Gemini Shippers Group joined almost 50 associations in a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission seeking relief from Demurrage and Detention changes in the wake on continuous operational challenges in Americas largest ports. A copy of the complete letter can be downloaded here: Coalition Letter to FMC 11.16
November 16, 2020
Chairman Michael Khouri & Commissioners
Federal Maritime Commission
800 North Capitol Street, N.W
Washington, D.C. 20573
RE: REQUEST FOR SUSPENSION OF DETENTION & DEMURRAGE AT SAN PEDRO BAY AND NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY PORTS
On behalf of the undersigned trade associations representing importers, exporters,
and their supply-chain partners, we respectfully ask you to explore all available
powers and authority to immediately suspend detention and demurrage charges,
which are being unfairly and unreasonably assessed in the Ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach, as well as the Port of New York & New Jersey by ocean carriers and
marine terminals. Collectively, our members have paid well over $150 million in
unreasonable detention and demurrage charges this year in the twin Southern
California ports and the port of New York & New Jersey due to the massive
congestion created by record setting volumes, coupled with a shortage of both
skilled labor and available chassis. We believe the assessment of detention and
demurrage in this situation goes against the heart of the Interpretive Rule on
Demurrage and Detention which the Commission issued last year.
In Southern California, the “Pool of Pools” chassis agreement has been massively
oversubscribed, leading to the biggest chassis shortage in the history of the San
Pedro Bay port complex. Despite efforts by the shipping and trucking industry to
promote more dual-transactions to allow chassis to be recycled during the pick-up
and drop-off of containers, the ocean carriers have refused to provide advanced
notification of empty receiving locations to allow truckers and marine terminals to
partner on increasing dual-transactions throughout the port complex. In a letter
sent to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, dated August 25, 2020, a similar
coalition of 40 organizations requested ocean carriers to provide at least 48 hours
advanced notice of empty receiving locations and for marine terminals to guarantee
those appointments. Thus far, no ocean carrier has been willing to provide truckers
and shippers with the data necessary to mitigate the challenges in the San Pedro
Bay. Subsequent one on one meetings between coalition members and ocean
carriers yielded no tangible results and a refusal to help solve these issues.
Chassis shortages have also reached critical mass at the Port of NY/NJ, where dwell
times have nearly tripled in recent weeks. Restrictions on empty returns imposed by
ocean carrier alliances further exacerbate the problem, with containers redirected
at the whim of steamship lines, resulting in additional truck trips for motor carriers
as they are forced to reposition equipment to locations other than the point of
origin, for no additional compensation, but rather, at their own expense of time and
In addition, due to the shortage of skilled ILWU labor, ocean carriers have fallen
woefully short of their obligation to evacuate empty containers from marine
terminals to create more space on their docks. Meanwhile, they have continued to
unload loaded import containers creating congestion at the terminals. This has
resulted in restrictions by marine terminals further thwarting the ability to
terminate empty containers or pickup imports during the allotted free time. Also,
ocean carriers are canceling export bookings leading to further trade deficits and
creating hardships for American exporters.
The trucking community servicing the San Pedro Bay ports are working diligently to
maintain cargo fluidity, however through no fault of the truckers or their customers,
the hurdles to do so have become insurmountable and there looks to be no
consideration or reprieve from the detention and demurrage charges that shippers
and truckers cannot avoid. The restrictions on empty container returns, created by
empty-in appointments and ocean carriers exceeding their empty allocations on
terminal, have created an increase in demurrage due to the inability to free up
chassis via an empty container termination or dual transaction impeding the ability
to perform single import container pickups.
In the short term, we again ask for a suspension of these unreasonable detention
and demurrage charges in the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York & New
Jersey due to current conditions and the lack of adoption of the FMC interpretive
rule guidelines, which would have helped mitigate these issues. We would further
ask that the Commission review and disallow carriers from filing or collecting any
surcharges for congestion, trucking or equipment for moving in and through these
ports until they have made a constructive action to remedy the problems.
In the long-term, we ask the FMC to use the interpretive rule on detention and
demurrage as a template for rulemaking. The lack of participation by the ocean
carriers is glaring, and the commercial and operational benefits they were afforded
through the shipping alliances have created commercial and operational hardships
for the rest of the supply-chain.
We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created disruption throughout the
supply chain. However, as the U.S. economy and companies continue to recover,
they should not have to be worried about congestion and additional costs that will
further impact their businesses and recovery efforts. We must work collectively to
address these systemic issues, which the FMC is well aware of through previous
investigations. The FMC must take action to support the interests of U.S. companies
and consumers to ensure that the carriers are not imposing unfair costs on
American exporters, importers or consumers.
Harbor Trucking Association
California Trucking Association
American Trucking Association
Intermodal Carriers Conference
Agriculture Transportation Coalition
National Retail Federation
Gemini Shippers Group
American Cotton Shippers Association
Association Food Industries
Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers
California League of Food Producers
California Retailers Association
Coalition of New England Companies for Trade
Columbia River Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association
Customs Brokers & International Freight Forwarders Association of Washington State
Customs Brokers and Forwarders of Northern California
Dairy Farmers of America
Fashion Accessories Shippers Association
Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association
Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America
International Association of Movers
International Housewares Shippers Association, Inc.
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
Leather & Hide Council of America
Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association
Meat Import Council of America
National Hay Association
National Industrial Transportation League
National Onion Association
NCBFAA Shippers Association, Inc.
New Jersey Motor Truck Association
North American Meat Institute
NY/NJ Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association
Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Associations. Inc.
Pacific Northwest Asia Shippers Association
Retail Industry Leaders Association
San Diego Customs Brokers Association
Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance
Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc.
Toy Shippers Association, Inc.
Transportation Intermediaries Association
Travel Goods Association
U.S. Forage Export Council
United Fresh Produce Association
Wine and Spirits Shippers Association Inc.
Members of Congress
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York
Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles
Robert Garcia, Mayor of Long Beach
Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles
Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach
Sam Rouda, Port of New York, New Jersey
Gemini Shippers Group continues to advocate for our members to improve operating conditions for importers and exporters in North America. Yesterday, our group working with the Harbor Trucking Association addressed the continued operational challenges impacting the port’s of Los Angeles, Long Beach competitiveness. As many of your know, we continue to see challenges with; chassis shortages, trucker shortages, terminal congestion and appointment system inefficiency. Our letter, directed to the port directors and their boards, urges the use of all of their available powers to ensure that port’s competitiveness and to reduce the cost of doing business when using the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. A copy of the letter can be found here: Coalition Letter. The association will continue to work with port authorities, terminal operators and stakeholders to drive positive change in our industry.
Gemini Shippers Group
Commissioner Dye Completes Work in NY & NJ, Turns Attention to New Orleans
August 4, 2020
Operations and cargo flow at the Port of New York and New Jersey have been minimally impacted by COVID-19 and the leadership at the bi-state organization has prioritized improving the container return process to further increase efficiencies and better serve shippers and truckers.
Those are the two central observations highlighted by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye in Phase Two of her review under Fact Finding 29, an investigation of COVID-19 impacts on liner shipping supply chains in U.S. trades.
Interviews with users of the port, as well as the findings of Innovation Teams assembled for Phase Two, revealed that despite being situated in an early COVID-19 hotspot, Port Authority leadership responded effectively to challenges that arose. Port users report that as a result of this effort facilities in the two states are working well. Especially helpful was the early and active intervention of port leadership with the local and state governments. Also cited was the effectiveness of stakeholder cooperation under the Council for Port Performance (CPP).
Commissioner Dye began her Phase Two review by assessing which of the four operational challenges identified during the Phase One examination of the Southern California ports were applicable to the situation in New York and New Jersey. The only common challenge was the need to make progress in returning chassis in a manner that facilitates a “double move”. Senior port executives advised that achieving that goal is a high priority and the CPP is working to improve the process.
“During Phase One, our team members raised concerns about specific operations at Los Angeles and Long Beach. They identified container returns, terminal closure notification, blanked sailings, and communication of Earliest Return Date for export containers as areas for improvement. After many interviews and careful review of circumstances, it was clear that operations at the Port of New York and New Jersey were in good shape. However, our team members did encourage greater ocean carrier participation in port performance discussions as a step toward achieving better drayage outcomes,” commented Commissioner Dye.
While Fact Finding 29 will next examine the Port of New Orleans, Commissioner Dye continues to focus on progress made to adopt the operational changes Phase One Innovation teams identified as necessary to improve performance of the Southern California ports and terminals.
“We believe trade volumes are likely to substantially increase going forward and the Southern California ports remain the key gateway for the Nation’s international commerce. The ports, their terminal tenants, and the ocean carriers that use those facilities must embrace changes that improve efficiencies and operations and act now to implement them,” said Commissioner Dye.
Gemini Shippers Group will be part of the Federal Maritime Communion discussion of COVID-19 related impacts to the supply chain. You can learn about next phase of fact finding 29 below:
Commissioner Rebecca Dye’s Fact Finding investigation of COVID-19 related impacts to the supply chain (Fact Finding 29) is entering Phase Two with a concentration on issues related to operations at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) and surrounding facilities. She is also announcing plans for an online seminar addressing key topics of interest to the industry.
Three teams consisting of truckers, terminal operators, shippers, intermediaries, and other parties critical to the movement of intermodal ocean cargoes through the PANYNJ facilities will support Phase Two of the investigation. These teams will study what operational adjustments will prepare the bi-state port complex for dealing with increasing cargo volumes in the future. Successes will be captured and analyzed for their applicability at other ports. Additionally, as in Phase One in Southern California, Phase Two Supply Chain Innovation Teams are tasked with identifying any operational challenges to efficient port and supply chain operations and then proposing an industry-driven solution for improving matters.
“I heard from many parties that Fact Finding 29 should take a regional approach in its examination of COVID-19 related impacts to the supply chain. Given its prominence as an East Coast gateway, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is the logical focus for Phase Two of my investigation. As with Los Angeles, we will be examining how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is both adjusting operations in response to the pandemic and laying the groundwork for handling higher cargo volumes in the future,” said Commissioner Dye.
As part of Fact Finding 29, Commissioner Dye will hold an online seminar where she will provide a briefing on service contracts and related vessel capacity and cargo forecasting issues. Details regarding the specifics of the event will be announced at a later date.
Concurrently, Commissioner Dye continues to engage key industry leaders in Southern California about progress they have made in implementing four approaches that can immediately address critical operational issues at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These objectives were identified by Supply Chain Innovation Teams created for Phase One of Fact Finding 29.
“A key to improving supply chain efficiencies is overcoming the lack of ‘ownership’ for the most serious operational issues. Everyone wants to see meaningful operational changes at our Southern California port gateway, but solutions will require serious engagement between ocean carriers and marine terminal operators. Toward that goal, we have directly involved the most senior U.S.-based executives of ocean carriers belonging to the three alliances and expressed the expectation they work with their terminal partners on the four issues identified by the Phase One Innovation Teams. In particular, priority will be given to allowing truckers to return empty containers to the terminal where they picked up the loaded container. We will continue supporting the progress to improve preparations for increased future volumes and will have continued conversations with the carrier CEOs and marine terminal operators in this regard,” said Commissioner Dye.
A later phase of Fact Finding 29 will focus on the Port of New Orleans.
Did you know that your ocean manifest information is available to the public? The Freedom of Information Act requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to make certain manifest data elements available to the public. Your manifest data can be accessed by your competitors, customers, and third party data publishers.
But, there is a way to suppress this data, and it became easier to do as of this morning.
Importers, exporter and consignee’s can take action to have this information removed from public record. This morning U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) deployed an automated online application for submitting electronic vessel manifest confidentiality requests, which removes access to your data by third parties.
This enhancement will enable importers, exporters and consignees utilizing ocean transportation to manage their own confidentiality requests electronically via an online application.
Currently, carriers, importers, exporters, or consignees may submit mail or email requests for confidential treatment of their name and address on inward and outward vessel manifests, which typically requires 60-90 days for processing. The new enhancement automates this process via an online application and it become effective almost immediately.
You can find out more information on the program and the rules for manifest confidentiality on the USCBP website here.
You can access the online form to enter your request here .
If members need help or guidance on this, please contact the association
Members of Gemini Shippers Group joined other industry CEO’s in signing the below letter to the President this week on duty deferral during the COVID-19 crisis.
A copy of the letter and companies that signed is included here: CEO Duty Deferral Letter to President Trump 033120 – Final
March 31, 2020
The President The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump,
Thank you for the unprecedented steps your Administration has taken to meet the enormous liquidity
challenges that have been created by the economic fallout of the deadly COVID 19 pandemic. These
steps have included delaying many payments, such as income tax and student loans. Until these
payments are ultimately made, these delays will give Americans access to much needed cash to help
them survive during these challenging times. In that vein, we are writing to ask for additional,
urgent help this week.
We are urgently asking you to delay the collection of duties, including those that many companies
were required to pay this past Friday, for a period of 90-180 days to give companies like ours
access to cash that would normally be paid to the U.S. government.
Delaying duties helps us preserve cash flow – critically important during a prolonged period of
little to no revenue – allowing us to keep our businesses in operation so we can preserve U.S.
jobs. At the same time, delaying duties does not undermine the effect of tariffs on trade flows
because the money is still due.
Mr. President, only you can take this swift action, but in doing so, you would provide immediate
relief to both large and small businesses, including manufacturers, retailers and other service
providers, farmers and ranchers.