U.S. consumers are buying too much, and shipping companies are reluctant to spend time shipping U.S. goods for export, preferring to return empty containers to Asia. This situation makes it difficult for soybeans from Minnesota to be exported. U.S. lawmakers have proposed to stop this practice.
Axios reported on the 5th that the route from Asia to the United States is too profitable. Since the fall of 2020, shippers have begun to reject US export orders in order to buy time to return to Asia as soon as possible.
Joe Smentek, executive director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, said local soybean exporters could not find boats to ship soybeans to Asian countries. He revealed that there were containers waiting for 90 days at the Pacific port in the northwest of the United States.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, dissatisfied, introduced a bill to restrict empty containers leaving U.S. ports for shippers, which received unanimous support last week. Klobuchar said the bill would lock down international shippers, restricting them from “exporting air” and leaving U.S. goods behind. The bill would set a tariff cap and would require the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to draft rules that would prohibit carriers from unreasonably rejecting U.S. goods, and would give the FMC more power to regulate what the shipping industry does.
Klobuchar emphasized that the lack of U.S. agricultural products will hurt jobs in the state. However, the World Shipping Council, which represents giants such as Maersk, disagreed, saying that the bill could not solve the problem of congestion in the U.S. surface supply chain, and called for increased investment in port infrastructure and other more forward-looking solutions.