As the federal and state governments continue to mobilize resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has launched its own initiative aimed at eliminating any problems hampering the efficiency of the country’s ocean freight delivery system, which it considers crucial to ensuring U.S. economic security. Specifically, on March 31, the FMC issued Fact Finding No. 29 Order (the “Order”), which authorizes FMC Commissioner Rebecca Dye to identify operational solutions to cargo delivery system challenges, including port congestion, related to COVID-19.
Pursuant to the Order, FMC Chairman Michael Khouri requests that Commissioner Dye stand up the Innovation Teams that were assembled initially pursuant to Fact Finding No. 28 to identify collaborative solutions to uncertainties and problems in the international supply chain. Commissioner Dye will serve as the Investigating Officer for “Fact Finding No. 29 International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement.”
As part of Fact Finding No. 29, Commissioner Dye will engage key executives to participate on the Innovation Teams, which will include representatives from all facets of the ocean cargo system, including public port authorities, marine terminal operators, beneficial cargo owners, ocean transportation intermediaries, liner shipping companies, drayage trucking companies, longshore labor representatives, rail officials, and chassis providers. Commissioner Dye will begin by interviewing port directors to determine what steps they can identify to mitigate critical supply chain challenges.
The Order recognizes that congestion and bottlenecks at ports and other points in the U.S. supply chain have become a serious risk to the growth of the U.S. economy and job growth, and to the competitive position of the United States in the world. The Order notes that “[r]ecent global events have only highlighted the economic urgency of responsive port and terminal operations to the effectiveness of the United States international freight delivery system.”
Commenting on the Order, Chairman Khouri highlighted Commissioner Dye’s valuable experience gained in Fact Finding No. 28 and said the current health crisis and need for a prompt response “points to the advisability of a standing ‘Advisory Board’ of stakeholders to work with the Commission on a continuing basis.” Chairman Khouri noted the idea of an Advisory Board at the FMC, which “would be positioned and ready to respond quickly to developing contingencies,” had been suggested by Senator Roger Wicker, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Please contact Venable's International Trade and Logistics Group if you have any questions regarding this FMC Fact Finding initiative and how you or your business can engage as a stakeholder.