Two industry groups are calling for tweaks to federal legislation passed in June in an effort to clear cargo delays at backlogged container ports, complaining that supply chain stakeholders need to share more data to allow them to meet the law’s requirements.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) empowers the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to block “unfair business practices” by ocean carriers. The law was a response to complaints from shippers and manufacturers that maritime container carriers were charging exorbitant freight rates, declining booking requests, and assessing high freight and demurrage/detention charges.
However, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is now calling for an emergency order requiring common carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) to share key information with shippers, truckers, and railroads. RILA made its statement in response to a request for comments by the FMC on whether supply chain congestion has created conditions warranting the issuance of such an emergency order.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) provides the FMC with an important tool to address congestion at the nation’s ports. By authorizing the FMC to issue an emergency order… it has the opportunity to alleviate current and long-term constraints that hamper the efficient operation of our supply chain infrastructure,” RILA said in a letter. “It has long been recognized that inadequate information sharing is a systemic issue affecting the operations of U.S. ports, and negatively impacts the global supply chain, impeding retailers’ ability to move freight and goods efficiently.”
Specifically, RILA is calling for better communication on: total numbers and dwell times (age) for loaded and empty containers at terminals, appointment times and availability, empty container return, and access to containers.
RILA’s position echoed a similar request from Trade Tech, an Issaquah, Washington-based provider of supply chain management solutions for the international logistics industry.
According to Trade Tech, non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) are now in a pinch because OSRA requires them and/or the ocean carriers to determine a fair assessment of demurrage and detention (D&D) charges. However, NVOCCs often don’t have access to a critical datum called the “container availability date,” which may differ from the time a container is discharged from a vessel.
“NVOCCs are having difficulty providing this information to customers on their invoices because ocean carriers and/or terminals so far have been unwilling, or unable, to provide this critical piece of information to them. There currently is no interface between the parties that conveys this cargo availability information,” Trade Tech President Bryn Heimbeck said in a release.
As a solution, the company proposes that the FMC delay full implementation of the regulation and allow a “grace period” for the industry to adapt to the new reporting requirement. Otherwise, the FMC should issue a temporary ruling that D&D be paid on a credit basis so that cargo is not withheld for pick up, Trade Tech said.