HYDE OPPOSES CREELÆS ROLE AT OECD WORKSHOP ON LINER COMPETITION
In a letter Tuesday to U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Rep. Henry J. Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the House International Relations Committee, strongly opposed the department’s decision to have Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Harold J. Creel Jr. represent the views of Congress on liner carrier competition at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Paris this week.
Creel is expected to make his remarks on Thursday before the OECD Maritime Transport Committee’s Workshop on Competition Policy in Liner Shipping.
“It would be inappropriate for any member of the U.S. delegation to presume that he has been sent by Congress, or that he could speak on its behalf,” Hyde said. “I would, accordingly, take strong exception to any statements made by any U.S. officials … that would purport to represent the view of Congress.”
During his previous tenure as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Hyde held two extensive hearings on the subject of ocean carrier antitrust immunity, which was retained in the 1998 Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
Hyde said he “came to the view that U.S. policy of ocean carriers’ antitrust immunity does not serve our national interests.” He introduced a bill that calls for abolishing carrier antitrust immunity in liner shipping, which has since been embraced by the current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis.
Hyde also noted in the letter that the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Division, and leading importers and exporters believe that the country’s antitrust immunity policy for liner carriers is “out of date and needs to be changed since there are no longer any U.S.-owned and operational international liner companies.”
He said he expects department officials will put on the record their remarks in the “proper context” and “clarify that the chairs of the House Committees on Judiciary and International Relations have serious reservations about our current antitrust immunity policy.”