Container Lines to Delay Congestion Surcharges Until Jan. 1

Container Lines to Delay Congestion Surcharges Until Jan. 1

Major ocean container lines carrying the vast majority of Asian imports to the United States have committed to not impose port congestion surcharges until 2015, according to the Federal Maritime Commission.

The Commission, which regulates such carriers, said all 15 members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) have individually agreed not to impose the surcharges until at least Jan. 1, 2015.

The FMC had received numerous inquiries in mid-November regarding congestion surcharges for “labor unrest” they said was worsening congestion at many West Coast sea ports as allowed in their tariff rules, which must be published under federal regulations. On Nov. 17, the Commission announced that it was collecting information regarding congestion surcharge rules published in carrier tariffs and undertaking a review. Ocean carriers in the transpacific trades were asked to respond to Commission inquiries into the timing and legal sufficiency of the surcharges, and all carriers timely responded.

During the week of Nov. 24 and following the Commission’s inquiries, many carriers announced temporary suspension of the surcharge.

“I welcome the individual commitments of the ocean carriers to postpone port congestion surcharges into 2015,” said Chairman Mario Cordero. “During this time, Commission staff will further address with the carriers our concerns for the lawfulness, fairness, and adequacy of notice of implementation. The carriers’ commitment to defer the congestion surcharge offers the opportunity to continue this important dialogue and pursue greater transparency as to the timing and the need for future carrier surcharges. The monitoring by Commission staff of port congestion and related surcharges will continue.”

Shippers and other affected parties are invited to submit any updates as to congestion surcharges or recent shipper advisories received from carriers to the Bureau of Trade Analysis at:

The TSA includes all the major container lines serving the Pacific Trade between Asian and the United States, including American President Lines, Evergreen Line Joint Service Agreement, Hapag-Lloyd AG, Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line, Orient Overseas Container Line, Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd and COSCO Continer Lines Co.