Port of Los Angeles, California, October 20, 2021. Credit: ADLC / Shutterstock.com

New Bill Seeks to Curb Anticompetitive Behavior Among Ocean Carrier Alliances

Mike Schuler
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April 24, 2023

New bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that could help to curb anticompetitive behavior among ocean carrier alliances.

The “Ocean Shipping Competition Enforcement Act” (H.R.2710) was introduced by Representative John Garamendi (D-CA-08) and would allow the Federal Maritime Commission to block agreements among  ocean carriers or marine terminal operators that are determined to be unreasonably anticompetitive without needing to first obtain a federal court order.

The bill was proposed after Federal Maritime Commissioners Max Vekich and Carl W. Bentzel in December requested that the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure make the change in federal law. Garamendi, who serves on the committee, said that after reforming the country’s ocean shipping laws for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century with the passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA), Congress must ensure that the Federal Maritime Commission “can do its job and fully enforce the law.”

“The ocean shipping industry was the last transportation sector deregulated by Congress in 1984. Because of that, today the industry is now dominated by nine foreign-flagged ocean liners that openly collude under three carrier alliances handling some 80 percent of cargo,” said Garamendi.

The introduction of this new legislation follows the introduction of the bipartisan “Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act” (H.R.1836), which aims to crack down on the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to influence America’s supply chain, and the reintroduction of the “Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act” (H.R.1696), seeking to address unfair practices that harm American consumers and businesses, taking place last month.

Several organizations have endorsed the new bill, including the National Industrial Transportation League, the California Association of Port Authorities, the National Milk Producers Federation, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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