US Airforwarders back ocean shipping reform bill

By Damian Brett

Brandon Fried, AfA

The US Airforwarders Association (AfA) is backing the proposed Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 that it claims will address ongoing port disruption.

The association has signed a stakeholder letter that backs the implementation of the reform act as many of its members are full-service freight forwarders offering a variety of transportation options, including ocean.

The act proposes that carriers will need to certify and justify late fees for containers – known as detention and demurrage (D&D) charges – and prohibit carriers from “unreasonably declining” exports.

Box lines would also face new reporting requirements and the US Federal Maritime Commission would have greater oversight over carrier practice.

Brandon Fried, executive director, AfA, said: “Throughout the pandemic, our members have had to conduct frank conversations with their clients, and have been often forced to pass along exceedingly high detention and demurrage fees incurred as a result of inefficient maritime port operations.

“The proposed legislation would hopefully reduce fees to freight forwarders, their cargo owner clients, and truck vendors who serve our industry and customers.

“Our hope is that this legislation will force ocean carriers and marine terminals to provide more efficient handling of cargo while reducing the detention and demurrage costs often unfairly assessed, even when the cargo is not made available by those entities.”

The report was yesterday cleared by committee and now moves to the Senate for debate.

Shipping lines argue that the act does not address the cause of congestion and could make the situation worse if it has harder to implement D&D for late containers.

Fried added: “The pandemic taught us that global supply chains are not only interconnected, but require collaborative efforts between forwarders, airlines, ocean carriers, truckers, and railroads.

“As the Ukraine crisis accelerates, there is a significant need for increased logistical cooperation by all participants to make sure that essential medical supplies, food, and other vital materials reach those who need them most.

“Without a collaborative approach, the efficient distribution of these products would not be possible.”

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