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Update on Port Congestion Surcharges

December 4, 2014

NR 14-16

The Commission has been advised that the 15 ocean carrier members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement have individually committed to forego imposition of any port congestion surcharges until 2015.

The Federal Maritime Commission has received numerous inquiries regarding congestion surcharges for "labor unrest" as announced in various ocean carriers’ tariff rules required to be published under the Shipping Act and the Commission’s regulations. On November 17, the Commission announced that it was collecting information regarding congestion surcharge rules published in carrier tariffs and undertaking a review. Ocean carriers in the transpacific trades were asked to respond to Commission inquiries into the timing and legal sufficiency of the surcharges, and all carriers timely responded.

During the week of November 24, following the Commission’s inquiries, many carriers announced temporary suspension of the surcharge.

Chairman Mario Cordero stated:

"I welcome the individual commitments of the ocean carriers to postpone port congestion surcharges into 2015. During this time, Commission staff will further address with the carriers our concerns for the lawfulness, fairness, and adequacy of notice of implementation. The carriers’ commitment to defer the congestion surcharge offers the opportunity to continue this important dialogue and pursue greater transparency as to the timing and the need for future carrier surcharges. The monitoring by Commission staff of port congestion and related surcharges will continue."

Shippers and other affected parties are invited to submit any updates as to congestion surcharges or recent shipper advisories received from carriers to the Bureau of Trade Analysis at: tradeanalysis@fmc.gov.