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Ocean Carriers Urged to Carry U.S. Exports to Keep Balanced Trade

Reports that ocean carriers are refusing the carriage of U.S. exports have alarmed FMC Commissioners Carl W. Bentzel and Daniel B. Maffei.

Their growing concern led the FMC Commissioners to send a letter to World Shipping Council President and CEO John Butler urging the organization to take "vigorous action" to protect U.S. exporters.

"In responding to import cargo challenges, ocean carriers should not lose sight of their common carriage obligations to provide service to U.S. exporters," the Commissioners wrote.

"As our ports experience unprecedented cargo surges, it is imperative that we strive for a balanced trade to keep our supply chain fully effective and efficient, while maintaining vital export opportunities for the U.S. agriculture and manufacturing bases," they added.

Mr. Butler responded with a letter addressed to the Commissioners, wherein he assured that the carriers are taking action to remedy problems, according to Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor at

In particular, Mr. Butler related that "carriers are employing all available vessel capacity; repositioning vessels to those trades with the highest demand; speeding the return of excess empty containers and increasing cargo fluidity; purchasing, leasing, repairing, and deploying all available containers; and working with supply chain partners to reposition empty equipment for carriage of import and export cargoes."

However, Mr. Butler also noted that there are multiple factors outside of carriers’ control that negatively affect the free flow of cargo such as shortages of labor at marine terminals and inland distribution warehouses, importers’ extended use of containers and chassis at the warehouses for storage purposes, shortages of truck and rail capacity, and “no shows” by shippers with respect to vessel bookings and truck appointments at marine terminals.

World Shipping Council members operate approximately 90 percent of the global liner ship capacity, providing approximately 400 regularly scheduled services linking the continents of the world.

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