The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) granting extra powers to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to help restrain inflation and ease congestion across the supply chain.
The final approval came on 13 June with a large majority, 362-42, and the bill now awaits for President Biden’s signature to come into force.
The OSRA was first discussed to intervene on the disrupted global supply chain. Together with an increase in consumers’ demand, the COVID-19 pandemic massively contributed to boosting carriers’ operating profits.
Against this backdrop, the new legislation will allow the FMC to carry out enforcement measures and require ocean carriers to report on pricing and capacity information in a bid to regulate the market.
The FMC also announced new initiatives to provide enhanced assistance to US shippers – including the establishment of a new and permanent International Ocean Shipping Supply Chain Program.
President Biden praised the congressional passage of the OSRA.
“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,” he said.
“This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses — including farmers and ranchers. I look forward to signing it into law.”
The World Shipping Council (WSC) has criticised OSRA as it does not address the root causes of US congestion.
“We are appalled by the continued mischaracterisation of the industry by US government representatives and concerned about the disconnect between hard data and inflammatory rhetoric,” said their statement.
“The increased rate levels we have seen over the past years are a function of demand outstripping supply and landside congestion, exacerbated by pandemic-related disruption.
“Until the import congestion is remedied, export congestion will persist. America needs to make the same commitment and invest in its landside logistics infrastructure.”