U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner Doyle spoke to the Global Shippers Forum in Los Angeles and discussed Ro/Ro price fixing matters; the newly approved cooperation agreement between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma; the first PVO company to take advantage of the alternative bonding mechanisms; China VAT; Commission's 6 (g) Analysis, and the Suez/Panama Canal routes. Extracts from the Commissioner's address at the Forum follow:
FMC Allows Port of Seattle/Port of Tacoma Discussion Agreement to Proceed
This past week the Commission unanimously voted to effectively allow the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to move forward on a cooperative agreement to exchange information and work together to find synergies.
FMC – KPMG conduct China Value Added Tax Maritime Webcast
In August 2013, Bruce Carlton of the National Industrial Transportation League wrote to the Federal Maritime Commission, namely FMC Chairman Mario Cordero, seeking clarity on carriers charging shippers a fee for handling the new Chinese value added tax (VAT). This is an issue that affects not only American companies, but all of you in the room who engage in business with the People’s Republic of China.
At the Commission’s September 2013 meeting, the FMC announced that it would look into ways to obtain further clarity on how China was implementing the tax.
FMC Bureau of Enforcement Activities—Carriers Settling Shipping Act Violations
The Commission’s enforcement bureau has been involved in ongoing investigations in the Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) – car carrier sector. The Bureau has done a good job - and in most cases, Shipping Act violations have been settled through compromise agreements with the operators. It is important for the carrier community to understand that the FMC is not an agency that solely regulates the container trade. Carriers must ensure that they comply with the Shipping Act and this includes properly filing with the Commission their agreements affecting carrier working relationships.
FMC Grants Un-Cruise Adventures First Request to Provide Alternative Financial Responsibility
The Federal Maritime Commission granted the request of InnerSea Discoveries, LLC (InnerSea) dba Un-Cruise Adventures (Un-Cruise), for partial relief from its financial responsibility coverage required to indemnify passengers for nonperformance. This effectively provides Un-Cruise with a reduction in the bonding amount it is required to post (i.e., escrowed) in case of non-performance.
Carrier Alliances: 6 (g) Analysis
As you know, there are carrier alliance operational agreements that are currently before the Commission. These agreements are being reviewed by the Commission.
Panama Canal Expansion
The Panama Canal expansion fits in well with the Obama Administration’s focus on manufacturing, exports, and job creation. The Obama Administration, members of Congress and state and local officials support the tremendous economic, business, job-supporting, energy and transportation related opportunities the expanded Canal will bring to the United States.
The Commissioner's statement in full is available at: http://www.fmc.gov/doyle-remarks-global-shippers/