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President Biden Inks Bipartisan Bill To Reform Ocean Shipping Industry

President Biden Inks Bipartisan Bill To Reform Ocean Shipping Industry

 

US President Joe Biden has signed into law a bipartisan bill that aims to reign in the container shipping industry in a bid to ease supply chain challenges at ports and lower costs of goods.

Biden signed the legislation days after it cleared the House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, telling an audience at the White House that the measure would help ease inflation.

The signed legislation is meant to lower the cost of shipping goods across oceans, a move the White House says will help ease logistical costs for retailers that have remained high since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and helped fuel record inflation.

“I’ve said many times, tackling inflation is my number one priority,” Mr Biden said in remarks from the State Dining Room, reports Washington DC’s The Hill.

“It’s much too high here, and this bill is going to help bring down inflation at least marginally for farmers and businesses all across America,” the president said.

The bill, known as the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, requires the Federal Maritime Commission to investigate complaints about late fees charged by ocean carriers and terminals. It also bars them from unreasonably refusing cargo space for US shipments.

The president also has stressed that a concentration of corporate shipping power in the hands of a few large companies has fed higher shipping costs in ways that hurt businesses and exacerbate problems with inflation.

“These carriers made US$190 billion in profit in 2021, seven times higher than the year before,” Mr Biden said. “The cost got passed on, as you might guess, directly to consumers, sticking it to American families and businesses because they could.”

The container shipping industry is seen as a critical bottleneck of global supply chains that has contributed to sky-high inflation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Biden has focused on moving goods faster out of US ports as a way to ease supply chain woes and bring down prices of goods.

The White House touted the bill as a measure that would help lower costs for retailers, farmers and consumers. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted in a briefing that Mr Biden called on Congress to address the ocean carrier industry’s unfair practices and high prices during his State of the Union address earlier this year.

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