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The Commission Announces Results From Its November 19, 2003 Meeting

November 20, 2003

Federal Maritime Commission


THE COMMISSION ANNOUNCES RESULTS FROM ITS 
NOVEMBER 19, 2003 MEETING


Washington, D.C. 20573


NR 03-10



CONTACT: BRYANT L. VANBRAKLE, SECRETARY (202) 523-5725


FOR RELEASE: NOVEMBER 20, 2003


The Federal Maritime Commission met on Wednesday, November 19, 2003, and determined to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPR") to amend the Commission's regulations at 46 C.F.R. Part 535, that govern agreements among ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators. The Commission took this action in response to industry requests for clarification and changes in the shipping industry since the enactment of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, which amended the Shipping Act of 1984.

 

The NPR proposes to make numerous changes to update and clarify the Commission's regulations governing the content of agreements subject to the Shipping Act, as well as changes to the minutes and Information and Monitoring Report filing requirements. Included among the proposed changes to the agreement content provisions is new language designed to ensure that the Commission receives complete agreements, language creating a low market share exemption from the 45-day waiting period, and language that clarifies the definitions of transshipment agreements and nonexclusive transshipment agreements.

 

The NPR also would modify the Information Form and Monitoring Report regulations in Part 535 to reflect changes in the amount and type of data the Commission deems necessary to monitor carriers' use of their antitrust immunity. The Commission also proposes to revise its agreement regulations regarding the filing of agreement minutes. The modifications to the minutes filing provisions are intended to preclude inadequate coverage of substantive issues, as well as insufficient levels of detail concerning carrier discussions. The proposal also clarifies the Commission's regulations on meetings for which minutes are required to be filed and provides for effective Commission access to materials used or discussed in such meetings.

 

The NPR will be publicly released no later than Monday, November 24, 2003, and invites oral or written comments on or before January 30, 2004.

 

Chairman Blust remarked that "the NPR is intended to reduce the overall burden and cost to ocean common carriers while ensuring that the Commission receives the information necessary to conduct effective oversight. The proposed rule would give the shipping industry enhanced certainty as to FMC requirements, continued flexibility in commercial relations and sufficient confidentiality for commercial information. I look forward to receiving comments to assist the Commission in implementing an appropriate final rule."