Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Daniel Maffei joined Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a webinar to discuss the challenges facing the maritime industry.
Maffei noted that the CMF has a “fairly limited set of tools” that it can use to help exporters with the high prices they have to pay for containers. For exporters, he said, it’s a very frustrating time: “The cost of a container has increased dramatically and the ability to get equipment has decreased dramatically.”
In addition to Fact Finding Initiative # 29 led by Commissioner Rebecca Dye – originally a survey to identify operational solutions to the challenges of the cargo delivery system related to Covid-19, later expanded to include a survey of ocean carriers operating in alliances and calling the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey – which Maffei described as a “full enforcement investigation,” Maffei wants the CMF to do more for exporters . He said he planned to recommend three points to the Commission:
- Have a contact person at the CMF, perhaps someone from the organization’s Consumer Response Division, to help exporters understand “what the law is and what, if anything, is wrong. done on the other side ”.
- Continuing, strengthening law enforcement where exporters are denied containers, “where something unreasonable is happening.”
- To review the CMF’s D&D rules: are there areas that can be strengthened, especially for exporters?
On infrastructure, Maffei said the country’s maritime system “needs a lot” and the need has been around for a long time. As the country’s gateways for global trade, he said, ports shouldn’t have to chomp to get access to the funds they need. To increase exports, infrastructure issues need to be addressed – for example, the high cost of moving containers from inland farmland to ports and on ships is linked to infrastructure challenges. He thinks US ports are doing very well, given the level of support they get.
An infrastructure to improve the flow of information would be good, he noted, for the entire supply chain system, especially thanks to the import boom the country experienced during the pandemic. .
On the same topic, Seroka said, “There are a lot of containers, they just aren’t in the right place.”
A national port information exchange system would go a long way to alleviating this problem, he said. Maffei agreed and noted, “It’s definitely not a Democratic thing, as Rebecca Dye has been advocating for it for at least a decade now.” (Dye is a Republican-appointed commissioner.) Maffei also explained that in the complex world trade system, container availability is only part of the problem today.
Regarding D&D fees, Maffei said the role of the CMF is to provide deterrents, mainly fines, at unreasonably high costs. He noted that the deterrent effect is difficult to measure, but he has a “valid hope” that things will improve.