BROKERS, FORWARDERS SEE OSRA BENEFITS, DECRY DISCUSSION AGREEMENTS
The National Customs Forwarders and Brokers Association of America, a major opponent of ocean carriers’ antitrust immunity, told the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission the Ocean Shipping Reform Act “has had a somewhat positive effect on the industry.”
At the same time, the association complained of carriers’ practices under discussion agreements, in comments filed with the FMC.
Rate increases and surcharges seem to cut across all trades, but the problem is particularly acute in the Far East trades, where emergency fuel surcharges and surcharges “are added at the last minute” or long after a rate has been quoted by a carrier, the association said.
“Almost by definition, discussion agreements are intended to create market distortions and the ‘voluntary guidelines’ interfere with a truly competitive marketplace,” the association said.
On the positive side, the association said its members have been able to negotiate more reasonable liquidated damage terms, more appropriate breach of contract terms and to include a broader range of commodities under confidential contracting.
The ability to amend contracts “is a positive benefit under OSRA and gives the various parties more flexibility to meet changing market conditions than was possible previously,” the association said.
Also, the reform law has created an incentive for the growth and development of shippers associations, the NCBFAA said.
The association also urged the FMC to consider eliminating tariff filings by non-vessel-operating common carriers.