The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has launched its investigation into the practices of container shipping alliances and said most supply chain stakeholders are doing their best to cope with unprecedented pressure.
FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei said, “While most participants in the supply chain are doing their best to cope with the unprecedented import boom, there are reports of container ship lines and terminal operators unfairly taking advantage of the situation or denying service to exporters in a way that may violate the Shipping Act.”
Participants met virtually and in closed session on 7 April 2021 to discuss developments in the ongoing Fact Finding 29 investigation of challenges to the freight delivery system and possible Shipping Act violations, and to receive a briefing on the agency’s monitoring activities of ocean carrier alliances.
Commissioner Rebecca Dye, who serves as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, reported on developments related to her investigation into the behavior and practices of certain ocean carriers and marine terminal operators.
“We must get to the bottom of this situation ASAP and that’s why Commissioner Dye’s investigation is crucial,” Maffei said.
“Just yesterday, Commissioner Dye and I met with the leaders of two important House subcommittees.
“These issues clearly have their attention and companies providing ocean transportation services would be well served to voluntarily take steps that address these challenges.”
The investigation is taking place following complaints that the major ocean carrier alliances are breaching contracts with US exporters.
Carriers have allegedly refused to transport US agricultural goods and instead shipping empty containers to China, where demand is substantially higher.
US imports have caused severe delays at West Coast ports, which has had a knock-on effect across the supply chain, including high costs for retailors and consumers.
More than 100 members of the US Congress signed a letter in March 2021 calling on the FMC to investigate complaints into the practices of the ocean carrier alliances.
In the letter, the members of Congress said American producers and exporters have “grappled with widespread delays, bottlenecks and increasing fees” at the country’s major ports.