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Commission Grants Controlled Carrier Petition; Issues Final Rule Allowing Optional Bonds; and Invites Comment on Chinese Trade Conditions, issued March 31, 2004

March 31, 2004

Federal Maritime Commission
Washington, D.C. 20573 

NR 04-07

Commission Grants Controlled Carrier Petitions; Issues Final Rule Allowing Optional Bonds; and Invites Comment on Chinese Trade Conditions

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

FOR RELEASE: March 31, 2004

The Commission today granted the petitions of three Chinese controlled carriers for relief from the 30-day waiting requirement for reduction of tariff rates of the Controlled Carrier Act (Petition Nos. P3-99, P4-03 and P6-03). Although the Commission found the request of two of the carriers that the relief be made "permanent" inconsistent with the Shipping Act, it noted that, as the relief is granted without time limit or expiration, it will provide stability and predictability for the carriers' operations.

The Commission also issued a Final Rule amending its rules governing Financial Responsibility for Ocean Transportation Intermediaries to permit licensed NVOCCs, at their option, to file proof of additional financial responsibility as an alternative to meet a Chinese requirement for deposit of at least $96,000 in a Chinese bank, for NVOCCs operating in China. The optional procedure was requested by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. ("NCBFAA") in Petition No. P10-03. The Commission received three comments in support of its proposed rule, published on January 29, 2004. Based on the optional nature of the rule and its remedial purpose, the Commission found good cause to waive the usual 30-day waiting period for effectiveness of a Final Rule. The Final Rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

The Commission considered its proceeding in Docket No. 98-14 - Shipping Restrictions, Requirements and Practices of the People's Republic of China, initiated to gather information concerning potentially restrictive practices of the Government of the People's Republic of China affecting the U.S./China shipping trade. In light of the bilateral Maritime Agreement between the U.S. and China signed on December 8, 2003, the Commission today issued a Notice of Inquiry requesting comments from participants in the trade on the degree to which the conditions addressed in the Commission's proceeding have been ameliorated and whether the proceeding should be discontinued. The Commission will accept comments until June 1, 2004. FMC Chairman Steven R. Blust remarked: "We hope to hear from U.S. ocean common carriers and NVOCCs that it is now possible for them to do business in China without undue burdens, in the cooperative spirit of the new U.S.-China bilateral Maritime Agreement."