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War of words escalates as exporters scramble for scarce containers

A war of words is heating up over U.S. exports, particularly food exports — and the outcome of that clash could affect U.S. containerized imports as well.

Reports first surfaced in late October that carriers were rushing containers back empty from California to Asia to serve lucrative headhaul trades instead of loading U.S. export cargoes.

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Michael Khouri warned in December: “We are looking into all potential responsive actions, including a review of whether ocean carriers’ actions are in full compliance with the Shipping Act.”

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