27 March 2024


On 21st March, the US House of Representatives largely adopted a bill proposing new reforms to the US Shipping Act, giving more regulatory powers to the Federal Maritime Commission to crack down on potential technology and anticompetitive practices in shipping.

The bill, named the Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act of 2023, would, among other measures, require the FMC to investigate complaints concerning alleged anticompetitive practices by registered shipping exchanges, namely China’s Shanghai Shipping Exchange (SSE), which publishes the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. The FMC would look into potential advantages the SSE provides China, including the ability of the Chinese government to manipulate container freight markets to the disadvantage of U.S. businesses and consumers. The bill also cracks down on LOGINK, a logistics management platform operated by China, by banning its use in the U.S. by port operators and marine terminals that use federal grant money. To avoid potential future anticompetitive practices in this field, lawmakers ask the FMC to establish standards for price indexes for containerised ocean freight that are published by shipping exchanges.

The legislation would also consider private vessels operating in a non-market economy such as government-owned COSCO as “controlled carriers”, opening them up to greater scrutiny from the FMC, which is authorised to ensure carriers operate under market conditions.

Finally, the bill would establish a National Port Advisory Committee and a National Ocean Carrier Advisory Committee. Which would be charged with advising the FMC on policies relating to the competitiveness, reliability, and efficiency in the international ocean freight delivery system.

The bill needs to be adopted by the US Senate and then signed by the US President in order to become law.

Source: FreightWaves