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FMC Considering More Business Friendly Overhaul of OTI Regulations, Chairman Says`

Friday, April 11, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The head of the Federal Maritime Commission said this week that an agency effort to substantially overhaul its regulations on ocean transportation intermediaries could be revamped to make the changes more business friendly.

In May 2013 the FMC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking setting forth a number of potential changes to the regulations on the licensing, financial responsibility requirements and duties of OTIs in an effort to adapt to changing industry conditions, improve regulatory effectiveness and transparency, streamline processes and reduce regulatory burdens. However, an FMC official said last fall that the response to the ANPR had been “overwhelmingly” negative and that the proposed changes are not a priority for the regulated industry.

FMC Chairman Mario Cordero told the annual conference of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America April 8 that FMC commissioners are now considering a staff recommendation “seeking guidance and further instruction toward proceeding with a ‘more business-friendly’ set of OTI rules.” Cordero said that while he cannot predict how the other commissioners will vote, he anticipates that “a number of issues seen to have substantive and economic impact upon the OTI or surety communities likely will not proceed to the [proposed rule] stage” and that others “will be modified in ways that will indeed make them more business friendly, so as to reduce the burden to the industry in responding, and remove or reduce fees or financial burdens associated with licensing and OTI registration.” He added his opinion that the FMC should refocus its controls and qualifications as to those who operate unlawfully as unlicensed OTIs and not expand its reach into substantively regulating OTI advertising.

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