The US Federal Maritime Commission’s vessel-operating common carrier (VOCC) audit program is expanding its scope to now evaluate how shipping lines are serving US export shippers.
Eleven ocean carriers have been asked to share information about the export services they offer American shippers.
“The FMC’s expanded ocean carrier audit program will provide better visibility into which ocean carriers work well with US exporters and, more importantly, which ocean carriers can and should do more to support exporters,” said FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei. “If the shipping companies continue the cooperative attitude they have by and large shown the audit team to date, I am confident we can make progress on some of the issues that have frustrated exporters. That said, the Commission is committed to an ocean transportation system that serves exporters as well as importers and I will not rule out any action within the bounds of the law that helps us achieve that goal.”
Also this week, the FMC’s Bureau of Enforcement (BoE) is initiating an examination of the conduct of five independent container ship lines in terms of the service those companies offer American exporters. The five companies do not traditionally operate in US trade lanes but entered the marketplace in response to historically high rates shippers are paying to import cargo to America.
“All ocean carriers calling the United States have an equal obligation to conduct themselves in accordance with the law. New entrants to the market – including the so-called pop-up carriers – have all the same responsibilities as companies that have served the US trades for decades. We are especially interested in how the identified companies plan to serve the US export market and how those business models comply with requirements under statute,” said Chairman Maffei.
The five carriers have been asked to provide specific information related to vessel calls they have made to the US since June 2021, including the number of loaded and empty containers carried on a ship’s return journey to Asia. The BoE will assess responses to determine if further actions are warranted.