FMC demands more price and capacity data from container lines

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Federal regulators are stepping up oversight of shipping carriers by ordering them to submit more comprehensive price and capacity data in an effort to protect against anti-competitive rates and services.

The Federal Maritime Commission announced on Thursday that the three global carrier alliances that dominate global shipping (2M, Ocean and THE), as well as the 10 member companies that participate in them, will now have to begin providing “uniform data to be used for assess shipping carriers”. market behavior and competitiveness.

The new information will give FMC’s Office of Trade Analysis (BTA) insight into individual trade lane pricing by container and type of service.

“The changes are the result of a year-long review by the BTA to determine what data is needed to properly analyze carrier behavior and market trends,” the FMC said. “Under the new requirements, carriers participating in an alliance will be required to submit pricing information for the freight they carry on major trade lanes, and carriers and alliances will be mandated to submit comprehensive information relating to the management of the capacity.

The BTA is responsible for continuously monitoring whether carriers and their alliances are complying with maritime regulations and whether they are having an anti-competitive impact on the market.

The FMC noted that alliances are already subject to the “most frequent and stringent monitoring requirements of any type of agreement” filed with the agency, including detailed operating data, minutes of meetings between alliance members and meetings with alliance members where CMF staff address issues of concern.

“The commission evaluates its reporting requirements on an ongoing basis and adjusts the information it asks shipping lines and alliances to file based on changing circumstances and business practices. Additional changes to the requirements will be released as needed,” the agency said.

Testifying on the agency’s 2023 budget request on Capitol Hill last week, CMF Chairman Daniel Maffei said a large part of the reason for the 5.2% funding increase (1, $8 million) that it seeks for next year is to bolster enforcement staff to handle complaints from ocean carrier customers.

“Aggravated shippers continue to share reports of unsatisfactory service with us — all of which are being reviewed for possible violations of the law,” Maffei said.

“There has been a notable increase in litigation initiated at the commission, both in small claims and in formal complaints before our administrative law judge. Our regional representatives and Bureau of Enforcement staff are pursuing all possible leads to identify potential enforcement actions.

But Maffei also pointed out that the service disruptions and capacity issues experienced by shippers over the past two years aren’t just ocean carrier issues. “Far from moving less cargo, ocean carriers are moving record volumes of containers into the United States,” he said in his testimony.

“The biggest challenge is not getting ocean carriers and seaports to move and process more cargo, but how to address and solve problems in America’s domestic networks and infrastructure that are even more severely limiting the ability to the supply chain. The availability of intermodal equipment, warehouse space, intermodal train service, trucking and sufficient numbers of workers in each of these areas remains a challenge to getting more cargo out of our ports and get them to their destination with more certainty and reliability.

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