One in the Win Column: Ocean Shipping Reform Act

GRAT BLOG One in the Win Column-Ocean Shipping Reform Act_HFA

Often when we talk about our government relations action team (GRAT) and our advocacy efforts, it is always about works in progress. We focus on those issues that are at hand, and that need a resolution of some sort. Finally, we have the chance to discuss something we worked on that passed in both houses of Congress and was signed by the President. We get to celebrate one in the win column. We’re talking about the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA), legislation born out of the horrific supply chain issues our sector suffers to this day. While it may not provide immediate relief, it puts in place many key elements to protect manufacturers and retailers that shift the balance of power from ocean carriers in the long term.

Four notable pieces of the new law ensure ocean carriers can no longer:

  • “unreasonably” refuse cargo space accommodations when available
  • assess new fees that don’t comply with current regulations
  • provide inaccurate invoices for demurrage or detention charges
    • those late fees for holding cargo or assets beyond a contracted time period.
  • Play favorites by giving some customers preference over others

The most significant change brought on by OSRA is the power given to the Federal Maritime Commission. The FMC now has a lot of latitude in regulating ocean shipping. They can define unfair practices, issue rules to prohibit them, and impose penalties or require refunds from violators. This will require more staff, so the new law boosts the FMC budget, starting with an injection of $32 million this year. The added monies will fund an Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services to provide support for resolving disputes, plus a website to file complaints.

HFA members who have felt powerless against the price hiking whims of ocean carriers now have an avenue for restitution. The FMC chairman told us that even before the ink has dried on this new law, they see a desire from ocean carriers to comply. The threat of oversight and punishment is proving to be persuasive.

There is more to the OSRA, and I suggest you review all of it. For now, however, I want to point out the importance and power of advocacy. Often we face an uphill climb in getting support from Washington, but with persistence and clarity of message it can happen. It just did.


To learn more about what HFA is doing to influence legislation that impacts our industry, click here.

Looking to grow your business? Look no further.
Becoming a member of the HFA has more benefits than we can list here. Click the button to learn more.
Trending In

HFA Solution Partners

Giga Cloud_HFA Partner

GigaCloud Technology is the leading online B2B solution for furniture merchandising. Our B2B marketplace provides

Profit Chain

Furniture Retailers have worked hard to build their businesses and they ought to be able

Fidelitone Logo

Established in 1929, FIDELITONE is a supply chain services provider. One of FIDELITONE’s core service

HFA_Partner_Isuzu Truck

Through over 300 dealers in North America, Isuzu provides a comprehensive line-up of low cab

JB Hunt Website Logo

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., a Fortune 500, S&P 500, and NASDAQ-100 company, provides safe,

Sign up for more!
From HFA events to the latest member news, get updates straight to your inbox.

Not an HFA member?

Don't miss out on all of our association benefits!