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Chairman Maffei Speaks at CONECT Conference in Newport, RI

Chairman Maffei standing in a blue suit and speaking at a podium. front of

On April 10, 2024, Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Daniel B. Maffei delivered the luncheon keynote address at the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade’s (CONECT) 28th Annual Trade & Transportation Conference held in Newport, Rhode Island. Chairman Maffei addressed the ongoing, post-COVID-19 issues faced by the international shipping industry and the Commission’s efforts to help industry stakeholders navigate these challenges.

Specifically, Chairman Maffei discussed the obstacles presented by the unrest in the Red Sea region and its impact on Suez Canal transits, the low water levels at the Panama Canal, and the recent tragedy that occurred near the Port of Baltimore when the M/V DALI allided with the Francis Key Scott Bridge. The Chairman reminded attendees of the importance of diversifying their supply chains in the face of the current state of global uncertainties.

“For these sorts of issues, you cannot prevent the next challenge, but you can prepare for it by maintaining a healthy inventory and diversifying supply chains. Utilize different ports and inland transportation. Buy space on multiple carriers and when appropriate. Shippers who use intermediaries, make sure your freight forwarders prioritize resilience and/or use multiple forwarders. And most important, if you can, import from or export to an array of different countries,” said Chairman Maffei.

He also addressed how the Federal Maritime Commission evolved following the enactment of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022.

“We continue to bolster our Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance both in terms of personnel and capability. We have developed and are working to perfect a streamlined charge complaint process, intended to alleviate the burdens of protracted and costly litigation involved with detention and demurrage. We have published a landmark final rule on demurrage and detention billing practices as part of our continuing efforts to enforce the Incentive Principle interpretive rule authored by Commissioner Rebecca Dye and approved unanimously by the FMC in Spring 2020. We are close to publishing our final rule to ensure that ocean carriers cannot unreasonably refuse to deal with shippers or unreasonably decline export cargoes. And we have added personnel to the Office of Consumer Affairs & Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) that helps shippers get information and solve problems in various informal ways.”

The Chairman applauded CONECT’s dedication to maintaining a diverse membership, which includes importers, exporters, freight forwarders, truckers, ports, non-vessel-operating common carriers, and ocean carriers. The Chairman noted that there is nothing more critical to the proper function of our supply chains than cooperation among industry stakeholders to achieve fair and healthy competition.

Chairman Daniel B. Maffei is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.