Jun 16, 2022
U.S. Apple: ocean shipping reform a step in the right direction

U.S. Apple President and CEO Jim Bair attended the signing ceremony at the White House for the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.

President Joe Biden signed the legislation on June 16.

Apple leaders across the U.S. have long advocated for an overhaul to ocean shipping laws to help clear port blockages and prevent foreign ocean carriers from leaving U.S. ports with empty containers.

U.S. Apple Association President and CEO Jim Bair with President Biden. Photo: U.S. Apple Association

“There haven’t been many export victories for apple growers during the past four years between the ongoing trade wars, the resulting retaliatory tariffs and our lost markets, so it was gratifying to see President Biden sign the Ocean Shipping Reform Act into law today,” U.S. Apple President and CEO Jim Bair said in a news release. “Apple growers and businesses have been advocating for substantial changes to the ocean shipping laws, most recently at U.S. Apple’s annual Capitol Hill Day in March.”

According to the association, year-to-date apple exports to all destinations are down 34% compared with 2018, with apple exports to India – then the second-largest market – down 98%.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, passed unanimously by the Senate and with a large bipartisan majority in the House, is the first time since 1998 that Congress has passed legislation to overhaul ocean shipping laws. The bill mandates the Federal Maritime Commission to complete rulemaking defining unreasonable refusal of U.S. exports. According to U.S. Apple, the bill’s language isn’t as tough as groups representing agriculture shippers would have liked, referencing earlier versions that instructed the Federal Maritime Commission how to define unreasonableness. While work remains to ensure the act’s implementation brings the needed changes, it is a step in the right direction, according to the association.

“Congress has been spending a lot of time fighting, as we see in the daily news, so it’s heartening to see them come together, iron out differences, and do something positive for U.S. agricultural exports,” Bair said in the release. “Work remains to be done, but if this calms the headwinds even a little, our growers will benefit.”

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