Contact: Edward Greenberg @ (202) 342-5200                                      For Immediate Release
Tom Mathers @ (202) 466-0222                                                                      

FMC Asked By NCBFAA to Create Procedures That Address Port Congestion Issues

Washington, DC: In a letter today to Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Mario Cordero, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) asked the FMC to consider procedures addressing port disruptions resulting from unusual occurrences such as major force majeure events or labor-related difficulties. Early last year the NCBFAA requested that Chairman Cordero’s predecessor, Richard Lidinsky, likewise consider procedures to mitigate challenges during maritime labor unrest and severe weather conditions.

Motivated by the possibility of a strike at west coast ports commencing in the near future, the NCBFAA determined to once again petition the FMC for action on this issue. As regards the specific procedures, the NCBFAA recommends that the Commission:

  • Require carriers to develop and publicize their contingency plans concerning how they would provide service for cargoes moving into or out of the various U.S. ports during periods of unusual disruption events.
  • Require carriers and marine terminal operators to amend their demurrage and detention tariffs to exclude any penalty portion of those charges from being assessed during the pendency of those events.
  • Create internal clearing house for information relating to the timing and amounts of congestion-related surcharges that would be available to the public on the FMC's website. “

“We are aware that the Commission did recently issue an advisory to the industry concerning the possibility of port congestion surcharges and when any cargo would be affected by such surcharges,” the letter noted. However, carrier provided tariff publications and announcements in this regard to date have been “so indefinite as to be inconsistent with the Commission's regulations pertaining to the need to provide the public with accurate, reliable and useful information concerning the charges to be assessed.”

In closing, the NCBFAA noted that it “would be willing to work with the Commission, the carriers and any other parties to address the issues raised above.” The Association reiterated its willingness to discuss this further and answer any questions the Chairman might have.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents more than 970 member companies with 110,000 employees in international trade - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), NVOCCs and air cargo agents, serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefing, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.

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