U.S. FMC TO MEET NOV. 9 ON CHINA SANCTIONS; ACTION AGAINST OPT-OUT LINES
The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission will meet Nov. 9 in a closed
session to review sanctions against China, proposed by the FMC’s office of general
counsel, for alleged trade restrictions imposed on U.S. and other non-Chinese carriers.
The FMC told its general counsel, Tom Panebianco. to prepare sanctions
against Chinese maritime-related companies to retaliate against the unfair practices.
Sanctions could include barring Chinese ships from calling U.S. ports, suspension of
tariffs, or fining Chinese ships up to $1 million each time they call an U.S. port.
China is accused of forcing non-Chinese carriers to wade through months of
red tape to gain access to new ports, limits in establishing offices in inland locations
and ports served by transshipment, and not being allowed to open branch offices without
meeting special requirements.
The commission will also review a recommendation made by FMC enforcement
attorney last summer against nine ocean carriers belonging to the now defunct Asia North
American Eastbound Rate Agreement.
The ANERA carriers allegedly violated the U.S. Shipping Act of 1984 when they
opted out of service contracts during last year’s peak transpacific shipping season. The
lines could face millions of dollars in fines if the FMC decides against the carriers.
The enforcement attorney’s recommendations followed an investigation, headed
by Commissioner Del Won, in which the commission determined that the carriers
discriminated against shippers — especially small shippers and non-vessel-operating
common carriers — by either refusing to provide shippers space or charging rates above
what were negotiated in the service contracts.
Won will not take part in the ANERA review. He recused himself from voting in
the opt-out case after the transpacific lines complained that he had prejudged the issues
in comments made in the maritime trade press.