The Federal Maritime Commission reversed a 22-year-old policy and will now require a waiting period of 45 days before marine terminal agreements go into effect. The change is effective Dec. 10.
The change in regulation rescinds an exemption to the Shipping Act, which requires the waiting period.
The commission said it found agreements “cause anticompetitive consequences that the Commission deemed unlikely when it first adopted the exemption in 1987.”
Since then, marine terminal agreements had evolved from simple landlord-tenant agreements with port authorities, the commission said, and some operators had used the exemption “to collectively adopt policies procedures and regulations affecting the shipping industry.”
The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America and the National Industrial Transportation League supported the FMC’s decision, saying that without the waiting period operators acquired instant antitrust immunity, which could lead to anticompetitive activity affecting the shipping industry.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach objected, saying that the commission’s action was an ad hoc move specifically intended to disrupt terminal agreements drawn up to implement the ports’ clean truck program.
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