The cargo shipping industry is a complicated network of importers, exporters, shippers, and regulators. Even under normal circumstances, this system has difficulty running efficiently. Ports have thousands of containers waiting to be processed, cargo shipping prices are on the rise and companies are struggling to keep their shelves stocked. The cargo shipping industry needed to come together to collaborate, to surface a wide variety of logistical problems, and to propose solutions to them.  

This is the purpose of the National Shipper Advisory Committee (NSAC), a relatively new part of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the governmental regulatory body responsible for overseeing US trade at ports. The FMC’s mission is to maintain “a competitive and reliable international ocean transportation supply system that supports the U.S. economy and protects the public from unfair and deceptive practices.” 

Meanwhile, the NSAC’s charter states that it was created “to provide information, insight, and expertise pertaining to conditions in the ocean freight delivery system to the Commission.” It is comprised of 24 members in total, 12 importers and 12 exporters, along with regulators who are members of the FMC and hold meetings to facilitate discussion about issues arising at the ports.  

Non-regulatory members of the committee include professional representatives from some of the largest companies in the US, for whom the uninterrupted flow of international trade remains a crucial factor. Companies represented are major corporate players, including Amazon, Walmart, Office Depot, Target, Wayfair, IKEA etc., as well as A Custom Brokerage’s own President, Gabriel Rodriguez. Given the experience and background of this group, the committee is poised to provide some of the best advice available on how to resolve current shipping issues. 

The FMC most recently met in December of 2021, where topics discussed included ‘data sharing and visibility’ as well as ‘fees and surcharges.’ On the first set of points, the committee raised a number of concerns around universalizing shared terminology, standardizing productivity, shipping progress notifications, last-minute changes, and consistency with Earliest Return Dates (ERDs). 

When it came to ‘fees and surcharges,’ concerns arose regarding regulations for detention and demurrage (D&D) and consistent regulations for D&D-relevant billing practices, issues relating to extended and forced carrier holding, arguably unfair freight prices, and new port fees. 

Although still fairly recently established, the committee has already surfaced a wealth of information and experience that will help the FMC address issues in the cargo shipping system, making the lives of importers and exports easier. We look forward to our continued participation with the FMC and to helping importers and exporters with all aspects of their cargo shipping challenges.