SHIP AGENCY CARRIES BIG STICK

SHIP AGENCY CARRIES BIG STICK

The Federal Maritime Commission's recent disciplinary actions against ocean carriers in the North Atlantic and its rule-making procedures involving Taiwan and Peru demonstrate a continued get-tough approach to enforcing the nation's maritime laws.

Commissioner Francis J. Ivancie told the annual meeting of the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association the FMC will continue to be enforcement-oriented and proactive in its quest to achieve fairness in shipping.Mr. Ivancie noted that in fiscal year 1987 the FMC collected more than $3 million in fines - a 650 percent increase over the previous year.

Our enforcement policy is so forthright that in some cases we have even pierced the corporate veil and imposed liability directly on some officials of corporations, the commissioner said.

In the North Atlantic trades, the FMC last July signed an agreement with 13 carriers, granting them amnesty in exchange for information on possible illegal rebating. The carriers paid the commission $2 million and set up a neutral policing body to oversee the trade.

The commission's enforcement activities in the trans-Atlantic trades will be extensive and continuous, Mr. Ivancie said, adding that the FMC will be monitoring those carriers that signed the amnesty agreement as well as carriers that were not party to the agreement.

Under Section 19 of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act, the commission has authority to take corrective action in response to unfavorable conditions involving U.S. maritime companies in foreign countries. The FMC has recorded some recent successes under Section 19.

The commission last December issued a notice of proposed rule-making against Taiwan. That country restricted U.S. carrier operation of dockside equipment and facilities. Taiwan also placed restrictions on the ability of U.S. carriers to obtain container terminal licenses.

The proposed FMC rule would have retaliated by suspending the tariffs of Taiwan-flag carriers serving U.S. ports.

After we issued the proposed rule, the Taiwanese authorities began to act more reasonably to our American carriers. And it now appears that the two items which were unfairly restricting our carriers' ability to compete in the U.S.-Taiwan trade have been substantially removed, Mr. Ivancie said.

In another case, the commission issued a final rule suspending the tariffs of certain Peruvian-flag carriers in the U.S. trade. Peru has since rescinded a decree judged to constitute unfair trade practice, and the FMC is reconsidering its rule against Peru.

The commission is also scrutinizing marine terminal and stevedoring operations in this country. The FMC Fact Finding Investigation No. 17 was initiated in response to the increasingly blurred distinction between stevedores and marine terminal operators at container facilities.