FMC KEEPS CHINA TRADE ISSUES ALIVE
The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission said it continues to scrutinize long-standing trade barriers which are said to be hampering non-Chinese ocean carriers in the U.S./China trade.
In a closed meeting held earlier this week, the FMC said it will continue deliberations regarding China’s alleged shipping restrictitons and practices, and will formally revisit the China trade issues in August.
For years, the FMC, the Maritime Administration and the State Department have been concerned over so-called “doing-business” restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities.
Such restrictions include:
* The inability of non-Chinese ocean carriers to access Chinese ports within 24 hours’ notice.
* Barring non-Chinese carriers from establishing booking offices in inland locations and ports serviced by transshipment.
* Barring non-Chinese carriers from operating branch offices without first opening a so-called “representative office ” in a particular city for at least one year.
* Forwarding restrictions, such as issuing bills of lading or opening branch offices beyond the six originally approved by the Chinese government.
The FMC will continue consideration of a China Ocean Shipping Co. (COSCO) petition for the right to undercut a competitor’s rates within 24 hours. COSCO already has the right under an FMC-approved exemption to the Controlled Carrier Act to meet a competitor’s rate within 24 hours’ notice.
The commission will also continue to consider a petition by China National Foreign Trade Transportation Group (Sinotrans) for an exemption to the Controlled Carrier Act to meet a competitor’s rate on one day’s notice.
In addition, the FMC left open the possibility of considering a range of Controlled Carrier Act issues this coming August. One possibility is an investigation into controlled carriers’ shipping rates. Under the law, the FMC has the authority to determine whether a controlled carriers’ rates are non-competitive.
Finally, the FMC said it will address its on-going review of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. A final report is expected to be released later this summer.