Demurrage: a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship in respect of failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed.
CRS Summary of S.3580
This bill revises requirements governing ocean shipping to increase the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through an ocean transportation system that is competitive, efficient, and economical. For example, the bill requires the FMC to (1) investigate complaints about detention and demurrage charges (i.e., late fees) charged by common ocean carriers, (2) determine whether those charges are reasonable, and (3) order refunds for unreasonable charges. It also prohibits common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, or ocean transportation intermediaries from unreasonably refusing cargo space when available or resorting to other unfair or unjustly discriminatory methods.
Rep. Tenney explains her vote
June 14, 2022
I voted “Yes” on S. 3580, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. As ports across the country become congested with imported goods as a result of Biden’s supply chain crisis, agriculture exports have been hit hard with increased costs and transportation challenges. This has impacted many of our upstate New York farmers, who are now finding it more difficult than ever to access markets abroad. This legislation will prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably denying U.S. exports, as monitored and determined by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). It will also require ocean carriers to report to the FMC how many empty containers they are transporting back to foreign ports. All told, this bill should help American farmers and reduce our $106 billion per month trade deficit by ensuring empty cargo containers leaving U.S. ports are filled with U.S. goods that benefit our small businesses and family farms. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 369-42.
I don’t know why common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, or ocean transportation intermediaries would unreasonably refuse cargo space when available as this would not be in their interest. I don’t see how empty containers leaving U.S. ports would be filled with goods which may not exist, are not waiting for shipment, or can’t be sold overseas. S.3580 as explained in the CRS summary may be worthwhile; S.3580 as explained by Rep. Tenney is silly.
On Monday the House passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 to hamper unfair business practices among shipping carriers. The measure passed the Senate in March. Although the bills were introduced by Democrats, the votes that passed them were bipartisan, reflecting, perhaps, that the nine shipping companies that dominate the world market are multinational rather than domestic. According to Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), shippers have raised prices on U.S. businesses and consumers by more than 1000% on goods coming from Asia, enabling them to make $190 billion in profits last year, a sevenfold increase in one year. This bill, he said, “will help crush inflation and protect American jobs.” Biden has praised the bill and promises to sign it. Heather Cox Richardson, June 14
OK,Now how about a bill to protect trucker and enforce demurrage against truckers being delayed at shippers and receivers?
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Thanks for your comment, Ken; I agree. I can’t find a bill in Congress addressing this issue.