The Federal Maritime Commission on Feb. 16 will take up the thorny question of exempting non-vessel-operating common carriers from maintaining published tariffs.
The commission proposed a rule in April 2010 that would lift the Shipping Act’s requirement that NVOs maintain public tariffs. It’s something NVOs have sought since a 2008 petition by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association.
The group argues that keeping tariffs on file is a costly and unnecessary undertaking, since rates that NVOs quote customers may vary by the hour.
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There is no guarantee that the commission will approve the rule. An unresolved question is whether the rule should apply solely to licensed U.S. NVOs, or to foreign NVOs as well.
Commissioner Joseph E. Brennan expresses strong opposition to the rule as bad policy and contrary to the law’s common-carriage principles. He said giving NVOs the exemption would give them an unfair advantage over vessel operators, and effectively exclude them from FMC regulatory oversight.
The commission will meet Wednesday at 10 a.m. in its meeting room at 800 N. Capitol St. in Washington.
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