Ports America has highlighted the importance of marine terminal operators (MTOs) in facilitating cargo movement, while arguing against the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) regulations.
Matthew Leech, President and CEO of Ports America, a member of the National Association of Waterfront Employers (NAWE), was among the leaders who testified on 29 March at the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Hearing.
Leech stated that unprecedented consumer demand following the COVID-19 pandemic led to a scarcity of capacity at marine terminal property. To address this, MTOs utilised available tools, including the imposition of terminal demurrage and dwell fees, to ensure the expedient retrieval of containers from terminal property and to avoid congestion issues.
Leech also referenced anti-trust immunity as a tool that enables MTOs to coordinate responses to supply chain congestion.
He testified that the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding demurrage and detention billing does not reflect the clear Congressional intent behind OSRA. He urged the Subcommittee to consider how proposed contracts are inconsistent with supply chain relationships and encouraged the FMC to avoid extending its scope to terminal demurrage.
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Leech finally expressed hope that Congress would consider amending the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Clean Ports Program to better reflect the realities MTOs face with obtaining zero and near-zero-emission cargo handling equipment.
Other maritime leaders who testified emphasized the importance of enabling MTOs to use all available tools to avoid supply chain congestion.
Roger Guenther, Executive Director of Port Houston, stated that it’s imperative that Congress and regulatory agencies prioritise programmes that enable MTOs to use all available tools to avoid congestion.
Griff Lynch, Executive Director of Georgia Ports Authority, added that marine terminal port operators have relied on every tool available, including demurrage and dwell fees, to ensure the efficient fluidity of cargo.
“The support of policy makers and regulatory agencies remains a critical component in ensuring we can continue to navigate the complex challenges facing our industry to avoid further congestion in the supply chain,” Lynch said.
The World Shipping Council (WSC) recently warned against a new US legislation (H.R. 1696) that could eliminate vessel sharing and undermine competitiveness and choice for liner shipping services.
The WSC believes that vessel sharing arrangements benefit the supply chain and should not be discarded.