A.P. Møller – Maersk said it is taking container congestion and intermodal equipment scarcity seriously and addressing "the concerns of the U.S. export community and the trucking industry feeling the impact during this already difficult time."
Maersk North America said in a press release Monday that as a result of "surging U.S. imports and the resulting intermodal equipment flow imbalances, all members of the logistics sector have been challenged to find solutions. Maersk senior officials have stated that this is a situation the company takes very seriously. Every component of Maerk's integrated global logistics business model is working across the entire logistics spectrum to respond with solutions involving all supply chain participants."
The statement quoted CEO Soren Skou as saying Maersk is working with the Federal Maritime Commission, Agriculture Transportation Coalition, Harbor Trucking Association on the West Coast and the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers on the East Coast "to find new and better ways to serve their needs. As the global integrator of container logistics, we are confident that we can find workable solutions that will alleviate supply chain pain points."
Maersk said Skou recently discussed challenges facing U.S. exporters with FMC Chairman Michael Khouri and that Franck DeDenis, its head of North American trade, addressed the concerns of AgTC members during a virtual meeting earlier this month.
"We are working closely with the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and local trucking associations to address their concerns of equipment availability and detention and demurrage issues — with more intensive meetings planned in the months ahead," Narin Phol, Maersk North America's regional managing director, said in Monday's press release. "These challenges require all participants to work together and we look forward to continuing our role in bringing much-needed solutions to the current issues. FMC Commissioner Rebecca Dye has the industry knowledge, relationships and credibility to sponsor the necessary industry solutions and we appreciate her leadership on this matter."
In a commentary American Shipper published last week, AgTC Executive Director Peter Friedmann also praised Dye's leadership and urged "exporters, importers, forwarders and truckers to submit examples of injurious treatment" to her.
"The Shipping Act mandates ‘reasonable' practices in ocean shipping," Friedmann explained. "Last year the FMC's rule provided ocean carriers and marine terminals with guidelines for reasonable demurrage and detention practices. U.S. exporters and importers were hopeful, but we continued to suffer, as not one of the recommended reasonable practices was implemented by the carriers and terminals.
"The carriers and terminals were ill-advised to ignore the commission's rule. Now the commissioners are stepping forward, appearing united and determined to enforce compliance with the guidelines to achieve the purpose of the act ‘to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through competitive and efficient ocean transportation,'" he wrote.
Maersk also said in Monday's press release that it has been in "daily contact" with HTA CEO Weston LaBar to address the challenges surging imports have caused for truckers at such major ports as Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In mid-November, a coalition led by the HTA called for the FMC to consider an immediate suspension of detention and demurrage charges at the ports of LA, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey due to congestion. During a press conference on the detention and demurrage relief effort, LaBar praised Maersk for its willingness to step up and explore solutions.
Days earlier Maersk had issued a statement saying it would meet with the HTA, "whose membership of 15,000+ truck drivers performs the important role of harbor trucking from ports to warehouses and distribution centers — essential to supply chain success."
Denmark-headquartered Maersk said Monday it is in a unique position, as the world's largest ocean shipping company also owns APM Terminals Pier 400 Los Angeles, the largest privately run container terminal in North America.
APM Terminals Pier 400 "plays a pivotal role in the daily flow of cargo with the trucking community," Maersk said, pointing out that working with LaBar and the HTA, "the terminal is focused on dual transactions, which enable a trucker to return an empty container and pick up an import container for local delivery in the same trip."
Maersk said 65% of Pier 400's gate transactions are dual transactions, "and the goal is to increase this, enabling higher productivity trips for harbor truckers."
The Port of Long Beach said earlier this month it is collaborating with terminal operators to promote and prioritize dual transactions. In November, the Port of LA launched a Return Signal platform that Executive Director Gene Seroka said was "designed to help our trucking community know where and when it can return empty containers throughout the San Pedro Bay complex, thus enhancing the probability of dual transactions."
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