On Thursday, December 18, 2014, President Obama signed into law S.2444, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, which authorizes fiscal year 2015 appropriations and amends laws related to the Coast Guard; authorizes fiscal year 2015 appropriations for the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC); and amends various other maritime-related provisions of law. Senate Bill 2444 (S.2444) was sponsored by Senator Mark Begic (D-AK). The bill’s title honors recently retired U.S. Congressman Howard Coble (D-NC), who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and was a strong advocate for the maritime industry during his 30 years in Congress (1985-2014). Most of the bill’s provisions cover authorizations for the Coast Guard. The bill also requires the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to prepare and submit to Congress a national maritime strategy that will make recommendations to increase the use of US flag vessels between US and foreign ports and enhance US ship building capability.
For the FMC, S.2444 provides budget authorization of USD 24,700,000 for fiscal year 2015. This budget is consistent with the authorization for fiscal year 2014. The bill also amends the regulations governing the terms of Commissioners to limit these to two five (5) year terms. However, when the term of a Commissioner ends, the Commissioner may continue to serve until a successor is appointed and qualified, but for a period not to exceed one year. In the past, several Commissioners served more than two terms, for example, former Commissioner Harold J. Creel, Jr, served three terms, from 1994 to 2009. Former Commissioner Joseph E. Brennan served from November 1999 until January 2013.
The bill also adds provisions to the regulations that prevent Commissioners from having an investment in any entity the Commission regulates, and prohibits Commissioners from engaging in another business, vocation, or employment during their term of service.
Carrier members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA), FMC Agreement No. 011223 serving the East Asia/USA trade lanes adjusted several surcharges effective January 1, 2015. Several TSA Carriers have also announced General Rate Increases (GRIs) of USD 600 per forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU), and Peak Season Surcharges (PSS) of USD 400 per FEU, effective January 15, 2015. Some TSA carriers, including Hapag Lloyd, COSCO, and MOL, have filed GRIs of USD 1000 per FEU. This is the first GRI of 2015 for this trade lane.
The TSA’s recommended Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) for the January to March 2015 quarter is USD 400 per 20ft container and USD 444 per 40ft container to U.S. West Coast Ports, and USD 775 per 20ft container and USD 861 per 40ft container to U.S. East and Gulf Coast Ports, with other sizes as per formula. The Currency Adjustment Factor (CAF) for the Jan-Mar 2015 period is 7% for shipments from Japan.
Several TSA member carriers updated their FMC tariffs in mid-November to reflect General Rate Increases (GRIs) GRI of USD 1000 per FEU to all USA destinations effective December 15, 2014, with GRI amounts for other container sizes as per formula. However, some carriers modified or cancelled this GRI: OOCL cancelled it; APL adjusted its scope; Evergreen reduced the GRI amounts; Hyundai withdrew this GRI for cargo moving from Japan and India Sub-Continent.
The TSA’s fifteen member carriers are: American President Lines, China Shipping Container Lines, CMA CGM, COSCO Container Lines, Evergreen Marine, Hanjin Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd AG, Hyundai Merchant Marine, “K” Line, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping, NYK Line, OOCL, Yang Ming Marine, and Zim Integrated Shipping Services. The TSA web site at www.tsacarriers.org provides additional info; however, each carrier maintains its own tariffs and controls its own pricing. The TSA Carrier group only issues recommended guidelines to its members. Website addresses for all carriers are listed on www.fmc.gov.
Several members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement Westbound (TSA), FMC Agreement No. 011223, whose member carriers serve the USA/East Asia trade lanes have updated their tariffs to provide for General Rate Increases (GRIs) of USD 80 per 20ft dry container and USD 100 per 40ft dry container, effective February 1, 2015. GRI amounts for reefer containers vary by carrier. All the TSA Westbound carriers have also adjusted Bunker and Inland Fuel surcharges for the January to March 2015 quarter; see our SIGNALS issue of December 3, 2014 for details.
TSA Westbound member carriers Yang Ming, Hapag Lloyd, Evergreen, COSCO, and APL have filed GRIs effective February 1, 2015 in amounts of USD 80 per 20ft dry container and USD 100 per 40ft dry container. Maersk announced a GRI of USD 300 per container on all shipments from U.S. West Coast ports, and USD 500 per container on all shipments from U.S. East Coast, effective January 4, 2015.
Several of the TSA Westbound member carriers have filed GRIs to increase rates on cargo moving in refrigerated containers. APL implemented a GRI based on commodity and destination ranging from USD 300 to USD 500 per 40ft high-cube reefer container, effective January 1, 2015. Evergreen updated its FMC tariff to reflect a GRI of USD 300 per 40ft high-cube container on all reefer commodities, with various exceptions, effective February 1, 2015. Hyundai implemented a GRI of USD 300 per 40ft reefer container on shipments from U.S. West Coast and USD 500 per 40ft reefer container from U.S. East Coast on all shipments of protein (meats), effective January 1, 2015.
COSCO filed three separate GRIs effective in January and February that increase its rates for hides and refrigerated commodities shipped from the USA to Asia. Effective January 1, 2015 COSCO implemented a GRI of USD 370 per 20ft container and USD 465 per 40ft container on shipments of hides moving from intermodal points under thru rates. For refrigerated containers, a GRI of USD 240 per 20ft reefer container and USD 300 per 40ft reefer container from U.S. West Coast ports is effective on January 1, or January 9, 2015, or February 1, 2015 depending on the commodity. From U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports, the GRI amounts for shipments of proteins are USD 400 per 20ft reefer container and USD500 per 40ft/45ft reefer container.