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FMC Chairman Calls for Simplified Solutions for Container Weight Requirement

Monday, June 20, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Ocean carriers should accept the weight of export containers as determined by marine terminal operators for purposes of complying with a container weight reporting requirement set to take effect in just two weeks, Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero said June 16. Cordero added that container weights should be transmitted directly from the MTO to the carrier without first being sent to the shipper.

Effective July 1, regulation VI/2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea will require shippers of packed cargo containers to certify and submit the verified gross mass (the combined weight of the cargo and container) to the carrier and port terminal operator sufficiently in advance of vessel loading to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan. The Coast Guard announced April 28 that existing methods and procedures for tendering export cargo and declaring container weights are already in compliance with the new SOLAS requirement. Cordero said he is “increasingly struggling to fathom why the ocean carrier community has not fully embraced [this] equivalency declaration,” which he said presents “a simple and efficient solution for assuring the continued smooth flow of export cargoes.”

Cordero also warned that any VGM compliance regime established under the auspices of a discussion agreement on file at the FMC that adds burdens to declaring container weights will invite increased FMC scrutiny. “Why anyone would add procedures, requirements and costs to doing business is not only puzzling,” he said, “it raises the specter of anticompetitive behavior and necessitating Commission action.”

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