President Joe Biden is taking on the concentrated market power of ocean shipping companies, although officials at the agency overseeing the industry indicated they lack both the jurisdiction and, for now, any evidence of wrongdoing.
The White House said Biden will call on Congress at his State of the Union to address the immunity that shipping alliances have from antitrust scrutiny under current law. The Federal Maritime Commission will join with the Department of Justice in a new initiative announced Monday, to push for competition in ocean freight transportation.
“Many shippers really want us to do something about the rapid inflation of rates and decline in reliability in the ocean freight system,” FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei said Monday.
The FMC could take legal action against carriers “if the rapid inflation of rates is due to some kind of artificial limitation on the supply of cargo space,” Maffei said. “But even after we’ve increased the reporting requirements and deepened our analysis, so far we have found no evidence of anything like that that’s actionable and furthermore neither has the European Union or China.”
“We will continue to scrutinize and keep looking, but so far we’re seeing the opposite. We’re actually seeing that the carriers are adding capacity, and in fact increase number of ships, overall,” Maffei said.
Read more in an article from the American Journal of Transportation.