The Federal Maritime Commission voted June 6 to approve a final rule that will make it easier for non-vessel-operating common carriers to use negotiated service arrangements and negotiated rate arrangements. The FMC states that this rule, which is expected to be published this summer, will relieve regulatory burdens on ocean transportation intermediaries while simultaneously giving shippers more choices and flexibility.

NSAs are the NVOCC functional equivalent of a service contract. The FMC states that the final rule will make NSAs easier and more attractive to use by removing filing and essential terms requirements.

NRAs are written arrangements between a shipper and a licensed or registered NVOCC to provide specific transportation service for a stated cargo quantity, from origin to destination, on and after a stated date or within a defined time frame. NVOCCs using NRAs need not publish the applicable rate in the tariffs they make available to the public. NRAs are not filed with the FMC but are instead maintained in private electronic systems. The FMC states that the final rule will allow NRAs to be amended at any time, allow the inclusion of non-rate economic terms, and allow an NVOCC to provide for shipper acceptance of the NRA by booking a shipment.

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