Ocean cargo/global logistics: FMC Scrutinizes Carrier Rates and Capacity

As the Federal Maritime Commission ramps up its investigation of ocean carrier price-fixing, it is also keeping a vigilant watch on capacity and equipment shortages.

By ·

As the Federal Maritime Commission ramps up its investigation of ocean carrier price-fixing, it is also keeping a vigilant watch on capacity and equipment shortages.
In a speech given before the Virginia Maritime Association last month, FMC commissioner Michael Khouri noted that U.S. exporters of agricultural products are particularly exercised about the impact of capacity limitation, equipment unavailability and rate increases on their ability to compete internationally.

“The capacity, equipment availability and rate increase issues and their impact on U.S. shippers are of great concern to the FMC,” said Khouri. “Last March, the Commissioners voted to initiate a Non-Adjudicatory Fact Finding Investigation into the current conditions concerning vessel and equipment availability in the U.S. export and import liner trades.”

Meanwhile, Khouri and his colleagues are concentrating on rate inflation too.

“Recent reports of increases in annual transpacific contract rates have heightened shipper concerns that these rate hikes are facilitated by carriers using, first, their legal authority to discuss voluntary general rate guidelines with, second, discussions to agree on capacity restriction,” he said. “The first discussion would be legal under the Shipping Act. The second discussions — if they occurred — would be outside of the Shipping Act purview and would therefore be a violation of the Sherman Act.”
While the FMC’s Fact Finding is not focused on the vessel operator’s antitrust immunity, the Commission is mindful of these concerns and plans to closely monitor the carriers’ collective activities. If there is any indication that capacity issues and higher freight rates are credibly linked to any improper use of antitrust immunity by foreign-flag or U.S. flag liner carriers, the Commission will take action, said Khouri. He said shippers may also see renewed attention by Congress and the Administration.


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

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Lead your organization through the driver shortage and over-the-road regulations.
Potential transportation disruptions are looming as increased over-the-road regulations are set to go into effect in 2017. Experts believe these regulations will further impact the already challenged driver pool as well as reduce driver productivity.
Download Today!
From the January 2017 Issue
Following LM tradition, we start off the New Year with our annual “Rate Outlook” cover story and subsequent Webcast
Moore on Pricing: The other TMS functional options
2017 Rate Outlook: Where are freight transportation rates headed?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2017 Rate Outlook: Where are freight transportation rates headed?
Join our panel of top oil and transportation analysts for an exclusive look at where rates are headed and the issues driving those rate increases over the coming year.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...

Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...
Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....