FMC closes comments on NVO petitions

FMC closes comments on NVO petitions

WASHINGTON - More than 200 letters poured into the Federal Maritime Commission by Friday's deadline for comments on petitions from four non-vessel-operating common carriers and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America.

United Parcel Service, BAX Global, Ocean World Lines, C.H. Robinson Worldwide and the NCBFAA requested relief from portions of the Shipping Act of 1984, and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. The laws obligate NVOs to maintain tariffs and prohibit them from filing confidential service contracts.

The petition by UPS, which was filed July 25, drew the overwhelming number of comments, including 158 letters from members of Congress in support of the company's bid to file confidential service contracts.

Among the groups that filed comments, the World Shipping Council rejected the NVOs' petitions for not meeting the criteria for exemptions under the Shipping Act.

However, the council said it would not object to an agency rule to consider NCBFAA's suggestion that NVOs could use "range rates" in their tariffs. The NCBFAA's petition also was supported by 26 brokerages and NVOs.

The National Industrial Transportation League said NVOs should be permitted to enter service contracts because of changes in the ocean shipping marketplace. The league said that service contracts between NVOs and shippers should be subject to the same rules for carriers and shippers.

Organized labor was divided on the UPS proposal. The International Longshoremen's Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union opposed UPS, but the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers supported the petition.

Opposition to the UPS petition also came from the Fashion Accessories Shippers Association, saying that Congress did not intend to give NVOs the ability to file service contracts.