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FMC Concludes Last Step in Compromise Plan in Japan Port Dispute

November 20, 1997

FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION

FMC Concludes Last Step in Compromise Plan
in Japan Port Dispute

NR 97-21

Washington, D.C. 20573

FOR RELEASE NOVEMBER 20, 1997

The Federal Maritime Commission announced today that it has formalized the final step of a settlement plan agreed to in October in its Japan port practices proceeding. The Commission and Japanese carriers yesterday executed a compromise agreement whereby the Commission -- in recognition of the substantial sums already paid by the carriers in this case, and the recent signing of comprehensive port reform accords by government and industry leaders -- will not collect further fees assessed on Japanese shipping lines in October and November of this year.

FMC Chairman Harold J. Creel, Jr. explained that the compromise of the October and November levies was anticipated by the Commission when it accepted, on October 27, 1997, $1.5 million in settlement of fees assessed during the month of September. "What made yesterday's action possible was the prompt ratification of all documents agreed to by U.S. and Japanese negotiators. This was the major consideration needed to conclude this last step of the process," he stated. The compromise plan was backed by senior officials from the Departments of State and Transportation.

The Commission last week suspended the effectiveness of its final rule in Docket No. 96-20, Port Restrictions and Requirements in the United States/Japan Trade, also in response to the full ratification of the agreements to reform Japanese port practices, and to recommendations by U.S. negotiators. While the agency proceeding remains open, no further assessments or other sanctions against the Japanese vessels are being made, and all previously assessed fees have been compromised.

"While the Commission retains its authority to act in this matter should events so warrant, I am heartened and encouraged by the progress achieved in recent weeks, and am optimistic that the necessary reforms will be implemented to remove these impediments to fair trade," Chairman Creel stated.

Documents from Docket No. 96-20, as well as Commission decisions in other recent proceedings, are available online in the Commission's electronic reading room. To access these materials, first go to the Commission's home page (www.fmc.gov), choose "Public Information Available from FMC," select "Electronic Reading Room," then pick the type of document you wish to view.