The act comes as the retail industry has faced significant supply chain challenges that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, introduced by Congressmen John Garamendi and Dusty Johnson, would bring critically needed system improvements.
“The supply chain ecosystem is instrumental to American retailers’ ability to deliver products across the country to customers each day,” David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “Now is the time for the Shipping Act to be modernized to address a 21st century supply chain.”
NRF has been supportive of other infrastructure investments at the federal level, though the association has voiced its concerns over higher taxes to fund it. The retail industry stands to gain from an infrastructure overhaul, as the industry depends on imports and exports to roads, bridges and other transportation to move goods. The supply chain has also been riddled with delays, a labor shortage and other challenges over the last 18 months.
Other trade groups in the coalition include the American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Foreign Trade Council and dozens of others, along with several companies.
“The legislation will also seek to update key provisions of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which hasn’t been updated in over two decades,” reads a letter from the coalition to Representatives Garamendi and Johnson. “The maritime transportation system has changed significantly during those decades. While some maritime transportation system changes have been a positive for the industry overall, we need to ensure the regulations remain applicable to today’s reality. With the creation of the carrier alliances, contraction of the number of carriers in the market, changes to chassis management and others, we believe the time is right for these important reforms.”