SHIPPING ACT SURVEYS BRING FEW SURPRISES

SHIPPING ACT SURVEYS BRING FEW SURPRISES

Surveys taken by the Federal Maritime Commission to assess the views of the maritime community toward the Shipping Act of 1984 contain very few surprises.

Surveys of ocean carriers, shippers, ports and terminal operators concluded that carriers strongly favor continuation of tariff filing with the FMC, shippers generally support the granting of antitrust immunity to shippers councils and ports and terminal operators overwhelmingly want to maintain their antitrust immunity.Robert Ellsworth, director of the FMC's bureau of economic analysis, presented the findings Thursday at a conference sponsored by the University of Southern California and the commission.

The FMC took these surveys in 1986 and 1987, as mandated by Section 18 of the 1984 law. The data the FMC is collecting will be used in a report to Congress scheduled to be completed in 1990. Another survey will be taken this year.

Specifically, the FMC found that about 95 percent of the ocean carriers surveyed support the present system of filing tariff rates with the commission and having it monitor those rates.

In contrast, only about 50 percent of the shippers surveyed support the current tariff-filing system. More than 80 percent of the ports and terminal operators would like to maintain the current system.

On the issue of preserving antitrust immunity for ports and terminal operators, those groups voted almost unanimously to maintain their ability to meet and discuss the services they offer.

Likewise, ocean carriers generally support the preservation of antitrust immunity for ports and terminal operators, while 40 percent of the shippers surveyed had no opinion on the subject.

The FMC survey also asked the question, Should shipping conferences be prohibited? As expected, almost 95 percent of the carriers said the rate- making groups should not be prohibited. Also, as expected, only about half of the shippers surveyed support shipping conferences. The terminal operators also were evenly divided in their support of the conferences.

However, upwards of 80 percent of the ports surveyed feel that the conference system should be maintained.

The issue of granting antitrust immunity to shippers councils did not generate a very enthusiastic response. Only about 40 percent of the shippers surveyed supported this immunity for the councils.