February 4, 2004
Volume 8, Number 02
Oakland, California

SIGNALS™ provides detailed information on the regulations and activities of the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), and related developments in the ocean freight industry. For past issues, please consult our index.

 FMC Prepares to Act on China Issues

The FMC Commissioners met January 21st to discuss China-US trade issues. The Commission discussed long pending petitions filed by Chinese controlled carriers China Ocean Shipping Company, China Shipping Container Lines Co., Ltd. and SINOTRANS Container Lines Co., Ltd. The petitions seek exemption from the 30-day waiting period required for controlled carriers to revise rates in their tariffs. The Commission has recently been urged by the U.S. Maritime Administrator and the Under Secretary of State for Business, Economics and Agricultural Affairs to grant the Chinese Carriers these exemptions. These exemptions are a key part of the recently signed U.S.-China bilateral Maritime Agreement. The FMC will accept comments until February 23, after which a meeting will be scheduled for further discussion of the petitions. Chairman Blust said in a press release that he looks "forward to the swift conclusion of these proceedings."

Also at the Jan. 21 meeting, the FMC decided to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled Optional Rider for Proof of Additional NVOCC Financial Responsibility. The NPR was issued as part of FMC Docket No. 04-02, and it is in response Petition No. 10-03 filed by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc which sought a rulemaking to allow NVOCCs to increase bond amounts in order to meet Chinese requirements of financial responsibility. China requires NVOCCS to deposit of $96,000 in a Chinese bank as a condition of its licensing requirements. However, an FMC bond for this amount will soon be allowed to take the place of such a deposit. The Commission hopes that this proposed rulemaking will "make it less burdensome for NVOCCs to do business in China."

The Commission decided not to discuss Docket No. 98-14: Shipping Restrictions, Requirements and Practices of the People’s Republic of China. It will be discussed at a later date, when more information is available regarding the anticipated changing conditions resulting form the new U.S.-China Agreement.

 Amy W. Larson Appointed FMC General Counsel

FMC Chairman Blust recently appointed Amy W. Larson to the position General Counsel. Larson joined the FMC in 1993 as an attorney in the Office of the Secretary. In 1996 she began working with the General Counsel and has served as liaison to Congress as Acting Legislative Counsel, as Acting General Counsel and as special assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Trade Analysis. Prior to her work at the FMC Larson worked in the maritime industry with a major NVO/freight forwarder.

"I have every confidence that she will be a credit to the Commission and, that in her new position as General Counsel, Mrs. Larson will continue her strong working relationship with the ocean shipping community, including our stakeholders, Congress and other federal agencies," said Commissioner Blust. Larson has a law degree from Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, Washington, and D.C. and is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. Larson is originally from Milton, Mass.

 DOT Announces Plan for Safety Inspections of Chassis

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced January 26th, 2004 that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin a safety inspection program for intermodal container chassis. This program will help ensure that trailer beds and chassis used by truckers to haul intermodal cargo containers are safe.

"Every day millions of dollars worth of cargo are transferred from ships and rail from trailer beds and hauled away by trucks," said Secretary Mineta. "It is essential that we have a full and complete safety program focused on the trailer beds used to haul cargo containers."

Chassis provided to truckers by ocean carriers or railroads have not been subject to the same safety review process used for truck operators. The DOT said the new inspection program will be modeled on the safety compliance review program already used by the trucking industry. "Chassis providers will be required to obtain a USDOT number and display it on their chassis so that data could be captured," said the DOT. Penalties for non-compliance will include, revoking DOT numbers when necessary and issuing "out-of-service" orders for unsafe chassis. In the coming weeks, DOT plans to announce a timeline for a notice of proposed rulemaking and more details of the proposed safety plan.

 Irwin Schroeder Joins FMC as Administrative Law Judge

FMC Chairman Steven Blust recently announced that Irwin Schroeder has joined the FMC as an Administrative Law Judge, replacing Judge Frederick Dolan who retired. Judge Schroeder joins the FMC from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission where he served three years as a judge. Before that time he was a judge at the Social Security Administrations in Houston, Texas, and Harford, Connecticut. He earlier served as Regional Counsel and Assistant Chief Counsel for the Federal Highway Administration, as well as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Judge Schroeder is also Vice President of the Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference. Chairman Blust commented that Judge Schroeder’s broad government and legal background will benefit the Commission and those who practice before it.

 Two More NVOCCs Petition FMC for Tariff Exemption & Contracting Authority

The FMC has received two more petitions from NVOCCs requesting exemption from the tariff publication requirements of Section 8 of the US Shipping Act. Petition P1-04 was filed January 28, 2004 on behalf of Danzas Corporation d/b/a Danmar Lines Ltd., Danzas AEI Ocean Services and DHL Danzas Air and Ocean. Petition P2-04   was filed the same day on behalf of BDP International, Inc. Both parties are seeking tariff filing exemptions in order to negotiate individually with clients and enter into confidential contracts.  The FMC received comments but has taken no other action on the petitions of United Parcel Service, Inc.  (UPS, Petition P3-03) and other NVOCCs who seek the same service contract authority the Shipping Act allows only to vessel operating common carriers.  These new Petitions and comments received in response will be posted on the Commission's website index of Active Docket Logs. Copies of these Petitions also may be obtained by sending a request to the FMC Secretary by e-mail: secretary@fmc.gov  or by calling (202) 523-5725.  The deadline for comments is February 13, 2004.

 FMC Relocates Miami Area Representatives

The FMC recently relocated its Miami Area Representatives to Hollywood, FL. This new office is designated as the South Florida Office. New address and contact information are as follows: Federal Maritime Commission, South Florida Area Representative, P.O. Box 813609, Hollywood, FL 33081-3609 Representatives: Andrew Margolis: (954)-963-5362 andrewm@fmc.gov, Eric Mintz: (954)-963-5284 ericom@fmc.gov

     Volume 8  Number 02     February, 2004    

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