William S. App. Jr. @ (504) 464-0181
NCBFAA Seeks Review of NRAs and Other FMC Regulations
Washington, DC: In a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) has suggested that the FMC reconsider its approach to three significant ways in which its regulations affect ocean transportation intermediaries. The NCBFAA letter was a response to an FMC notice issued on November 4, 2011, seeking comments from the shipping public on how to improve the Commission’s existing regulations.
First, the NCBFAA noted that relatively few NVOCCs have taken advantage of the Commission’s recent decision to exempt NVOCCs from rate tariff publication. In the Association’s view, the exemption, which is referred to as NVOCC Rate Arrangements (or NRAs), should be expanded to all NVOCCs – both US-domiciled licensed companies and foreign-domiciled, registered companies. The failure to include legitimate foreign-based NVOCCs unfairly discriminates against those companies. Moreover, the NCBFAA is concerned that China or other countries might retaliate and take action that adversely affects US NVOCCs due to this discrimination against their nationals.
“The NCBFAA believes that the shipping industry would benefit by revisiting the NRA regulations to both make them available to all appropriately licensed and registered NVOCCs and by simplifying and modifying the existing regulations,” the NCBFAA wrote. “With these modifications, the NRA exemption would become a significantly more useful tool for establishing the applicable rates and services provided by NVOCCs to their shipper customers.”
Second, in a similar vein, the NCBFAA indicated that the regulations pertaining to NVOCC Service Arrangements (or NSAs) are so burdensome that they are also of little use to the NVOCC industry. The Association suggested that the Commission eliminate the need for NVOs to file these contracts with the agency or to publish the so-called “essential terms” of these agreements. “By doing so,” the NCBFAA said, “the Commission would make this contract tool more useful.”
Third, the NCBFAA proposed that the Commission both streamline the existing licensing process and emphasize the competence and expertise of applicants as part of the review process. The NCBFAA has been suggesting, for some time, that the Commission adopt some form of competency standards, something akin to the NCBFAA’s Certified Export Specialist Program, as it believes this would improve the professionalism and the image of the industry
In conclusion, the NCBFAA noted it “would be pleased to work with the Commission to assist the agency in developing a program to ensure that licensed and registered NVOCSs have sufficient knowledge about the regulatory and operational requirements applicable to OTIs and are considered fit and competent to provide those services to the shipping public.”
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents nearly 800 member companies with 100,000 employees in international trade - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), NVOCCs and air cargo agents, serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefing, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.
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