FMC to Hold Hearings on Port Fees

The Federal Maritime Commission has agreed to hold public hearings on a petition signed by NITL and several other groups that seeks to clarify when and why ocean freight lines and terminal operators can assess demurrage, detention, and per diem charges when ports are congested or otherwise inaccessible.

In December 2016, the League and 25 other trade associations—known collectively as the Coalition for Fair Port Practices—filed a petition with the FMC asking the agency to initiate a rulemaking proceeding “to clarify what constitutes `just and reasonable rules and practices’ with respect to the assessment of demurrage, detention, and per diem charges by ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators when ports are congested or otherwise inaccessible.”

Today, the FMC met in open session to receive updates on supply chain innovation teams, London International Shipping Week, and the agreement review process. The commission then went into closed session for a briefing about the many comments submitted in response to the coalition’s petition. The commission agreed that, given the wide range of port business practices disclosed by the comments, a public hearing was indicated.

“We are delighted to see the FMC’s consideration of the petition brought forth by the Coalition for Fair Port Practices, and are especially pleased to see that the agency will hold hearings to hear directly from affected stakeholders,” said NITL Executive Director Jennifer Hedrick. “NITL is joined in the coalition by over 20 associations, collectively representing hundreds of shippers and transportation providers who seek fair detention and demurrage practices at our nation’s ports. We look forward to working with the FMC and others to pursue workable resolutions to issues that have created penalties for beneficial cargo owners due to delays and disruptions outside of their control.”

Trade and shipper associations, individual importers and exporters, customs brokers, freight forwarders, logistics companies, trucking and drayage companies, ocean carriers, port authorities, marine terminal operators, and other stakeholders will be invited to testify at the hearings. Hearing details will be published as soon as arrangements are finalized.