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Coalition of Businesses, Trade Groups Endorse Ocean Shipping Reform Act

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2021 – A coalition of 152 companies and trade associations representing U.S. importers, exporters, transportation providers and other supply chain stakeholders today submitted a letter of support to Congress endorsing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021.


The bipartisan legislation was introduced last month by Congressmen John Garamendi and Dusty Johnson and would update the Shipping Act to recognize the significant changes to the international maritime transportation system of the past two decades. U.S. companies, their workers and consumers rely on a global maritime transportation system to support their businesses and move goods through the supply chain. The proposed legislation is essential to bring critically needed system improvements that have been further highlighted during the global pandemic.


Statements from policymakers and business stakeholders:

Congressman Dusty Johnson (R-SD): “Foreign ocean carriers aren’t playing fair, and American producers are paying the price. It’s time for updated rules of the road. That’s what our bill does.”


Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA): “Foreign businesses’ access to the American market and its consumers is a privilege, not a right. California’s agricultural exporters and other businesses are willing to pay to ensure that American-made products reach key markets in the Asia-Pacific. In turn, companies looking to offload foreign-made products at West Coast ports must provide opportunities for American exports. Even during a global pandemic, trade must be mutually beneficial, and that is exactly what our bipartisan bill ensures.”


David French, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, NRF: “The supply chain ecosystem is instrumental to American retailers’ ability to deliver products across the country to customers each day. Now is the time for the Shipping Act to be modernized to address a 21st century supply chain. We appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson to address these complex challenges so many businesses currently face and encourage Congress to move fastidiously on this crucial legislation.”

Jennifer Hedrick, Executive Director, National Industrial Transportation League: “The National Industrial Transportation League is grateful to Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson for their recognition of the challenges that maritime exporters and importers are experiencing, and for their commitment to seeking practical and workable solutions to the myriad issues affecting the entire maritime shipping network. NITL provides its full endorsement of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 and is pleased to see that it not only addresses current challenges, but also provides a framework for a more robust maritime supply chain for all stakeholders. NITL thanks Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson for their leadership in this area of significant importance to American businesses, consumers and the global economy.”

Peter Friedmann, Executive Director, Agriculture Transportation Coalition:

“Agriculture and forest products are our country’s largest ocean export. Yet, there is nothing we produce in ag/forest products that cannot be sourced elsewhere in the world. We are pleased that Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson and over 140 members of Congress recognize that unless U.S. agriculture exporters can deliver affordably and dependably, our foreign customers will shift to other global suppliers. The Agriculture Transportation Coalition and our members in all 50 states are committed to build broad House and Senate support for OSRA21, even as we seek and support Federal Maritime Commission intervention, and as we engage with ocean carriers, ports, terminals, labor and truckers to find and implement solutions.”


The coalition aims to continue building support for the bill and Congressional passage this year. The letter is accessible here.


About NITL:

The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) is a trade association whose mission is to advance the views of shippers on industrial freight transportation issues and advance their professional development.  NITL membership is comprised of companies engaged in the rail, maritime, and highway industrial freight transportation sectors who are committed to the competitive, efficient, and safe movement of goods across the United States and beyond.


NITL Urges Congress to Adopt Shipping Act Reforms in Response to Unprecedented Disruption to the Ocean Shipping Network

The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), the nation’s
oldest trade association representing industrial freight transportation shippers, is calling on Congress to modernize the Shipping Act of 1984 after months of congestion at U.S. seaports and unprecedented disruption to the ocean shipping network. Click here to view the Press Release.

COVID-19 Response and Resources

NITL is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and has created a list of important resources and updates on federal and state activity. Click here for more details.

NITL Joins Trade Group Letter on Highway Funding

The National Industrial Transportation League joined dozens of other trade groups to sign on to a letter to the Senate Finance Committee as it considers the surface transportation reauthorization bill. Among the letter’s requests are that the committee consider broad mechanisms for funding the bill, rather than putting the burden on the freight transportation industry. The full letter may be found here.

NITL Files Comment on FMC Proposed Interpretive Rule

The National Industrial Transportation League filed comments on October 31st in response to the proposed interpretive rule on port demurrage and detention practices issued by the Federal Maritime Commission.

In September, the FMC issued final recommendations in its Fact Finding Investigation, which included a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on use of an interpretive rule to address detention and demurrage practices.



NITL Responds to STB Report on Rate Case Reform

National Industrial Transportation League Executive Director Jennifer Hedrick issued the following statement today in response to the Surface Transportation Board’s release of a report on review processes and methodologies:

“The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) welcomes the release of the report from the STB’s Rate Reform Task Force. We are pleased to see that the report offers recommendations for modifying the current rate review methodologies and processes, including decreasing the costs and complexities of bringing a rate case before the board.

Members of NITL thank the STB staff for their work on the report and Chairman Begeman for her commitment to rate reform. We look forward to analyzing the report and providing further comment upon review.”

League Supports Push for Twin-33 Trailers

The National Industrial Transportation League has joined with 19 other organizations in co-signing a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging the Transportation Department to include a recommendation to change the national twin trailer standard from 28 feet to 33 feet as part of any infrastructure policy proposals it submits to Congress.

The letter notes that freight traffic has grown exponentially in recent years and is expected to continue doing so—DOT, in fact, is forecasting a 45 percent increase in freight volume by 2045. This increase will further stretch already-thin freight capacity and workforce levels and result in more highway congestion, greater fuel consumption, and higher freight transportation costs.

“The case for a policy change is clear,” states the letter. “Twin 33-foot trailers would immediately improve the efficiency and safety of truck operations across the nation’s congested freight network and benefit taxpayers and travelers. A new national standard for twin 33-foot trailers will add instant capacity while reducing congestion and improving the safety and efficiency of the roadways.”

The letter was submitted by Americans for Modern Transportation, a coalition of freight shippers, carriers, and interest groups that advocates for laws and regulations to streamline the delivery of products and consumer goods. NITL is a coalition member.

League Welcomes FMC Confirmations

The National Industrial Transportation League congratulates Louis Sola and Daniel Maffei on their confirmations to the Federal Maritime Commission, the principal U.S. agency responsible for regulating the international ocean transportation system for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and consumers.

We welcome Commissioner Sola in his new role at the FMC and are pleased to see the return of Commissioner Maffei to the agency. Their confirmations will allow the commission to more broadly consider issues that affect our nation’s shippers, including efficient port operations and reasonable terminal/carrier cargo handling practices.

NITL members look forward to working with Commissioners Sola and Maffei and other members of the FMC to ensure that our nation’s ocean freight transportation system remains efficient and strong.

NITL Thanks Senate for Confirming STB Nominees

This week, NITL joined with more than 75 other associations in sponsoring an ad in Politico thanking the U.S. Senate for confirming Patrick Fuchs and Martin Oberman to long-vacant seats on the Surface Transportation Board.

The STB has been operating for more than a year with just two of its five seats filled, hampering the agency’s ability to address ongoing freight rail issues and advance overdue regulatory reforms. In April 2018, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the nomination of Fuchs, a senior staff member of the committee; four months later, the committee also approved Oberman, a former chairman of Chicago’s commuter rail system, Metra. The full Senate approved Fuchs and Oberman on January 2 by voice vote.

The ad thanking the Senate was prepared by the Rail Customer Coalition, a group of associations representing manufacturing, farming, and other sectors of the economy. RCC members (including NITL) are major users of freight rail, accounting for more than half of the total volume of cargo shipped by rail and generating more than three quarters of the revenues collected by the railroads.

League Continues Push against Unfair Port Practices

NITL continues to play a leading role in addressing unfair detention and demurrage practices at U.S. ports, joining with several other trade associations in filing comments last week with the Federal Maritime Commission to assist the agency in its investigation into such practices.

The comments were filed by the Coalition for Fair Port Practices, a group of trade associations
(including NITL) that represent thousands of importers, exporters, drayage providers, freight forwarders, customs brokers, and third-party logistics providers. The coalition prepared the comments in response to an interim report released by the FMC on Sept. 4. That report, which was based on a six-month study conducted by FMC Commissioner Rebecca Dye, requested additional information about six priority areas, including (1) developing transparent, standardized language for demurrage and detention practices and (2) simplifying demurrage and detention billing and dispute resolution processes.

Demurrage is assessed on cargo left at a terminal beyond allotted free time. Detention charges are levied for late return of carriers’ containers. The fees are designed to discourage the use of terminals for long-term storage and to improve equipment utilization.

The FMC’s investigation of detention and demurrage practices was sparked by a petition filed in December 2016 by the Coalition for Unfair Port Practices. The petition asked the FMC to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to restrict the ability of steamship lines and marine terminal operators to impose detention and demurrage charges due to circumstances beyond shippers’ control. In response to the petition, the FMC launched a fact-finding investigation in April 2018 led by Commissioner Dye.

Commissioner Dye is expected to release her final report in December. The following month, she will attend NITL’s 2019 Transportation Summit, where she is scheduled to discuss the report’s findings.