Falls Church, Va. (June 16, 2022)—U.S. Apple President and CEO Jim Bair attended a signing ceremony today at the White House for the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. Apple leaders from across the U.S. have long advocated for an overhaul to ocean shipping laws to help clear port blockages and prevent foreign ocean carriers from leaving U.S. ports with empty containers rather than taking on U.S. export cargo.

“There haven’t been many export victories for apple growers during the past four years between the ongoing trade wars, the resulting retaliatory tariffs and our lost markets, so it was gratifying to see President Biden sign the Ocean Shipping Reform Act into law today,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair. “Apple growers and businesses have been advocating for substantial changes to the ocean shipping laws, most recently at USApple’s annual Capitol Hill Day in March.”

According to USApple, year-to-date apple exports to all destinations are down 34 percent compared with 2018, with apple exports to India – then the number two market – down 98 percent.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, passed unanimously by the Senate and with a large bipartisan majority in the House, is the first time since 1998 that Congress has passed legislation to overhaul ocean shipping laws. The bill mandates the Federal Maritime Commission to complete rulemaking defining unreasonable refusal of U.S. exports. According to USApple, the bill’s language isn’t as tough as groups representing agriculture shippers would have liked, referencing earlier versions that instructed the Commission how to define unreasonableness.  While work remains to ensure the act’s implementation brings the needed changes, it is a step in the right direction.

“Congress has been spending a lot of time fighting, as we see in the daily news, so it’s heartening to see them come together, iron out differences, and do something positive for U.S. agricultural exports,” said Bair. “Work remains to be done, but if this calms the headwinds even a little, our growers will benefit.”