Shaheen Urges Federal Maritime Commission to Address Rising Costs of Overseas Shipping and Help NH Companies Stay afloat


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September 20, 2021

(Manchester, NH) – US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission last week urging the agency to deal with soaring costs of importing goods that threaten operations and the economic recovery of New Hampshire businesses. Shaheen noted the existential threat to small businesses that cannot afford container tariffs whose costs, in some cases, have risen by more than 1,000 percent, and called on the Commission to take action. to protect businesses from these unsustainable freight rates.

“On behalf of the small businesses in my state that depend on importing goods to serve their customers, I write with deep concern about the continued surge in container prices charged by foreign carriers,” Shaheen wrote. “I have spoken with a number of small business owners who have cited increases of over 1,000 percent in freight rates charged for shipping goods overseas …[posing] an existential threat to the many small businesses in my state that rely on reasonable carrier prices and sufficient container availability to reliably obtain the volume of product needed to maintain their operations.

“More needs to be done to counter the current boom in container prices and protect our businesses from this unsustainable pressure on their supply chainsshe continued. “The exorbitant cost of overseas shipments poses a significant threat to the country’s fragile economic recovery following the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It is imperative that appropriate measures be taken to deal with market conditions that are contributing to this increase in shipping costs. ”

The full text of his letter to FMC President Maffei is available here and below.

Dear President Maffei,

On behalf of the small businesses in my state that depend on importing goods to serve their customers, I write with deep concern about the continued surge in container prices charged by foreign carriers. As you well know, the significant increase in demand for imported goods has been compounded by a severe shortage of containers and stagnant growth in the capacity of shipping companies, resulting in high inflation of container prices for importers in the United States. my state and across the country. I have spoken with a number of small business owners who have cited increases of over 1,000 percent in freight rates charged for shipping goods overseas. Despite this surge in prices, the total scarcity of containers has prevented many companies from importing goods in adequate volumes to serve their customers. The combination of these factors poses an existential threat to the many small businesses in my state that depend on reasonable carrier prices and sufficient container availability to reliably obtain the volume of product needed to maintain their operations.

The Federal Maritime Commission is responsible for ensuring a competitive and reliable marine transportation supply system, a system that benefits our economy and protects American businesses from unfair and deceptive practices. I am deeply grateful to the Commission for working to fulfill this mission during the current crisis through the Fact Finding 29 investigation, as well as interagency coordination with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice to resolve competition concerns. in the shipping industry. I also believe that the establishment of the National Shippers Advisory Committee will provide shippers with much needed information on how best to alleviate this crisis. However, more needs to be done to counter the current surge in container prices and protect our businesses from this unsustainable pressure on their supply chains. To this end, I ask for answers to the following questions.

  1. What measures does the Commission have to help encourage capacity growth in the shipping industry?
  2. How is the Commission working to promote greater competition between shipping carriers?
  3. How are the Commission’s investigative initiatives coping with the current boom in container prices?
  4. How can the Commission streamline the sharing of information between carriers, shippers and other integrated links in foreign and national supply chains?

The exorbitant cost of overseas shipments poses a significant threat to the country’s fragile economic recovery following the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It is imperative that appropriate action be taken to address the market conditions that are contributing to this skyrocketing shipping costs. Thanks for your consideration.

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