by Robin Kemp
U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA)has written a letter to President Joe Biden, asking the White House’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force to investigate and issue a report on what he described as looking like “price gouging” by international cargo carriers.
In a press release, Warnock alleged that carriers have padded earnings and increased their own profits while Georgia families pick up the tab through higher prices. Specifically, Warnock asked that the White House investigate carriers who have increased spot prices for shipping.
Warnock, who serves on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said “the business practices of a few corporations with outsize influence over our economy cannot be ignored. Inflation and rising costs for families is a persistent problem about which I hear from Georgians every day, and we must ensure that corporate greed is not unnecessarily contributing to this problem while Georgia families struggle.”
Warnock praised the hard work of essential workers at the Port of Savannah, railroads, trucking companies, and small businesses.
“I applaud the work of America’s supply chain workers who are dealing with record-breaking volumes. The Port of Savannah has reported 12 consecutive months of record growth, a volume increase of 25 percent from 2020 to 2021. Truck drivers and train operators are working around the clock to help keep goods moving, while small businesses are reworking their own supply chains to mitigate disruptions.
“While these essential workers have kept our economy running, there is evidence to suggest that large corporations and their wealthy investors, particularly those in the shipping industry, have sought to take advantage of this market volatility to pad their bottom line.”
Warnock cited a recent report by Bloomberg that global carriers are posting record profits.
“In the second quarter of 2020, soon after the COVID-19 emergency declaration, global carriers made a profit of $2.2 billion. In the third quarter of 2021, the most recent data available, their profit rose to $48.1 billion – an increase of more than 2,000%. Last year, Maersk reported its most profitable quarter in the 117-year history of the company, and instead of cutting prices and passing saving on to consumers and small businesses, the company is extending share buybacks to return billions of dollars in profits taken from everyday Americans to their wealthy investors.
He added, “These costs are being borne most acutely by everyday Georgians and small businesses. There is no discernable increase in services provided by the global shipping providers or technological advances that justify the increase in costs. Carriers are profiting twice: first, when small businesses ship in necessary raw and intermediary goods, and again when these businesses deliver goods to customers, domestically or abroad. This behavior looks like price gouging, and it is inflicting serious harm on families and small businesses who have only just barely made it through until now.”
In November 2021, Warnock held a supply chain roundtable on shipping issues with Georgia Carpenters Union Political Director Brett Hulme, Norfolk Southern Railroad’s Group Vice President of International Marketing and Sales D’Andrae Larry, Chief Administrative Officer of the Port of Savannah Jamie McCurry, Kubota Manufacturing of America Vice President Phil Sutton, and Chief Executive Office and Co-Owner Lisa Winton, Winton Machine Company.
You can watch the discussion here: