FMC Eyes Filing Exemption

FMC Eyes Filing Exemption

Non-vessel-operating common carriers may get long-sought relief from mandatory tariff filing requirements if the Federal Maritime Commission grants them an exemption at its public meeting next week.

The commission put on its Feb. 10 agenda a petition by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America to exempt NVOs from maintaining public tariffs as required under Section 8 of the Shipping Act.

In December 2004 the FMC gave NVOs the authority to enter into service arrangementsbut kept the tariff-filing requirement for NVOs that chose not to enter into contracts with customers.

NCBFAA was among NVO petitioners that began agitating for service contracting authority in 2003. The association argued that tariff filing was a financial burden on NVOs, and unnecessary because most cargo moved under contract. In early 2005 the FMC rejected the NCBFAA bid, but in August 2008 the group petitioned again.

Next week’s meeting marks the first time commissioners will discuss a blanket exemption in public. Edward Greenberg, NCBFAA’s general and transportation counsel, said he was unsure what the commission would do. In January, the FMC briefly reopened the docket to give NVOs an opportunity to provide additional data on the cost of maintaining public tariffs.