FMC Plans Tighter Oversight of Carrier Surcharge Process

As reported by multiple media outlets, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) remains focused on ensuring that the process by which ocean carriers communicate and implement surcharges is “transparent and fair.” According to FMC Commissioner Michael Khouri, who spoke recently at a port productivity conference in Newark, NJ sponsored by the Journal of Commerce, the FMC is taking several steps to this effect, including creating a page on its website to serve as a clearinghouse for all carrier surcharges and associated tariffs, so that they can all be viewed in one place. In addition, the agency plans to compare the language in carrier announcements and tariffs to make sure they are consistent, and to educate ocean carriers and shippers about the requirements of the cargo tender rules.

The FMC began monitoring surcharges more closely in November, when several carrier announced Congestion Surcharges to help compensate for unexpected delays and equipment costs related to severe congestion on the U.S. West Coast. Importers and exporters immediately questioned the timing of the increases, the lack of a clear “triggering event,” and the initial intent to impose the surcharges on cargo already in the carriers’ possession.

Walker will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customers apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions or concerns related to specific shipments, please feel free to contact your Walker representative.