Terminal operators at the Port of Seattle filed a request with the Federal Maritime Commission to form a discussion agreement that would allow the terminals to jointly discuss operations, facilities, services and other matters in an effort to increase efficiency at the port.
The parties to the agreement are the Port of Seattle, Eagle Marine Services, SSA Terminals, SSA Terminals (Seattle) and Total Terminals International.
In order for the terminals to discuss matters relating to operations, services and cost reductions with immunity from antitrust laws, they must file a formal request with the FMC.
At the core of the request is an effort by the terminal operators to help make Seattle a competitive gateway in an environment of big ships and vessel-operating alliances that control a significant amount of vessel capacity.
“Shipping lines are consolidating into a handful of alliances and investing in larger vessels to reduce costs, which also results in fewer port calls. Many container terminals and shipping lines are experiencing losses,” the terminals stated. “Our aim is a stronger competitive position with regard to ports in Canada, Southern California and those that benefit from the widening of the Panama Canal,” they added.
In line with this goal, the participants in the agreement intend to discuss “all matters relating to any or all of the parties’ past, current or proposed leases at the port, including the rates, terms and conditions in such leases, and the modification, restructuring or revision of such leases,” they stated.
Terminal operators in Oakland face similar conditions, and earlier this year they reached an agreement with the port to combine the adjacent terminals operated by SSA, TTI and Eagle Marine into one facility operated by SSA.