The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has announced that it is intensifying its scrutiny of the three leading ocean carrier alliances in a bid to assess more accurately market fluctuations through enforcing frequent shipping line trade data submissions.
Henceforth the FMC’s Bureau of Trade Analysis will require that the alliances submit data on a monthly basis as opposed to quarterly.
The move also serves to enable the bureau to more adequately review the ocean freight sector given the disruptive impact and related market volatility of Covid-19.
Interestingly, the news heralds the commission’s latest warning to the carrier industry after it announced in October that it was launching an investigation into demurrage and detention charges, delay-related costs that freight forwarders have long since claimed are impeding their industry.
The FMC also confirmed that although it oversaw some 300 different vessel-sharing agreements (VSA), its major focus was on 2M, The Alliance, and Ocean Alliance.
FMC chairperson Michael Kouri said any evidence unearthed about alliance partners exploiting VSA relationships in violation of Shipping Act regulations, especially as ocean trade was recovering from the coronavirus, would prompt the commission to take immediate action.
With regard to its ongoing investigation of detention and demurrage, the FMC this week extended the powers of Rebecca Dye, the relevant commissioner investigating carrier charges related to container return storage.
From what is known neither of the three leading alliances – 2M (Maersk and MSC), The Alliance (NYK Group, MOL, K Line, Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Ming, or Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM, Cosco, Evergreen Line and OOCL, have reacted to the FMC’s announcement.