Who’s Who of Importers and Exporters Form New FMC Advisory Committee

retailers and shippers to advise Federal Maritime Commission
(file photo)

Published Sep 10, 2021 1:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

With the increasing din of complaints from both import and export shippers, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission announced a who’s who of American retailers, food companies, and manufacturers among the members of its newly formed National Shipper Advisory Committee. The goal of the committee is to provide the FMC with information, insight, and expertise about conditions in the ocean freight delivery system.

Speaking about the important role the committee with serve, FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei said, “I and the other Commissioners need rapid access to the perspectives of importers and exporters on the ground dealing with the realities of ocean shipping every day.? We also need them to meet and help guide our efforts and those outside the FMC to improve the system and make it easier, fairer, and more efficient to American shippers.”

Commissioner Rebecca Dye, who has been heading up the fact-finding efforts for the FMC around the United States, recommended the formation of the committee to Congress as a tool to further the mission of the FMC. The structure of the committee was confirmed in June with the objective of advising the commission and providing information from the perspective of shippers working with the markets. The mandate for the committee includes providing recommendations on existing and proposed FMC actions, suggesting new policies or regulations, and being available for consultation with the commissioners.

The first volunteer members who will sit on the committee include major retailers Walmart, Target, Wayfair, Ikea, and Amazon, along with auto imports and the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association representing the imports. DuPont, Cargill, Ocean Spray Cranberries, and Tyson Foods are among the exports. The committee consists of 24 members evenly divided between imports and exporters, each serving a three-year term. 

The inauguration of the new committee is part o a series of high visibility activities the FMC has recently highlighted in its response to the challenges in the shipping market. Earlier this week, Chairman Maffei meet with representatives from the European Union and the People’s Republic of China for a meeting of the Global Regulatory Summit to discuss competition issues related to the shipping industry.

“The performance of ocean carriers in meeting historic demand for their services and the unusually high costs to move ocean containers are of interest and concern to regulators, legislators, and the public globally,” said Chairman Maffei. “The Global Regulatory Summit provided key competition authorities responsible for the oversight of the container shipping industry the opportunity to share information about what their respective monitoring and enforcement regimes are observing in the marketplace and compare conclusions about carrier behavior.”

The issues discussed by the global regulators addressed the impact of the pandemic on supply and demand and the resulting bottlenecks and disruptions to global supply chains. They also discussed possible actions that could be taken to improve the flow of goods and alleviate the problems of shippers. 

Earlier this year, the FMC also announced a new audit program to look at the compliance and action of carriers. The program is initially focusing on the nine largest ocean carriers measuring compliance with the FMC’s rules as it applies to detention and demurrage practices.