)