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FMC Approves Issuance of Tariff and Service Contract Proposed Rules Implementing OSRA

December 9, 1999

FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION

FMC APPROVES ISSUANCE OF TARIFF
AND SERVICE CONTRACT PROPOSED RULES
IMPLEMENTING OSRA

NR 98-13

Washington, D.C. 20573


CONTACT: JOSEPH C. POLKING, SECRETARY at (202) 523-5725

FOR RELEASE: December 9, 1998

The Commission today considered and approved the publication of two additional proposed rulemakings to be undertaken implementing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 ("OSRA"). A third proposal which had been approved at the Commission meeting of December 2, 1998, except for one aspect, also was finalized.

The two proposals adopted are:

(1) Carrier Automated Tariff Systems. Proposed rules would govern the publication of tariffs in automated systems by common carriers and conferences. Prior to using tariffs, carriers and conferences must provide basic information to the Commission, including where their tariffs will be located. The Commission intends to publish a list of locations of such tariffs on its web page. The proposed rule sets forth general requirements as to what must be included in tariff publications, but does not prescribe a particular design or structure. All tariffs must contain: an organization record, a tariff record, and tariff rules, and commodity tariffs must also contain commodity descriptions and tariff rate items. If rules concerning certain specified subjects are adopted, they must use specified titles. Commodities should be designated with unique, 10-digit codes. In addition, tariffs should use standard terminology codes, wherever appropriate. Retrievers will be able to obtain information from tariffs by using certain search mechanisms and will be able to receive a calculated basic ocean freight, plus all applicable assessorials. Retrievers should be able to access tariffs, using a personal computer, by a dial-up connection or using the internet. Tariff data must be maintained for 5 years, on-line; and tariffs must possess an access date capability.

(2) Service Contracts. Proposed rules would establish new requirements for service contracts filing and essential terms publication, revise regulations to include the newly permitted agreement and multiple shipper-party, service contracts and make other conforming changes. The Commission is also proposing an electronic filing system for service contracts to reduce the filing burden on parties and accommodate the efficient processing and review of what is predicted to be a large number of filed contracts. Views were also solicited on global contracting; contracts involving mixes of excepted and non-excepted cargoes; and inland portions of through movements to Europe.

The third proposal considered was:

(3) Ocean Transportation Intermediaries ("OTI"). Proposed rules would address requirements for licensing of OTI's operating in the United States and requirements for all OTI's to establish financial responsibility before performing intermediary services in the United States, and would address duties and responsibilities imposed on OTI's, including specifics regarding "in-plant" arrangements and electronic data interchange. This proposal will include options as to the definition of "in the United States" as it affects applicability of licensing requirements.

Chairman Harold Creel stated, "I am pleased that our proposals appear to meet Congress' objective of minimizing government intrusion while providing necessary protections to the public. However, I strongly encourage interested parties, in their comments, to suggest in detail ways in which we can improve our proposals while complying with our carefully balanced statutory mandate."

The Commission also announced that some delay in Federal Register publication of the proposed rules is anticipated because of the time required to prepare for submission to OMB of burden estimates related to reporting, record keeping and disclosure requirements of the rules. Accordingly, unofficial texts of approved proposed rule documents will be made available to the public prior to forwarding the rules to the Federal Register, in order to maximize public exposure to the proposals so as to allow more time for preparation of comments. Unofficial texts may be found in the next few days at the FMC website at www.fmc.gov. (Click on "Public Information (FOIA)," and then "EFOIA Electronic Reading Room," and then "Rules," and finally "Proposed Rules.")