FMC building case for new container data-sharing rules

WASHINGTON — The Federal Maritime Commission is seeking another round of comments from container line operators and their customers as part of its quest to build the case for potential new mandates on container shipment data sharing.

The FMC wants to supplement an information request issued last year along with a May 2023 report on the agency’s Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI). That project, led by Commissioner Carl Bentzel, attempts to measure the extent to which shipment data is...

FMC fears glut of container fee disputes after Baltimore bridge collapse

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are bracing for disputes over container fees caused by routing cancellations in the wake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

Shortly after the collapse early on March 26 that closed the Port of Baltimore, MSC, the world’s largest ocean carrier, advised customers that containers en route to the port would be diverted for unloading at alternate U.S. East Coast ports, and that the carriage contract would be declared terminated at the alternate port instead of...

House lawmakers crack down on Chinese ocean freight data

WASHINGTON — House lawmakers have passed a bill giving regulators new power to investigate potential violations of the law by the producer of one of the most closely watched container freight indexes.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act of 2023, which passed the chamber on Thursday by a vote of 393-24, targets China’s Shanghai Shipping Exchange (SSE). SSE publishes the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index, an aggregator of spot market data on which container freight rates in the...

Are drayage truckers getting off easy under FMC’s new billing rule?

Federal regulators have relieved drayage truckers from late-fee bills associated with picking up and returning cargo containers, while inadvertently — and unfairly — shifting the burden onto shippers, a major shipper group contends.

The Federal Maritime Commission’s rule on demurrage and detention, issued last week, imposed new billing standards on ocean carriers and terminal operators in an effort to crack down on abusive container late fees, often to truckers as well as shippers.

But a...

FMC tightens rules on charging container late fees

The Federal Maritime Commission has imposed new billing standards on ocean carriers and terminal operators in an effort to crack down on abusive container late fees.

The new requirements focus on demurrage — fees charged by carriers and container terminals when full containers have not been picked up by customers within a certain number of days — and detention, the fees charged to customers if they are late returning the empty container back to the terminal.

Starting May 26, container ship...

Ocean carriers warn FMC against regulating prices

WASHINGTON — Revisions made to a proposed rule aimed at curbing the ability of container ship carriers to refuse to provide vessel space to their customers has delved into the dangerous area of price regulation, according to the carriers.

In a rulemaking proposed last year, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission attempted to define what is an “unreasonable refusal to deal or negotiate” the vessel space that carriers provide for their customers’ containers.

After both carriers and shippers took issue

Ocean carriers: Keep rail storage fee disputes at STB

WASHINGTON — Confusion over which federal agency has the power to resolve disputes over fees charged by railroads to store ocean containers will only get worse if Congress follows the advice of the shippers getting hit by the fees, ocean carriers contend.

A coalition of 75 shipper groups — led by the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, the National Industrial Transportation League, and the National Retail Federation — appealed this week to lawmakers to clarify that...

Inflation triggers major user fee increases at FMC

WASHINGTON — The Federal Maritime Commission is raising its user fees as high as 650% over current rates to account for higher costs related to staff salaries, inflation and an electronic filing upgrade.

The FMC acknowledged the increases in a Federal Register notice posted Tuesday, noting that when it last updated user fees in 2020 (when many of its fees were adjusted downward or raised slightly), the agency used FY2019 cost data, including 2019 staff salaries.

Ocean Transportation Intermediary...

New FMC rule expands shippers’ eligibility for carrier refunds

WASHINGTON — A new rule requiring ocean carriers to refund importers and exporters for illegal overcharges and potentially for other violations of the U.S. Shipping Act will go into effect next month.

The changes, set out in a final rule scheduled to be published by the Federal Maritime Commission on Monday, are in the form of amendments to the FMC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure governing the assessment and collection of civil penalties. They codify provisions included in the Ocean Shipping...

FMC proposes tighter container billing standards

Container trucking at Port of Houston.

Ocean carriers and marine terminals would be subject to stricter — and potentially costlier — billing requirements when they charge shippers for late containers under a proposal by the Federal Maritime Commission.

The FMC’s 58-page proposed rule on demurrage and detention billing requirements, scheduled to be posted in the Federal Register next week, “seeks to bring more clarity, structure, and punctuality” to the billing practices of vessel operating common carriers (VOCCs),...

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