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Signals™ Headlines - September 2, 2011

Carriers File Complaint against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Nine unrelated ocean carriers have filed a complaint with the The Federal Maritime Commission against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The FMC has assigned this its Docket No. 11-12 and has begun the formal process. The complaint was filed by China Shipping Container Lines, Cosco Container Lines, Evergreen Line, Hanjin Shipping, Horizon lines, K-Line, NYK Line, United Arab Shipping Company, and Yang Ming Marine Transport. These carriers allege that the Port Authority of New York, acting as a marine terminal operator, violated the Shipping Act because through adoption and implementation of its published tariff provisions the Port “(a) has failed and continues to fail to establish, observe, and enforce just and reasonable regulations and practices relating to or connected with receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property; and (b) has given and continues to give undue and unreasonable preference and advantage or impose undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage with respect to persons.”

In particular, the carriers allege that the Port has adopted a “Cargo Facility Charge” (CFC) which is “unlawful because Complainants (carriers) do not receive services commensurate with the fee; because it severely and unreasonably prejudices Complainants while unduly preferring other users of the Port’s facilities; and because the Cargo Facility Charge and the rules applying it provide for unlawful expulsion of Complainants from the Port.”

The carriers request that the FMC issue an order declaring the Port’s CFC and Section H of its tariff “to be unlawful, and commanding Respondent (the Port) to cease and desist from the aforesaid violations; to establish and put in force such practices as the Commission determines to be lawful and reasonable; to pay to Complainants by way of reparations for the unlawful conduct herein described a sum to be determined, with interest and attorney’s fees and such other sums as the Commission may determine to be proper as an award of reparations.” The full text of the complaint and updates on this proceeding can be viewed in the Commission’s Electronic Reading Room at www.fmc.gov The initial decision in this matter is due August 13, 2012, and the final decision is due December 11, 2012.

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FMC Considers Draft Passenger Vessel Rule, TSA/WTSA Carrier Reporting at Meeting

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) discussed a number of important issues at open and closed sessions of a meeting held August 17, 2011. In the open session of the meeting, the Commissioners discussed the draft Proposed Rule on Passenger Vessel Financial Responsibility Requirements. The Commissioners recently voted to move forward on this rulemaking, and it will review this again with Commission staff at their next meeting on September 8, 2011.

In the closed session of Aug. 17 meeting, the Commissioners discussed the recommendation regarding Special Reporting Requirements for the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement and the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement. FMC staff also provided Commissioners with an update on the increased PierPass Traffic Mitigation Fee at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Commission’s Container Freight Index and Derivatives Working Group. Lastly, Commission staff briefed and discussed the reconstruction proceedings and the Chapter 15 bankruptcy petition of The Containership Company A/S (TCC); this carrier ended its weekly container service between China to the USA earlier this year. Its “reconstructor” appointed by the Copenhagen Maritime and Commercial Court is seeking to recover about $23 million from 83 shippers who did not meet minimum quantity commitments set forth in service contracts.

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TSA Carriers Reduce Fuel Surcharges Effective Oct 1 and Release Revenue Index

Carrier members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA), FMC Agreement No. 011223, serving the East Asia/USA trade lane will reduce fuel charges effective October 1, 2011. The group also released a “revenue index” which tracks ocean freight revenue trends that can be applied in longer-term contracts and used as a pricing stabilization tool.

The group’s New Formula BAF, with adjustment for slow steaming, for the Oct-Dec 2011 quarter will be US$ 538 per 40’ ctr to US West Coast Ports and US$ 1059 per 40’ ctr to US East and Gulf Coast Ports, with other sizes as per formula. The adjustment for slow steaming reduces this BAF by about 2 percent, and most of the TSA Carrier members have updated their FMC tariffs to reflect this adjustment. Inland Fuel Charges (IFC) for the Oct-Dec 2011 quarter will be reduced slightly to US$ 359 per ctr for shipments to IPI destinations served via West Coast Ports, US$ 180 per ctr for shipments to RIPI destinations served via East Coast Ports, and US$ 104 per ctr for shipments to Group 4 Points and to East Coast local store door points. The Currency Adjustment Factors (CAF) for the Oct-Dec 2011 quarter will increase to 22 percent for Japan.

Beginning in August 2011, TSA Carriers are providing their monthly revenue index, which tracks average revenue per container across TSA’s membership of 15 major container lines based on average revenue per container for shipments from Asia to the USA. The index has been maintained internally by the group for several years. Unlike other indices, the TSA uses an index of relative values instead of actual dollar figures. June 2008 is the baseline month, with a value of 100, against which the monthly index is measured. Freight revenue from both service contracts and cargo moving under tariff rates is included in the index; fuel surcharges are not included. For the month of June 2011, the index was 84.28 for the trade from Asia to the US West Coast, the lowest since April 2010.

The TSA’s 15 carrier members are American President Lines, CSCL, CMA-CGM, COSCO Container Lines, Evergreen Marine, Hanjin Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, Hyundai Merchant Marine, “K” Line, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping, NYK Line, OOCL, Yang Ming Marine and Zim Integrated Shipping Services. The group’s web site at www.tsacarriers.org provides additional information.

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WTSA Carriers Adjust Surcharges for Oct-Dec 2011 Quarter

The Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (WTSA), FMC Agreement No. 011325, whose member lines serve the U.S. export trades from the USA to East Asia, announced adjustments to current adjustment factors (CAF) and to bunker and inland fuel charges effective Oct 1, 2011. WTSA Bunker Adjustment Factors (BAF), effective: Oct 1, 2011 thru December 31, 2011, with “Slow Steaming Adjustment,” for traffic to/from and via:

US Atlantic/Gulf Coast Ports
US Pacific Coast Ports
US$ 1149 per 20ft dry ctr
US$ 584 per 20ft dry ctr
US$ 1436 per 40ft/45ft dry ctr
US$ 730 per 40ft/45ft dry ctr
US$ 1914 per 40ft/45ft reefer ctr
US$ 1029 per 40ft/45ft reefer ctr

Without the slow steaming adjustment BAF is about 2% higher than listed here, however, most of the TSA Carriers have updated their tariffs to provide this adjustment. The Inland Fuel Charge (IFC) for Oct-Dec 2011 will be reduced to US$ 359 per ctr for rail and intermodal rail/truck shipments, and US$ 104 per ctr for local/regional truck shipments. Currency Adjustment Factors (CAF) for the same period will be 8 percent for Taiwan and increase to 23 percent for Singapore.

WTSA is a voluntary discussion and research forum of 10 container shipping lines serving the trade from ports and inland points in the U.S. to destinations throughout Asia. The WTSA’s 10 member carriers are American President Lines, COSCO Container Lines, Evergreen Marine Corp., Hanjin Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, Hyundai Merchant Marine, “K” Line, NYK Line, OOCL and Yang Ming Marine. For more info visit www.wtsacarriers.org.

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