24 June 2022


On 16 June, President Biden signed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) 2022 into law. Addressing the Congress on the OSRA President Biden noted: “In my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to address ocean carriers’ high prices and unfair practices because rising ocean shipping costs are a major contributing factor to increased costs for American families. During the pandemic, ocean carriers increased their prices by as much as 1,000%. And, too often, these ocean carriers are refusing to take American exports back to Asia, leaving with empty containers instead. That’s costing farmers and ranchers—and our economy—a lot of money. This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses—including farmers and ranchers. I look forward to signing it into law.”

The bill will provide the Federal Maritime Commission with greater authority and rulemaking ability over certain practices by international ocean shipping companies: It will allow the FMC to begin investigations of ocean common carriers’ business practices and apply enforcement measures. OSRA also requires ocean carriers to certify that D&D charges comply with federal regulations and shifts the burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of D&D charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier.  The bill also establishes new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges to improve the negotiation of service contracts, and in certain circumstances, to issue emergency orders that require shipping lines to share information with other stakeholders including shippers, railways and truck operators.

In response to the bill the National Retail Federation argued that US businesses were dependent on global maritime services. It said: “Shippers continue to face significant challenges, including unfair business practices by ocean carriers. Making OSRA federal law helps address longstanding systemic supply chain and port disruption issues that existed well before the pandemic by providing the Federal Maritime Commission the additional authority it needs.” The US shippers organisation, the NITL welcomed the bill noting that he National Industrial Transportation League, which supports US shippers, said OSRA would: “Modernise our federal shipping law to address disruption to US companies’ supply chains that depend on competitive and efficient international ocean transportation services.”