The World Shipping Council (WSC) has filed an agreement with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to ensure that its continued container shipping advocacy work complies with the 1984 Shipping Act.
WSC submitted the six-page agreement to the agency on Oct. 1. Without objection from the commission, it will become effective Nov. 15.
Since its formation in 2000, the Washington-based WSC has interfaced with governments and advocated positions in regard to laws, policies, rules and regulations of governments and international organizations affecting ocean container carriers.
“Our work in the past has focused on our interactions with governments and international organizations on policy and regulatory initiatives, and that will remain the case in the future,” he added. “There may be situations in which governments are unable to drive solutions, however, and in those cases, we may want to look at how the industry can work together to tackle these challenges.”
WSC has also been instrumental in increasing government and public awareness on the importance of container shipping to the global economy.
“As we look to the future, the nature of the challenges that the industry faces will continue to grow and change,” WSC President and CEO John Butler told American Shipper.
The agreement would authorize WSC members to exchange information, discuss and reach “voluntary, nonbinding agreement (including best practices and/or guidelines for voluntary implementation of best practices)” with regards to environmental and climate change matters relating to vessels; legal and regulatory matters involving competition and antitrust laws; positions to be taken in respect of international agreements, treaties and conventions; positions related to requirements of or under consideration by state, national, regional and international governments; safety and security involving packing, labeling, storage and handling of dangerous cargoes; and positions related to matters of information technology, data submission, customs, cybersecurity, and electronic bills of lading.
These types of activities may fall into the category of “cooperative working agreement” under the Shipping Act, thereby potentially triggering a filing requirement, Butler explained.
“We are filing the agreement at this point to make sure that we have access to the appropriate tools to meet the industry’s challenges and out of an abundance of caution to make sure that we are in full compliance with the U.S. Shipping Act. With or without an FMC agreement, the council has and will operate within the boundaries of legal requirements everywhere we are active,” he said.
While not common, the WSC agreement filing with the FMC is not unique. The Cruise Lines International Association, for example, has had a similar agreement on file with the FMC for years.