Many US exporters, importers, forwarders and carriers seem to be united in their effort to oppose the Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act (OSAEA), before it gains momentum in congress.

The OSAEA bill was put forward early last year, when disruption and excessive freight rates were crippling global supply chains. The bill proposes to repeal antitrust exemptions for carriers, but also attempts to prevent them from entering into vessel-sharing agreements (VSAs).

One Congressman sponsoring the bill said last week “For far too long, foreign shipping monopolies have manipulated the ocean shipping industry and employed unfair trade practices, hurting American exporters and consumers.”

Another added: “Foreign-flagged cargo vessels need to understand that access to the American market and its consumers is a privilege, not a right”.

The principle of an act that protects importers and exporters against the rate hikes that we witnessed during and immediately after the pandemic is not in dispute. However, trying to restrict carriers from sharing vessels has brought about widespread concern that this will only increase costs.

As things stand, all of the world’s major steamship lines are part of carrier alliances that share vessels and therefore operating costs. Although the 2M Alliance is due to disband by 2025, which will probably leave Maersk and MSC as standalone carriers.

The bill is believed to be very much in the early stages still, so it may not come to fruition in its current format. Westbound are monitoring developments closely.

If you have any questions regarding the above, then Westbound are here to help. So, please do not hesitate to contact us.