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Commission Approves Rule Easing Burden on Service Contract Parties

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A final rule adopted by the Federal Maritime Commission today eases certain publication requirements for ocean carriers, providing some of the regulatory relief industry sought via a petition filed at the agency in 2018. The Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking on February 14, 2020, and received two comments.

This new final rule (Docket No. 20-02) amends Commission regulations that govern service contracts, eliminating the requirement that ocean carriers publish their “essential terms” for individual service contracts in a tariff format.

The rule will become available and effective upon its publication in the Federal Register.

Today’s rule implements the Commission’s decision on a petition filed in 2018 by the World Shipping Council (Petition P3-18), a trade association representing ocean carriers, that sought termination of requirements that shipping companies file all service contracts at the FMC and publish essential terms for each contract.  On December 20, 2019, the Commission issued an Order granting in part, and denying in part, the petition.  While refusing to end the requirement that service contracts be filed at the FMC, the agency did agree that abolishing the essential terms publication requirements would provide regulatory relief without endangering competition or commerce.