Statement from Commissioner Maffei regarding Amendment to the West Coast Marine Terminal Operator Agreement
Commissioner Maffei participated in a unanimous vote to seek additional information regarding the most recent amendment to the West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Agreement (“WCMTOA”) (FMC Agreement No. 201143).
Today, I voted to issue a request for more information regarding the proposed amendment to WCMTOA. I commend the parties for engaging stakeholders and developing a proposal that would seek to mitigate traffic and address ongoing congestion in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. I also appreciate the efforts being made to make the appointment system and collection of fees efficient and accessible to all users.
Many stakeholders are understandably dissatisfied with the current system and have waited a long time for changes. Therefore, I would not support any delay in implementation of the amendment unless I truly felt that the FMC could not fulfill its responsibility under the Shipping Act without additional information.
Under the Shipping Act, the FMC has the responsibility to ensure this amendment and its effect on the overall agreement will not have an anticompetitive impact on the industry and its stakeholders by causing an unreasonable reduction in transportation service or an unreasonable increase in transportation cost. In this case, while there may be potential benefits to a common appointment system, standard operational rules, and other jointly negotiated processes, it is as yet unclear why there must be anticompetitive price fixing across all terminal operators at the LA/LB port complex in order to accomplish these goals. For this reason, I voted to request additional information from the parties so that the FMC can better understand the justification for the parties’ contention that an appointment system and other improvements cannot be made without price fixing.
Daniel B. Maffei is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.