AAFA lauds movement of shipping, Haiti legislation
Posted December 9, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) applauded bipartisan passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 (OSRA21) in the House of Representatives, as well as the introduction of legislation to extend the Haitian Hemisphere Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act and the Haitian Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act until 2035.
Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021
This bill would require the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to establish and enforce rules regarding minimum service requirements for shippers, respond to breaches of contracts and address excessive and unjust detention and demurrage fees. These practices – left unchecked for much of the year – have undermined the U.S. economic recovery, compounded U.S. inflation rates, delayed billions of dollars in cargo and stranded hundreds of ships off of American coastlines.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act directly addresses many of the issues that have created today’s shipping crisis, causing the biggest headwinds facing the U.S. recovery and eroding American value. AAFA encourages equally swift passage of OSRA by the Senate to stem the tide of this disaster, and benefit all Americans by helping to bring this crisis under control while preventing future crises,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the AAFA.
“Any reports that the shipping crisis is in the rearview mirror have been premature,” he continued. “Rather, we are seeing deteriorating conditions and swelling impacts across our global supply chains. Once passed, OSRA21 will reduce or eliminate carrier price gouging, epic freight costs, record delays – and other unfair and excessive punitive fees that only fuel inflationary pressures.
“The apparel, footwear and retail industry is pleased to see the Biden Administration escalating its concerns and attention on this issue as well, including expressing strong support for this legislation,” he added. “In that vein, we call on the Biden administration to bring all stakeholders to the table to continue working on immediate actions to unsnarl the current shipping logjams and to require the FMC to fulfill its oversight role to address price gouging and other malpractices. Recognizing that unblocking these bottlenecks will take months, we also continue to urge the Biden administration to provide broad and immediate tariff relief to American businesses today, by using its powers under Section 301 to eliminate the unending punitive tariffs on U.S. imports from China, and by urging Congress to immediately and retroactively renew critical trade preference programs including the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) before year’s end.
"Thank you again to Representatives John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) for their leadership in championing this important bill."
AAFA sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy urging that the House vote “YES” on H.R. 4996 to strengthen the overseas supply chain and ensure fairness in the global ocean shipping industry. This follows numerous calls to action for President Biden and to the FMC regarding the shipping crisis.
Companion bills have been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to extend these programs that aim to improve opportunities for the Haitian people through trade preferences designed to support manufacturing jobs in the apparel industry.
“Haiti is an important partner to the industry, both as a source of finished apparel and a market for American-made components,” said Lamar. “Haiti has experienced many hardships in recent years, from natural disasters to political unrest. Renewing these programs encourages companies to continue to work in Haiti and grow the industry there. While a stronger industry is beneficial for the Haitian people, it also supports thousands of American jobs that rely on Haiti as a market for U.S.-made textiles. Thank you to Senators Rubio and Cassidy, and Representatives Salazar and Wilson for introducing this important legislation.”
Haiti is currently the 13th largest source of apparel to the U.S. market, representing 1.36% of imports by volume. Key to the country’s growth as a sourcing partner has been the 1983 Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, and the amendments that were made to it via the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, and the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act.