Container Lines Soften Stance on Rate Hikes as Congress Takes Up New Regulation



Greg Holt | S&P Global

Container shipping lines could hold back on further rate increases for shipments to North America after a bill was submitted to US Congress to strengthen the regulation of many international shipping practices, a shipowner source said on Aug. 11.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 was submitted in the House of Representatives on Aug. 10. If signed into law as written, the legislation would require shipping lines to certify that detention and demurrage charges comply with federal regulations and prohibit them from declining US export cargoes “unreasonably”, a determination to be made by the US Federal Maritime Commission, or FMC.

A representative for an Asia-based shipping line said the company has no plans to file for further general rate increases or new surcharges, while US regulators are acting on complains from US importers and exports.”We’ll have to wait and see what they do. It could be very difficult for carriers,” the shipowner source said. “The FMC is on the warpath right now. They weren’t when carriers were losing money, but now they sure are.”

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