American Shipper



   Harold Creel, chairman of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, has urged the industry to submit comments to his agency about China’s controversial new law, the “Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on the International Maritime Transportation.”

   Industry comments are due by June 13, as part of a formal “notice of inquiry” published by the FMC in March.

   The new Chinese legislation became effective on Jan. 1. Perceived restrictions on shipping lines, ocean transportation intermediaries and shippers who do business with China caused concern among officials of the U.S. Maritime Administration and industry associations.

   The Maritime Administration met with Chinese authorities in March. In April, a Chinese government delegation traveled to Washington, where it met with FMC staffers to study how the agency operates.

   Creel told the recent Monterey Seminar of the National Industrial Transportation League that he hopes that the Chinese “now go back and work hard on some good implementing rules that will go further to address not only the concerns that the (MarAd) administrator has raised in his discussions with them back in March, but also the concerns that they will receive directly from the industry.”

   Creel said that the new law initially led to a “collective gasp of surprise and shock.”

   The commission has received expressions of concern regarding the new Chinese legislation from several sources. These include the U.S. Government Executive Branch agencies with responsibilities affecting transportation policy and the conduct of negotiations with foreign governments, as well as organizations representing shippers and ocean transportation intermediaries operating or seeking to provide shipping and shipping-related services in the U.S. trade with China.

   The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America stated that “U.S. intermediary and shipper interests will be directly and discriminatorily affected in an adverse manner.”

   The FMC will continue an ongoing proceeding into Chinese restrictions initiated in August 1988. The notice of inquiry into the new Chinese law is now part of the long-running proceeding.

   “In that proceeding we are gathering information regarding certain apparently restrictive Chinese laws, rules and regulations in order to determine if further action under either section 19    of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920 or the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988 is warranted,” Creel told the NIT League seminar. Under both laws, the FMC can impose fines on, and restrict the activities of carriers of the offending country.