Two subcommittees of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform have sent letters to A.P. Moller Maersk, CMA CGM Group and Hapag-Lloyd “requesting information about dramatic increases in the prices for shipping containers and reports of exorbitant fees and surcharges,” according to a press release issued last week.
The letters, from James Clyburn, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, seek to address “increased costs throughout the supply chain, contributing to inflation and hurting US consumers and businesses.”
“Affordable shipping rates are critical to ensuring that small and medium-sized business owners can continue to make a living and provide goods and services to consumers at reasonable prices,” the chairs wrote. “We are deeply concerned that [Maersk, CMA CGM, and Hapag-Lloyd] may have engaged in predatory business practices during the pandemic, making scores of essential goods needlessly expensive for consumers and small businesses.”
The opening of this investigation follows President Biden’s announcement in his State of the Union address of a crackdown on shipping companies overcharging American businesses and consumers. The letters cited staggering increases in profits for all three companies.
The chairs requested documents and information from each company explaining their decision to increase shipping rates well beyond their costs. The companies are asked to respond by March 16.