WSC supports industry call for NVO service contracts
The World Shipping Council has signaled its support for non-vessel-operating common carriers to enter service contracts with shippers.
The council responded to an Aug. 2 joint submission filed by the National Industrial Transportation League, transportation intermediaries, and NVOs, which included UPS, FedEx Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage, BAX Global, BDP International, and C.H. Robinson Worldwide, urging the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission to move ahead with extending the authority for NVOs to enter confidential service contracts.
“As WSC understands (the joint submission) language, it means that the new NVOCC contracts would be subject to the same regulatory requirements as VOCC contracts, e.g., that a condition of the exemption would be that NVOCCs utilizing such contracts are required to comply with the commission’s regulations governing service contracts,” the council said in its Sept. 30 comments to the FMC.
The NVOs have been restricted by the 1998 Ocean Shipping Reform Act from entering service contracts with shippers, while this privilege was extended to vessel-operating common carriers.
Last year, a handful of large NVOs, starting with UPS, began filing largely similar petitions to the FMC that called for the agency to use its exemption authority in OSRA to allow NVOs to enter service contracts.
While supporting the joint submission, the WSC urged the FMC to “deny without prejudice the various pending petitions that seek relief beyond that set forth in the joint supplemental comments.
“Certain of the petitions contain requests for relief that essentially amount to being freed from all of the common carrier obligations of the Shipping Act,” the council said. “These sorts of requests for relief would, inter alia, free NVOCCs acting in their role as carriers from Shipping Act carrier obligations while preserving such Shipping Act obligations for vessel operating carriers.”
The two trade groups and NVOs involved with the joint submission of comments applauded the WSC’s response.
“Our initial view is that this is a very positive statement of support for the joint submission and a clear sign of solidarity in the freight transportation industry to give intermediaries the same tools as VOCCs to provide shippers with service options,” said Peter Gatti, executive vice president of the NIT League, in an interview.
“We’re pleased and appreciate (WSC’s] support,” added David Bolger, a spokesman for UPS.
It’s expected that the FMC will take WSC’s comments into serious consideration when making its final decision whether to grant NVOs service contracting rights.
“Now the commission needs to move forward as expeditiously as possible to address the concerns that have clearly been expressed by all sectors of the transportation industry,” Gatti said.
The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, while not opposing the NVO service contracting initiative, did not sign on with the joint submission, preferring to stick with its petition asking the FMC to use its exemption authority to abolish NVO tariff publication.