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House Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Shipping

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved H.R. 4996, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, to fortify oversight of the shipping supply chain, according to The Hill.
What it does:  The bill includes a number of elements that stand to benefit U.S. shippers and may help ease some of the supply chain challenges facing manufacturers and shippers across the board. It is designed to beef up oversight of ocean carriers that move goods to and from U.S. ports in part through improved data collection and more diligent reporting practices, bars shipping companies from unreasonably declining cargo and prohibits the assessment of excess detention and demurrage fees to surface shippers. The legislation also mandates that shipping companies achieve “minimum service standards that meet the public interest.”
Why it matters: Problems with the supply chain have driven up delivery costs and caused major delays in the production cycle. An update is also long overdue; the last major adjustment for U.S. maritime shipping laws was more than two decades ago.
NAM’s role: Advanced by the NAM, the legislation’s bipartisan adoption represents the first concrete congressional action to address supply chain challenges this year. The NAM urged all members of the House to pass the bill. To move this legislation forward, the NAM highlighted the importance of reforms to increase port efficiency, reduce transportation costs and improve service standards.  

What we’re saying: “Passage of OSRA is a major first step in the congressional response to addressing exponential increases in shipping costs and clearing the backlog of container movement,” said NAM Director of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Ben Siegrist. “This bill provides long-overdue updates to the laws governing ocean shipping practices, establishes new standards for carrier and customer relationships and will provide relief for manufacturers in the U.S. who rely on an efficient and reliable system to move their products.”

Get in touch: The NAM Ports and Ocean Shipping Task Force was established to create engagement opportunities on these topics and address best practices during the current supply chain crisis. For more information, please contact Ben at [email protected] .  

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