On April 20, the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security conducted a hearing to gather stakeholder input on issues currently affecting the U.S. maritime transportation system. Witnesses included a representative of Tyson Foods Inc., who identified upcoming changes to the International Maritime Organization’s container weight verification rules as “by far the most urgent issue facing shippers today.”
Effective July 1, 2016, shippers will not only be responsible for reporting the normal gross cargo weight, but also for certifying the verified gross mass (VGM) of each container, before cargo can be loaded on a ship. Exporters are concerned that the new requirements will result in shipping delays and excessive additional costs.
Other issues discussed at the hearing included the ongoing problem of West Coast port congestion and potential difficulties related to alliances formed by large ocean carriers. Witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing are available on the subcommittee’s webpage.