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Acting Chairman Khouri Delivers Remarks at OCEMA Event

May 26, 2017

Speaking to a group of ocean carrier executives in New Jersey on May 18th, Acting Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission Michael A. Khouri briefed the audience on the next steps the agency will take on regulatory reform and his philosophy in regard to regulating the ocean carrier industry.

During the course of his remarks to the Ocean Carriers Equipment Management Agreement Senior Steering Committee, the Acting Chairman said the Commission will soon be seeking public comment on a variety of deregulatory proposals and expressed hope there will be a vigorous response when a Notice of Inquiry on the FMC Regulatory Reform Initiative is published in the Federal Register.

"Deregulation is THE word in Washington. Since I came to the Commission in January, 2010, I have spoken often about my desire for sensible deregulation – consistent with the statutory requirements of the Shipping Act—that eases compliance burdens or identifies rules that no longer reflect the realities of the business," Mr. Khouri told the audience. "I have with me the draft for our Regulatory Reform Initiative – Notice of Inquiry that will go out to the public shortly to kick off the comment period for this process. I strongly encourage all of you - through your companies’ public affairs departments, through your outside consultants and your trade associations - to provide ideas, comments and suggestions. This will work best where all maritime stakeholders take the time, effort to participate in this initiative."

Mr. Khouri said that pursuing an agenda that leads to commonsense regulatory reform is an important goal and one based on a core philosophy. The Acting Chairman shared that in carrying out his duties, he is guided by three key principles: a respect for the Shipping Act as given to the Commission by Congress; a respect for the free, open, and competitive marketplace; and, being mindful of the impact regulations can have on private parties and the health of the overall economy. It is these three fundamental concepts, Mr. Khouri said, that will guide him in his tenure as Acting Chairman.

"We should not be twisting words and phrases into pretzels with a purpose to broaden the statutory and regulatory scope and footprint of the FMC," Acting Chairman Khouri said. "People always say, ‘get rid of regulations and let the marketplace work!’ until they find themselves in a position where they are not on top of the hill. Then, they say, we need government to come in and issue a regulation so as to achieve a different commercial result. Are certain levels and areas of regulation needed—absolutely. But, how often does government step into the commercial marketplace and then make matters worse? In my view—too often. By ensuring that a free and competitive ocean transportation marketplace is operating effectively, we are thus best serving the American exporters, importers and consumers."

Other topics covered during the Acting Chairman’s remarks included the overall state of the shipping business, work the Commission does to monitor agreements, the regulatory reform initiative the FMC has undertaken, and the status of the Supply Chain Innovation Teams Initiative being led by Commissioner Rebecca Dye.