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Preparing and Filing Ocean Common Carrier and Marine Terminal Agreements

What Information Should Be Included in an Agreement?

Any agreement should contain clear and specific regarding what the parties to the agreement will be doing under the agreement’s authority. Agreements must be filed with the Commission in order to qualify for exemption from antitrust laws under 46 U.S.C. 40307 and are made available to the public.

At a minimum, an agreement must include:

  • The parties to an agreement. Only VOCCs and MTOs are covered by 46 U.S.C. 40307. The agreement should state that any party to an agreement that is not a VOCC or MTO understands that they participate in the agreement with the knowledge that exemption from antitrust laws does not extend to those entities.
  • The planned activities under the agreement – Agreements should not include vague or indefinite language.
  • Authority – For space sharing agreements, such as space charter or vessel sharing agreements, the agreement should state the amount of space to be purchased or exchanged, and the service string on which that space is being made available, if applicable. If the agreement authorizes discussions, it should be clear as to what those discussions will include and describe any program to be developed under the agreement.
  • Geographic scope – The agreement should state the geographic scope by country. For example, if the agreement is a space charter agreement for a service string that operates with a port rotation of Ningbo – Busan – Oakland, the geographic scope would be China, South Korea, and the U.S. Pacific Coast.
  • Cargo type – Agreements should indicate wherever possible what type of cargo is being carried or discussed under the agreement.

What Documents Do I Need?

New Agreements

Transmittal letter: the transmittal letter should provide the name of the agreement, list all documents being provided to the Commission, list the parties to the agreement, and briefly describe the intent of the agreement or amendment.

Agreement: the agreement itself should be filed as a PDF document. Agreements can be signed in hard copy and scanned or can include digital signatures.

Information Form: depending on the nature of the agreement. For more information on what specific information is required, please reference the federal regulations governing agreement filing at 46 § 535 Subpart E.

Additional documentation can be included if the parties believe it will assist the Commission in its review of the agreement filing.

Amendments to existing agreements

A complete copy of the agreement, as amended.

A marked copy: a redline version of those parts of the agreement being updated as a PDF document.

How Do I File an Agreement With the FMC?

All agreements should be filed through the FMC’s electronic agreement filing application.

To request an account for this system, or for any additional information on FMC-filed agreements, please email tradeanalysis@fmc.gov.