Elaine Chao, President Reagan's nominee to chair the Federal Maritime

Commission, says she intends to continue her predecessor's emphasis on agency enforcement initiatives.

She also believes a provision in the omnibus trade bill to increase the

commission's powers to investigate and answer unfair maritime practices, if enacted, will enhance the agency's arsenal of tools to combat unfair foreign trade practices.I will enthusiastically pursue and enforce the trade law, she continued during herconfirmation hearing Monday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

It was a brief, friendly session, with the senators present indicating that Ms. Chao, 35, will have no problems gaining Senate approval.

If confirmed, the current deputy maritime administrator will fill the unexpired term of the late Edward V. Hickey Jr., who died in mid-January. The terms ends June 30, 1991. Ms. Chao said she will do her best to see that Mr. Hickey's legacy is further enhanced during my tenure.

One of her first acts in her new post, she said, will be to fully familiarize myself with the commission's efforts to automate its tariff-filing system. The

commission intends to convert its current hard-copy tariff-filing system to an electronic format late next year.

I am aware of the importance of this matter and its significant impact upon the industry, and I intend to devote my personal attention to it, Ms. Chao said.

In connection with tariff filing in general and the commission's pending five-year review of the impact of the 1984 Shipping Act, she said the agency would find it very difficult to carry out its enforcement responsibilities if tariffs were abolished.

Ms. Chao commented, I believe it important that the commission in its actions and interpretations continue to preserve the balance between shipper and carrier interests as mandated in the 1984 act.

She also stressed that the agency must continue efforts to maintain an equitable operating environment in the U.S. ocean trades.

By aggressively pursuing a fair and credible enforcement program, she concluded, the commission would demonstrate its commitment to and have a positive effect on the foreign commerce of the U.S.