A powerful coalition of truckers, agricultural exporters and freight forwarders have been lobbying hard for a suspension of demurrage fees in the heavily congested ports of Los Angeles / Long Beach and New York.

The alliance, led by the Maritime Transport Association, estimates that congestion caused an unreasonable USD 150 million in demurrage fees charged to its members by 2020.

In response to industry submissions on the matter, the FMC appointed Commissioner Rebecca Dye, who was designated for fact finding, to investigate ocean carriers operating in alliances and calling the Port of Long Beach, the Port of Los Angeles, or the Port of New York and New Jersey.

“Because of these stakeholder concerns, the Commission now has a clear and compelling responsibility to investigate the practices and regulations that are having an unprecedented negative impact on congestion and amplifying bottlenecks at these ports and other points in the Nation’s supply chain” the statement said. “This is a serious risk to the growth of the U.S. economy, job growth, and to our Nation’s competitive position in the world”.

The Commission’s extensive investigation will seek to determine whether carriers’ policies and practices related to container storage and storage, container return, and container handling capabilities for exported goods. USC 46 current regulation violates USC 41102 (c).

“The time has come to resolve the most serious impediments to port performance,” says Dye. “I’d like to thank my fellow Commissioners for their support of the Supplemental Order for Fact Finding 29, as I focus the investigation on the extreme conditions in the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York/New Jersey. The Order emphasizes I, as Fact Finding Officer, have all enforcement options at my disposal to address the crisis that exists in our major port gateways.”.

In particular, the investigation will focus on: “The potentially unreasonable practices of carriers and marine terminals regarding container return, export containers, and demurrage and detention charges in the Ports of Los Angeles Long Beach and New York/New Jersey present a serious risk to the ability of the United States to handle trade growth”, according to the FMC.