FMC Updates Agreement Filing Review Process

The Federal Maritime Commission has announced that it has revised the process for reviewing maritime agreements filed by container carriers and marine terminals in response to industry trends.

Under the law, the FMC has 45 days to consider a filed agreement and either reject it or allow it to go into effect. However, the Commission states that it is receiving agreements of increased complexity or of a nature not previously seen.

Currently, the commission reviews each agreement or amendment filing by moving it through the relevant office and bureau staff in a “sequential” review process. With these agreements becoming increasingly complex, there’s a risk for delay and rushing at the end to meet the 45-day deadline to finish the review.

The goal for the new review methodology is to allow the FMC staff to make its recommendations with regards to the filed agreements and amendments to the commissioners for their consideration two weeks before the end of the 45-day review period.

Under the proposed new agreement review process, the FMC will immediately publish the agreement filing in the Federal Register to ensure the industry is aware of the agreement and has adequate time to file comments with the commission.  Internally, the commission will hold a meeting of representatives from all the bureaus and offices, including the commissioners’ staff, to introduce the filed agreement and immediately start the review process across the agency.

The FMC will also reach out to the agreement’s filing counsel, if necessary, during the 45-day review cycle to address any concerns with specific terms or conditions in the agreement.