FMC may rule on “talking agreements” soon

High on the agenda for the December 8 session is the FMC’s investigation of Transpacific Stabilization Agreement and the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement

By ·

The future of two of the few remaining ocean carrier cartels may be determined when the Federal Maritime Commission meets this week.

High on the agenda for the December 8 session is the FMC’s investigation of Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) and the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (WTSA). This pair of so-called “talking agreements” are in the eyes of many shippers, vestiges of a bygone era when ocean shipping was virtually unregulated.

“Shippers expressed the opinion that the ocean carriers continued to withhold vessel capacity from the market in a collective effort to raise prices by leveraging access to scarce capacity and equipment, said FMC commissioner Rebecca F. Dye last month. Speaking at the Northeast Cargo Symposium, she also noted that shippers reported that their service contracts did not protect them from numerous rate and surcharge increases.

“Their service contracts also did not provide the volume forecasting specificity necessary to assure them of vessel space and equipment,” said Dye.

Shortly before stepping down as chairman of the National Industrial Transportation League’s ocean committee, Michael Berzon told LM that Carriers can raise rates in lockstep now, without any concern that such behavior represents a violation of anti-trust laws.”

That may be in question, however, once the FMC concludes its hearing.

Last June, the FMC adopted the recommendations of Dye’s interim report, and took action in several areas to provide positive changes in U.S. ocean transportation. The Commission also voted to increase oversight of the TSA and WTSA by requiring verbatim transcripts of certain Agreement meetings.

For its part, TSA Executive Administrator Brian Conrad said carriers have experienced steadily rising costs in the areas of labor, container-handling, inland transportation and equipment purchasing and leasing.

Conrad also noted that vessel capacity in the trans-Pacific increased 18.6 percent, with 15 new and restored services, including three new operators on the Pacific.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Container · Shipping · Transportation · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Just Released: Understanding Hazmat Transportation Management
The rules and regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials (hazmat) are complex.
Download Today!
From the July 2017 Logistics Management Issue
E-commerce continues to fuel a boom that’s tempered by overcapacity, rate pressures, sluggish demand and political doubt. The result: “cognitive dissonance” that finds a $1.4 trillion market scratching its head.
2017 Truckload Brokerage Roundtable: Technology continues to connect the dots
Cloud Transportation Management Systems (TMS): Weis Markets streamlines “both sides” of the DC door
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
28th Annual State of Logistics: Into the great unknown
E-commerce continues to fuel a boom that’s tempered by overcapacity, rate pressures, sluggish...
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...

The Evolution of the Digital Supply Chain
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management,...
2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...