The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) voted this week to start the regulatory review process regarding ocean common carrier and marine terminal operator (MTO) agreements (the Carrier/MTO Agreement Review). The review, announced on Nov. 17, 2015, will focus on certain exemptions from the FMC's filing requirements and waiting periods, but revisions to the Information Form and Monitoring Report requirements, clarifications of existing language, and removing obsolete language will all be considered. The Carrier/MTO Agreement Review Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) is not expected until the first half of 2016, and the FMC does intend to seek comment, including comments regarding information disclosure in the agreement review process.

The Carrier/MTO Agreement Review marks the second FMC regulatory review advanced in the past month. As previously noted by Holland & Knight's Maritime Team, the FMC voted to proceed with the regulatory review process for FMC-regulated service contracts and non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) service arrangements (the Service Contract/NSA Review) during its closed session on Oct. 17, 2015. The FMC anticipates releasing this ANPR before the end of 2015.

Stakeholder Comments and Considerations

With both reviews, the FMC will accept comments from stakeholders for review and analysis in the FMC's rulemaking and regulatory review process. The most recent ocean transportation intermediary (OTI) rulemaking (see Holland & Knight's alert, "FMC Issues Final Rule Regarding Freight Forwarder and NVOCC Requirements," Nov. 4, 2015) received tremendous interest and comment. While these two rulemakings are pending, it is important to consider how your particular business is affected by the current version of the rules and may be affected by the proposed scope of review.