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Federal Maritime Commission staff have moved expeditiously in meeting the March 2022 directive of Chairman Daniel B. Maffei to examine how key ocean carriers are serving U.S. export shippers.

The review is being conducted by the Commission’s Vessel Operating Common Carrier (VOCC) Audit Program which this week finished its first round of meetings with 11 key shipping lines.  The VOCC Audit Team is using these meetings to identify which ocean carriers have export strategies, how well those strategies work, and to urge companies without export strategies to establish one.

“Helping U.S. export shippers is my top priority as Chairman and I will ask my fellow Commissioners and Commission staff to utilize the full extent of our authority to ensure American agricultural producers and manufacturers reach overseas markets.  The information the Audit Team is gathering from the shipping lines will be invaluable in identifying what carriers are doing well in carrying exports and where we must push carriers to do more.  It’s one part of our comprehensive effort to encourage the ocean carrier industry to increase export service overall,” said Chairman Maffei.

In each meeting the VOCC Audit Team discussed recent trends in carrier export numbers, placing a particular focus on agricultural exports.  Information gathered from interviews will provide better insight into market trends and performance, as well as where opportunities exist for individual lines to improve or increase access to service offerings. The VOCC Audit Team will continue to engage ocean carriers on export issues, but initial findings from the interviews will be presented to the Commission at a meeting later this Spring.

Directing the VOCC Audit Team’s examination of export programs is only one of several priority, investigative, compliance, and oversight initiatives established by Chairman Maffei to address challenges U.S. export shippers face in securing ocean transportation services and reaching overseas markets.

To improve exporter assistance services, Chairman Maffei directed the re-assignment of a Commission employee who is an industry veteran to serve as an Export Expert in CADRS.

Chairman Maffei previously ordered the Bureau of Enforcement (BoE) and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) to give priority above all other work to any case involving an exporter.

In March the BoE launched an examination of five independent ocean carriers calling U.S. ports to determine if their conduct related to the export trades is compliant with U.S. statutes. That review is ongoing.

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