Klobuchar and Garamendi joined President Biden at White House signing ceremony

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will level the playing field for American exporters by making it harder for foreign-owned ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse goods ready to export at ports

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) and Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) announced that the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, their bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help fix supply chains and ease shipping backlogs has been signed into law. Klobuchar, Garamendi, and Johnson joined President Biden, House and Senate cosponsors, and key stakeholders for the White House signing ceremony earlier this afternoon.

“Congestion at ports and increased shipping costs pose unique challenges for U.S. exporters, who have seen the price of shipping containers increase four-fold in just two years, raising costs for consumers and hurting our businesses. Meanwhile, ocean carriers that are mostly foreign-owned have reported record profits,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will level the playing field for manufacturers, farmers, and consumers – a major win as we work to strengthen our nation’s supply chain. I was proud to join President Biden at the White House for the signing ceremony, as we move one step closer to helping American exporters get their goods to market in a timely manner for a fair price.”

“The common-sense improvements made by this bill will provide the FMC with the tools necessary to address unreasonable practices by ocean carriers and hold them accountable for any bad-faith efforts that disenfranchise American producers, including those throughout South Dakota, who feed the world,” said Thune. “Especially as Americans continue to grapple with record-high inflation, this legislation would also benefit consumers by promoting the efficiency of the supply chain.”

“Today is the culmination of over a year of hard work to crack down on longstanding inequities for American exporters and shippers in the international ocean shipping industry. It shows that Republicans and Democrats can come together to solve everyday problems. Every American family and small business has faced shortages and rising prices during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now Putin’s war in Ukraine. Our bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act will protect American businesses and consumers from unfair trade practices and price gouging by foreign-flagged ocean liners and address our nation’s longstanding trade imbalance with countries like China. I am thrilled to join President Biden, Senators Klobuchar and Thune, and Representative Johnson to sign this critically important bill into law, and I thank them all for their work to get this done for working families and American exporters,” said Garamendi.

“Getting the Ocean Shipping Reform Act across the finish line has been a team effort over the last year to address our supply chain issues,” said Johnson. “If foreign ocean carriers want to utilize American ports, they will have to play by our rules. Agriculture producers lost a significant amount of revenue because of unfair practices by foreign ocean shippers – damaging the American economy and supply chain – our bill puts an end to that.”

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will level the playing field for American exporters by making it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse goods ready to export at ports.

The legislation earned the endorsement of the American Association of Port Authorities, which represents more than 130 port authorities across North and South America, including the Port of Duluth-Superior. The bill is also endorsed by more than 300 organizations including the Association of Port Authorities, the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Association, the California Association of Port Authorities,  the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

In addition to Klobuchar and Thune, the legislation was cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Todd Young (R-IN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tina Smith (D-MN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Mike Braun (R-IN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Boozman (R-AR), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO).

The legislation, cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 96 representatives, passed the House of Representatives on Monday by a strong bipartisan vote of 369-42. 

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will:

  • Require ocean carriers  to certify that late fees —known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges—comply with federal regulations or face penalties;
  • Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier;
  • Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing cargo space accommodations for U.S. exports and from discriminating against U.S. exporters;
  • Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and 20-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States;
  • Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and
  • Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges.

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