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Biden to Take Aim at Rising Ocean Shipping and Rail Costs -Source


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will order U.S. transportation agencies in coming days to address competition in rail and sea shipping in an effort to lower the costs of shipping goods for companies, a source familiar with the plan told Reuters on Thursday.

Biden’s executive order, aimed at the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the Surface Transportation Board (STB), is also aimed at ultimately helping to lower consumer prices, the source said.

The order will ask the STB to consider longstanding measures to increase competition where the railroad is monopolized, including socalled “competitive switching rules” which require a monopoly railway to grant access to its railroad under certain conditions.

It also urges FMC “to take all possible steps to protect American exporters from the high costs imposed by the ocean carriers” and to “crack down on unjust and unreasonable fees, including detention and demurrage charges.”

Biden’s wide ranging executive order addressing competition throughout the U.S. economy first is expected to be released as early as Friday and will push for everything from making it easier for farmers to repair their own tractors to new rules to require airlines to refund baggage fees for delayed luggage.

Reuters first reported the planned executive order last week but the White House has continued to rollout additional proposals in recent days.

Transport costs for shipping goods have continued to soar during the COVID19 pandemic at a time of growing consolidation in transportation markets.

The forthcoming executive order “encourages the independent federal agencies regulating these markets to take steps to promote competition – which will save American businesses money on shipping costs. That, in turn, will lower prices for American consumers,” the source said.

Biden’s executive order will also cover other issues addressing noncompete agreements for workers, licensing requirements, Defense contracts, cell phones, agriculture and antitrust enforcement. (Reporting by David Shepardson; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Alex Richardson/Mark Heinrich/Kirsten Donovan)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of News2Sea.

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