Shippers Ask Congress to Weigh in on New Container Rule

Exporters say a rule requiring them to verify the weight of containers will raise transportation costs

The Wall Street Journal
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April 21, 2016—U.S. exporters are asking Congress for help in a dispute with ocean carriers over a new regulation on weighing containers that shippers say will raise their costs.

Ocean carriers have said they will reject any containers for which shippers have not submitted a verified gross mass come July 1. A number of U.S. ports have said they will not allow trucks to enter their gates if shippers haven’t complied.

In testimony Wednesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing on the maritime industry, Perry Bourne, director of international transportation at Tyson Foods Inc., said carriers’ interpretations of the weight requirement are too narrow and will disrupt U.S. exports, adding that the carriers have been unwilling to negotiate.

U.S. shippers say they weren’t adequately consulted about the rule, which was adopted in 2014 as an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, or SOLAS, by the United NationsInternational Maritime Organization. They say suggested methods of weighing laid out in the amendment are overly complicated and costly, and have proposed that carriers, which own the containers, help with compliance by providing the weight of empty containers themselves.

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