Ocean carriers asked to ‘exercise restraint’ on container charges – FreightWaves

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA), which globally represents an industry of about 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, is urging ocean carriers to review their container demurrage and detention charges to ensure that they are not unreasonably applied during the coronavirus pandemic.

Demurrage pertains to the time an import container sits in a container terminal, with carriers responsible for collecting penalties on behalf of the marine terminals, while detention relates to shippers holding containers for too long outside the marine terminals.

The purpose of these charges, which generally range from $150 to $350 per container per day in the U.S., is to incentivize a quick turnaround of container equipment by shippers to the carriers.

“FIATA calls upon shipping lines and terminals to exercise restraint in their demurrage and detention charges and practices, taking into consideration the unprecedented difficulties faced by the freight forwarding industry and other stakeholders amid disruptions in the supply chain,” the Switzerland-based organization said in a Wednesday statement.

FIATA praised the ocean carrier industry for waiving certain demurrage and detention charges during the extended Chinese New Year holiday due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China.

However, in other parts of the world, shippers and their transportation intermediaries are now finding it increasingly difficult to retrieve and drop off containers at marine terminals without incurring these charges due to unscheduled COVID-19-related terminal slowdowns or temporary closures.

The reasonable assessment of demurrage and detention charges, even before the spread of COVID-19, was a hot-button issue for shippers, forwarders and their drayage service providers.

“There is no logic in enforcing a charge which is supposed to motivate the importer to pick up, or return, a container in a timely manner if the port or terminal is not able to comply with the delivery request,” said Jens Roemer, FIATA’s Working Group Sea chairman, in a statement last November.

With myriad government lockdowns and restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19, forwarders are doing their best to quickly load and unload containers to limit detention and demurrage charges from the ocean carriers and marine terminals, FIATA said.

“Our agriculture and forest products exporters are still facing an onslaught of demurrage and detention charges, even with all the blank sailings by the carriers,” said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), based in Washington. “Terminals are closed or have limited hours, carriers come in off-schedule, state governments are restricting ‘non-essential’ cargo supply chains, often leading to inability to meet free-time requirements.”

FIATA said it supports the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) recently proposed rule, which provides guidance under the Shipping Act on what the agency will consider to be fair and reasonable practices for ocean carriers and marine terminals to assess demurrage and detention fees on shippers.

In a March 16 letter, 67 American shipper groups urged the FMC to finalize the rule, which they say is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FMC said last Thursday it plans to finalize the rule soon.

Friedmann, whose association was one of the signatories to the letter, said “it’s unconscionable that it has taken the commission six months to review the overwhelmingly supportive comments on the proposed rule.”

He told American Shipper the AgTC and other associations had recently asked the White House to intervene and generate some urgency at the FMC to finalize the demurrage and detention practices rule.

No COVID-19 found on CMA CGM Marco Polo – FreightWaves

CMA CGM said Wednesday that no crew members on board the Marco Polo are infected with the coronavirus.

The French carrier said earlier in the week that one crew member was sick and had been isolated until he could be tested for COVID-19. The container ship was off the coast of Spain at the time.

“There is no COVID-19 case on the CMA CGM Marco Polo, confirmed by sanitation authorities,” CMA CGM told American Shipper on Wednesday.

CMA CGM said it had taken all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of its employees on land and at sea.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been no COVID-19 case in the entire CMA CGM fleet,” it said.

CMA CGM has just over 500 vessels with a combined capacity of about 2.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units.

Only one positive case of COVID-19 on board a container ship has been confirmed.

A.P. Møller-Mærsk said Monday that crew members from the Gjertrud Maersk had been hospitalized in Ningbo, China. One crew member tested positive for COVID-19. Four others were classified as “asymptomatic infected individuals.”

BMW Group uses blockchain to improve auto parts traceability – FreightWaves

BMW Group has announced that it will adopt blockchain to improve transparency across its global supply chain, specifically targeted at the parts and raw materials procurement segment. 

A blockchain network, in essence, is a decentralized and immutable ledger that helps store information effectively. It does this by making every stakeholder within the network equally responsible as ‘custodians of the data’ that flows within it. Enabling collective liability fosters transparency within the ecosystem, as every stakeholder in the chain is now privy to all the information that flows through the network. 

For a massive entity like BMW, using blockchain can help optimize its operations and increase traceability in its supply chain, while also making sure the data being shared is tamper-proof. “In 2019, we conducted a successful pilot project to purchase front lights. This year, we want to expand the project to a large number of other suppliers,” said Andreas Wendt, a member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for the purchasing and supplier network.

Understanding the provenance of components is vital for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The occurrence of faulty auto parts on a vehicle is disastrous for the company’s bottom line and reputation, because it can cause accidents and will lead to a mass recall – complicating the relationship between owners and the OEM. 

Until recently, the usual practice was for OEMs and their suppliers to store and manage their data in their separate IT systems. This often led stakeholders in the auto supply chain to work in silos, lacking any forms of consistent communication between each other. 

BMW is working to make the environment more collaborative by initiating the PartChain project, which will ensure “seamless traceability of components and provide immediate data transparency in complex supply chains for all partners involved going forward.” PartChain works on blockchain technology and will enable tamper-proof and consistently verifiable collection and transaction of data in BMW’s supply chain. 

The 2019 parts tracking via blockchain was a start; it involved BMW’s plants in Spartanburg, South Carolina and Dingolfing, Germany, as well as three locations of its supplier, Automotive Lighting. BMW now plans to build on to the pilot, eventually reaching a point where the company can have complete traceability of critical raw materials – from mines to smelters. Right now, however, the platform will be rolled out to about 10 suppliers.

“This move is designed to take the digitalization of purchasing at the BMW Group to the next level. Our vision is to create an open platform that will allow data within supply chains to be exchanged and shared safely and anonymized across the industry,” said Wendt. 

BMW had also initiated a consortium called the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) in 2018, which brings together 120 companies from the automotive, mobility and technology sectors. MOBI engages all the different stakeholders within the consortium to create common standards and control models needed for blockchain to break through in the mobility sector. “We want to share our PartChain approach with the initiative and invite interested companies to join the initiative,” said Wendt.

Maritime industry bands together to weather supply chain storm – FreightWaves

Steve Blust said he doesn’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict when U.S. supply chain flows will return to normal in a post-coronavirus world.

“I’m still trying to buy one on Amazon,” joked Blust, president of the Containerization & Intermodal Institute (CII) and the International Institute of Container Lessors (IICL) and a former chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). 

Steve Blust has been heartened to see people come together to fight COVID-19. (Photo: BSYA)

Blust turned serious just as quickly as he tossed out a supply chain joke.

“While I do not have a crystal ball to foresee when the adverse impact on our lives and businesses from COVID-19 will diminish, I am optimistic that social and economic recoveries will proceed as expeditiously as possible as a result of the great efforts by individuals and organizations that are working together within their communities and industries in meeting the challenges that we face today and in the future,” he told American Shipper.

As president of CII, a nonprofit headquartered in Cranford, New Jersey, that promotes international trade and the intermodal container transportation community, and IICL, a Washington-based trade association for the marine container leasing and chassis provider industry, Blust has been on many calls about the coronavirus pandemic over the past several weeks.

“There are a number of group calls that are going on within the industry and public-private approaches that have been quite informative and helpful, and people are really utilizing those to make a difference. They really have been extremely useful and productive,” he said.

Blust provided as an example a call with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency during which a first responder said his organization was not on a priority list for face masks.

“This was early on, like March 4. He raised the issue and one of the parties on the phone was from Health and Human Services and says thanks, they’ve got it noted. The next day FEMA had a conference call with the NBEOC, the National Business Emergency Operations Center. The HHS official was speaking and she said, ‘We’ve added first responders to the priority list for the face masks,’” Blust said. “It wasn’t just a nod, ‘Yeah, you need them.’ It was an immediate action.

“It was gratifying to see something like that carried through and that people responded immediately to it to make sure that those individuals stayed safe as well. It’s people working together to try and keep us as safe as possible,” he said. 

Blust has seen this banding together before, namely after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, while he was chairman of the FMC.

“Some of the things I saw were really heartwarming,” he said, giving Mississippi River pilots as an example. “I used to listen in on their calls. They would have daily phone calls to walk through getting ships in and out of the ports after they had lost all the navigation buoys. They would work to get ships that were in trouble moving. There was a cruise ship stuck in New Orleans that needed fresh water. One person identified a possible source of fresh water in a barge and they were able to get it moved down, get it on the ship and get the ship moving, rather than having all the people stranded there.”

Blust has been heartened to see people come together now to fight the spread of COVID-19. “Priorities have changed,” he said.

“You’re seeing today people who are willing to dedicate themselves to helping other people. That seems to be a common thread all of the way through any of these issues that arise — people working together to find ways to minimize the impact for the greater good,” he said. 

There are containers on the horizon.

“Things are starting to pick up again in Asia. The containers are moving again out of the container depots so there’s a demand over there. Manufacturing of containers has resumed. I don’t know if it’s back to normal, but it has resumed. It is starting to come back on that side and ships are loading,” Blust said.

“People are starting to look a little farther ahead now,” he said. “Of course the big question is, as the cargo starts to move again, will the virus have moved on to make room for the relief to come in after?. We don’t know what the virus is thinking, so it’s really hard to tell. That level of uncertainty is something everybody’s trying to get a little more clarity on so they can see a path to more normalcy.”

It is a certainty that as manufacturing ramps up in China, exports will pick up again.

“Now you’ve got the issues of when will the Western countries — U.S. and Europe — be ready to receive the cargo,” Blust said. “The ports at one point were extremely full with the equipment from prior voyages being returned to the ports after they were used to move the cargo to their destinations. Apparently some of the ocean carriers have come in and swept empties off the marine terminals and opened up some room so that the loaded ships coming in from Asia and other places will have room to actually work.”

Reducing the effects of supply chain disruption again depends on people dedicated to the cause, according to Blust.

“The chassis folks are working with the motor carriers and the ocean carriers to try and minimize the impact of this disruption, and the leasing companies are doing the same thing. It takes a lot of working with partners for all of us to get through this. I think that’s one of the strong suits of the maritime industry. Over the years, over the decades, the maritime industry has faced a lot of challenges and a variety of challenges,” he said.

Damco meets pandemic logistics challenge head-on – FreightWaves

Damco’s new head of the Americas, Mike Meierkort, has been on the job for only a week, and his logistics mettle is already being put to the test.

Mike Meierkort, head of Americas, Damco
[Photo Credit: Damco]

Meierkort stepped into his new role as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spread across the U.S. and quickly scrambled many shippers’ international supply chains. But he had confidence in the business resiliency program that Damco had already put in place to deal with such a disruption.

Although a COVID-19 pandemic was not on anyone’s radar, Damco spent the past 18 months developing a business resiliency platform to continue optimally managing its operations and services during manmade and natural disasters anywhere in the world.

“No one has a playbook for something like the pandemic,” Meierkort told American Shipper in a telephone interview from his home office in Chicago on Thursday. “Our business resiliency program was the closest thing to having a playbook, which made us better prepared for this disruption.”

Part of that program included having the procedures and information technology in place to allow employees to continue their jobs no matter the situation.

“We created processes and communications, as well as the tools to assess risk, to proactively manage disruptions internally and externally with our customers,” Meierkort said. “We were ready when we sent our people home to work.”

Damco’s business resiliency platform also allows it to quickly roll out logistics services whenever and wherever to help mitigate shippers’ risk during emergencies.

Damco CEO Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud also expressed confidence that Meierkort, a 32-year logistics industry veteran, could keep the company’s operations and logistics services steady during the pandemic. Prior to joining Damco, he held senior management roles at Livingston International, and before that with Panalpina and Vanguard Logistics.

Two weeks ago, Damco began a nationwide rollout of its Cargo Rescue Program, in partnership with IMS Transport. The program includes two container logistics service offerings to help ease congestion at U.S. ports of entry due to the pandemic.

Under the Cargo Rescue Program’s “Park and Save” offering, Damco will pull U.S. Customs-cleared import containers from marine terminals and store them on their chassis at a secure location until the customer is ready to receive them.

Meierkort said this service saves shippers from having to keep their containers at the marine terminals, which over time results in costly detention charges.

Damco took its Park and Save offering a step further by providing shippers a “Strip and Store” service, in which freight is removed from containers and stored in a warehouse until it’s ready for delivery by truck to the customer. Container and chassis demurrage fees are eliminated, since the equipment can be rapidly returned to the ocean carriers and marine terminals, Meierkort said.

“This service will be a benefit anywhere you experience a major chokepoint, be it a West Coast or East Coast marine terminal, or an interior railhead like Chicago,” he said. “We’re helping those ecosystems by pulling those containers out.”

Meierkort said Damco’s Cargo Rescue Program is just beginning to gain notice from shippers, particularly in the consumer retail and lifestyle space.

“We have enough space through our warehouses and those of our strategic partners to accommodate this service for the long haul,” he said.

In recent weeks, Damco also stepped up its use of charters to airlift much-needed medical supplies from China to the U.S.

“Last week we oversaw an air shipment of 7.8 million face masks from Shanghai to Los Angeles,” Meierkort said. “We have several more air shipments like this in the works.”

In 2018, Damco’s supply chain business became part of A.P. Moller-Maersk (OTSMKTS: AMKBY), but it remains a separate operating entity with its own brand.

“Today, we’re in every major market, seaport and airport in the world,” Meierkort said. “We know how to deal with challenging times like this.”

No COVID-19 found on CMA CGM Marco Polo – FreightWaves

CMA CGM said Wednesday that no crew members on board the Marco Polo are infected with the coronavirus.

The French carrier said earlier in the week that one crew member was sick and had been isolated until he could be tested for COVID-19. The container ship was off the coast of Spain at the time.

“There is no COVID-19 case on the CMA CGM Marco Polo, confirmed by sanitation authorities,” CMA CGM told American Shipper on Wednesday.

CMA CGM said it had taken all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of its employees on land and at sea.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been no COVID-19 case in the entire CMA CGM fleet,” it said.

CMA CGM has just over 500 vessels with a combined capacity of about 2.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units.

Only one positive case of COVID-19 on board a container ship has been confirmed.

A.P. Møller-Mærsk said Monday that crew members from the Gjertrud Maersk had been hospitalized in Ningbo, China. One crew member tested positive for COVID-19. Four others were classified as “asymptomatic infected individuals.”

BMW Group uses blockchain to improve auto parts traceability – FreightWaves

BMW Group has announced that it will adopt blockchain to improve transparency across its global supply chain, specifically targeted at the parts and raw materials procurement segment. 

A blockchain network, in essence, is a decentralized and immutable ledger that helps store information effectively. It does this by making every stakeholder within the network equally responsible as ‘custodians of the data’ that flows within it. Enabling collective liability fosters transparency within the ecosystem, as every stakeholder in the chain is now privy to all the information that flows through the network. 

For a massive entity like BMW, using blockchain can help optimize its operations and increase traceability in its supply chain, while also making sure the data being shared is tamper-proof. “In 2019, we conducted a successful pilot project to purchase front lights. This year, we want to expand the project to a large number of other suppliers,” said Andreas Wendt, a member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for the purchasing and supplier network.

Understanding the provenance of components is vital for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The occurrence of faulty auto parts on a vehicle is disastrous for the company’s bottom line and reputation, because it can cause accidents and will lead to a mass recall – complicating the relationship between owners and the OEM. 

Until recently, the usual practice was for OEMs and their suppliers to store and manage their data in their separate IT systems. This often led stakeholders in the auto supply chain to work in silos, lacking any forms of consistent communication between each other. 

BMW is working to make the environment more collaborative by initiating the PartChain project, which will ensure “seamless traceability of components and provide immediate data transparency in complex supply chains for all partners involved going forward.” PartChain works on blockchain technology and will enable tamper-proof and consistently verifiable collection and transaction of data in BMW’s supply chain. 

The 2019 parts tracking via blockchain was a start; it involved BMW’s plants in Spartanburg, South Carolina and Dingolfing, Germany, as well as three locations of its supplier, Automotive Lighting. BMW now plans to build on to the pilot, eventually reaching a point where the company can have complete traceability of critical raw materials – from mines to smelters. Right now, however, the platform will be rolled out to about 10 suppliers.

“This move is designed to take the digitalization of purchasing at the BMW Group to the next level. Our vision is to create an open platform that will allow data within supply chains to be exchanged and shared safely and anonymized across the industry,” said Wendt. 

BMW had also initiated a consortium called the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) in 2018, which brings together 120 companies from the automotive, mobility and technology sectors. MOBI engages all the different stakeholders within the consortium to create common standards and control models needed for blockchain to break through in the mobility sector. “We want to share our PartChain approach with the initiative and invite interested companies to join the initiative,” said Wendt.

Maritime industry bands together to weather supply chain storm – FreightWaves

Steve Blust said he doesn’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict when U.S. supply chain flows will return to normal in a post-coronavirus world.

“I’m still trying to buy one on Amazon,” joked Blust, president of the Containerization & Intermodal Institute (CII) and the International Institute of Container Lessors (IICL) and a former chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). 

Steve Blust has been heartened to see people come together to fight COVID-19. (Photo: BSYA)

Blust turned serious just as quickly as he tossed out a supply chain joke.

“While I do not have a crystal ball to foresee when the adverse impact on our lives and businesses from COVID-19 will diminish, I am optimistic that social and economic recoveries will proceed as expeditiously as possible as a result of the great efforts by individuals and organizations that are working together within their communities and industries in meeting the challenges that we face today and in the future,” he told American Shipper.

As president of CII, a nonprofit headquartered in Cranford, New Jersey, that promotes international trade and the intermodal container transportation community, and IICL, a Washington-based trade association for the marine container leasing and chassis provider industry, Blust has been on many calls about the coronavirus pandemic over the past several weeks.

“There are a number of group calls that are going on within the industry and public-private approaches that have been quite informative and helpful, and people are really utilizing those to make a difference. They really have been extremely useful and productive,” he said.

Blust provided as an example a call with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency during which a first responder said his organization was not on a priority list for face masks.

“This was early on, like March 4. He raised the issue and one of the parties on the phone was from Health and Human Services and says thanks, they’ve got it noted. The next day FEMA had a conference call with the NBEOC, the National Business Emergency Operations Center. The HHS official was speaking and she said, ‘We’ve added first responders to the priority list for the face masks,’” Blust said. “It wasn’t just a nod, ‘Yeah, you need them.’ It was an immediate action.

“It was gratifying to see something like that carried through and that people responded immediately to it to make sure that those individuals stayed safe as well. It’s people working together to try and keep us as safe as possible,” he said. 

Blust has seen this banding together before, namely after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, while he was chairman of the FMC.

“Some of the things I saw were really heartwarming,” he said, giving Mississippi River pilots as an example. “I used to listen in on their calls. They would have daily phone calls to walk through getting ships in and out of the ports after they had lost all the navigation buoys. They would work to get ships that were in trouble moving. There was a cruise ship stuck in New Orleans that needed fresh water. One person identified a possible source of fresh water in a barge and they were able to get it moved down, get it on the ship and get the ship moving, rather than having all the people stranded there.”

Blust has been heartened to see people come together now to fight the spread of COVID-19. “Priorities have changed,” he said.

“You’re seeing today people who are willing to dedicate themselves to helping other people. That seems to be a common thread all of the way through any of these issues that arise — people working together to find ways to minimize the impact for the greater good,” he said. 

There are containers on the horizon.

“Things are starting to pick up again in Asia. The containers are moving again out of the container depots so there’s a demand over there. Manufacturing of containers has resumed. I don’t know if it’s back to normal, but it has resumed. It is starting to come back on that side and ships are loading,” Blust said.

“People are starting to look a little farther ahead now,” he said. “Of course the big question is, as the cargo starts to move again, will the virus have moved on to make room for the relief to come in after?. We don’t know what the virus is thinking, so it’s really hard to tell. That level of uncertainty is something everybody’s trying to get a little more clarity on so they can see a path to more normalcy.”

It is a certainty that as manufacturing ramps up in China, exports will pick up again.

“Now you’ve got the issues of when will the Western countries — U.S. and Europe — be ready to receive the cargo,” Blust said. “The ports at one point were extremely full with the equipment from prior voyages being returned to the ports after they were used to move the cargo to their destinations. Apparently some of the ocean carriers have come in and swept empties off the marine terminals and opened up some room so that the loaded ships coming in from Asia and other places will have room to actually work.”

Reducing the effects of supply chain disruption again depends on people dedicated to the cause, according to Blust.

“The chassis folks are working with the motor carriers and the ocean carriers to try and minimize the impact of this disruption, and the leasing companies are doing the same thing. It takes a lot of working with partners for all of us to get through this. I think that’s one of the strong suits of the maritime industry. Over the years, over the decades, the maritime industry has faced a lot of challenges and a variety of challenges,” he said.

CMA CGM Marco Polo crew member tested for COVID-19 – FreightWaves

CMA CGM has confirmed a crew member on board the Marco Polo off the coast of Spain is being tested for the coronavirus.

“One crew member of the CMA CGM Marco Polo has taken ill on board. All necessary precautions have been taken to isolate the crew member until medical assistance and a test can be undertaken. No other crew are showing symptoms,” CMA CGM said in an email to American Shipper.

CMA CGM did not say whether other crew members were being quarantined.

“In accordance with the current standard operating procedures, a total disinfection on board has been undertaken,” CMA CGM said.

The French ocean carrier also did not verify reports that Spanish authorities had prohibited the Marco Polo from docking at the Port of Algeciras. Port authorities did not respond to a request for information.

The Marco Polo is the second reported container ship with suspected cases of COVID-19 on board. A.P. Møller-Mærsk confirmed Monday that seven crew members had been evacuated from the Gjertrud Maersk and hospitalized in Ningbo, China. One of those crew members tested positive for the coronavirus, and Maersk said four were “asymptomatic infected individuals.” 

FreightWaves Senior Editor Greg Miller reported recently that if seafarers aboard commercial oceangoing cargo ships started to become infected with the coronavirus, there was major trouble ahead for the global transport network.

The Marco Polo was one of five CMA CGM vessels anchored in the Bay of Marseilles in front of La Major Cathedral in late June 2018 to sound their horns in tribute during the funeral of the company’s founding president, Jacques R. Saadé.

The vessel was one of three 16,000-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) ships built in South Korea by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and delivered to CMA CGM in 2012 and 2013.

Ocean carriers asked to ‘exercise restraint’ on container charges – FreightWaves

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA), which globally represents an industry of about 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, is urging ocean carriers to review their container demurrage and detention charges to ensure that they are not unreasonably applied during the coronavirus pandemic.

Demurrage pertains to the time an import container sits in a container terminal, with carriers responsible for collecting penalties on behalf of the marine terminals, while detention relates to shippers holding containers for too long outside the marine terminals.

The purpose of these charges, which generally range from $150 to $350 per container per day in the U.S., is to incentivize a quick turnaround of container equipment by shippers to the carriers.

“FIATA calls upon shipping lines and terminals to exercise restraint in their demurrage and detention charges and practices, taking into consideration the unprecedented difficulties faced by the freight forwarding industry and other stakeholders amid disruptions in the supply chain,” the Switzerland-based organization said in a Wednesday statement.

FIATA praised the ocean carrier industry for waiving certain demurrage and detention charges during the extended Chinese New Year holiday due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China.

However, in other parts of the world, shippers and their transportation intermediaries are now finding it increasingly difficult to retrieve and drop off containers at marine terminals without incurring these charges due to unscheduled COVID-19-related terminal slowdowns or temporary closures.

The reasonable assessment of demurrage and detention charges, even before the spread of COVID-19, was a hot-button issue for shippers, forwarders and their drayage service providers.

“There is no logic in enforcing a charge which is supposed to motivate the importer to pick up, or return, a container in a timely manner if the port or terminal is not able to comply with the delivery request,” said Jens Roemer, FIATA’s Working Group Sea chairman, in a statement last November.

With myriad government lockdowns and restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19, forwarders are doing their best to quickly load and unload containers to limit detention and demurrage charges from the ocean carriers and marine terminals, FIATA said.

“Our agriculture and forest products exporters are still facing an onslaught of demurrage and detention charges, even with all the blank sailings by the carriers,” said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), based in Washington. “Terminals are closed or have limited hours, carriers come in off-schedule, state governments are restricting ‘non-essential’ cargo supply chains, often leading to inability to meet free-time requirements.”

FIATA said it supports the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) recently proposed rule, which provides guidance under the Shipping Act on what the agency will consider to be fair and reasonable practices for ocean carriers and marine terminals to assess demurrage and detention fees on shippers.

In a March 16 letter, 67 American shipper groups urged the FMC to finalize the rule, which they say is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FMC said last Thursday it plans to finalize the rule soon.

Friedmann, whose association was one of the signatories to the letter, said “it’s unconscionable that it has taken the commission six months to review the overwhelmingly supportive comments on the proposed rule.”

He told American Shipper the AgTC and other associations had recently asked the White House to intervene and generate some urgency at the FMC to finalize the demurrage and detention practices rule.