The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission wants to modernize regulations for non-vessel-operating common carrier and ocean freight forwarder licensing, registration, and proof of financial responsibility, FMC Chairman Richard A. Lidinsky Jr. told the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America’s conference on April 24.
“I want to hear from you because right now we are at a key moment for regulation of NVOCCs. In the coming months, the FMC will be working to modernize the rules for NVOCCs, from top to bottom,” he said.
The FMC issued a notice of inquiry in mid-April seeking comments on ways to improve its 2005 rules for NVO Service Arrangements (NSAs). The comment period runs through June 18.
In the seven years since NSAs began, Lidinsky said “179 NVOCCs have used NSAs, some quite successfully. But that’s a small portion of our more than 3,500 licensed NVOCCs and 1,100 foreign unlicensed NVOCCs.”
Lidinksy said in the FMC’s request for comments, the agency “flagged an issue that was a subject of debate back in 2005 – whether to allow NVOCCs to jointly enter into NSAs.”
In addition, he also said the FMC “began the process of improving our tariff rate publication exemption for Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRAs).”
The FMC asked for comments on changing NRAs and nearly two dozen were submitted earlier this year. The National Industrial Transportation League said giving the ability to foreign, unlicensed NVOs to enter NRAs “will result in pro-competitive commercial benefits for shippers,” while the NCBFAA said it “believes that the commission should reconsider its approach, eliminate the regulatory aspects of the exemption and truly exempt NVOCC tariff rates from the tariff publication requirements.”
Do shippers benefit more from NVOs filing ocean freight rates in tariffs or memorializing them in NRAs than they would if the requirement did not exist, asked the New York/New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders & Brokers Association. “If that were true, why don’t other countries require this and why aren’t shippers in other countries insisting on such a protection? We suggest that there is no longer a need,” the group said. — Chris Dupin