Biden Takes Swing at Inflation, Signs Law to Cut Shipping Rates
Comment of the Day

June 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Takes Swing at Inflation, Signs Law to Cut Shipping Rates

This article for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“One of the factors affecting prices is this: nine major shipping companies consolidated into three alliances controlling the vast majority, mostly shipping in the world,” Biden said.

“And each of these nine is foreign-owned. During the pandemic, these carriers increased their prices by as much as 1,000%.”

Attempts to “demonize ocean carriers” are not only inaccurate but dangerous because they undermine the ability to understand the root of US supply-chain problems, the World Shipping Council said in a statement.

“As long as America’s ports, rail yards and warehouses remain overloaded and unable to cope with the increased trade levels, vessels will remain stuck outside ports to the detriment of importers as well as exporters,” the WSC said. “Ocean carriers continue to move record volumes of cargo for our country and have invested heavily in new capacity – America needs to make the same commitment and invest in its land-side logistics infrastructure.”

Eoin Treacy's view

Price controls are a lot easier to impose when the targets are overseas companies. The challenge is that insisting ships need to leave with full cargoes ignores the reality of a trade imbalance. China does not import the same quantity of goods from the USA that it exports. It’s impossible to send every ship back full, at a minimum loading empty containers is time consuming and additional layers of compliance raise costs and slow down turn around. Of course, there is also the possibility these measures could shift supply of ships away from the USA if the burden of regulation becomes too onerous.

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