Customs Brokers File Tariff Exemption

The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) filed a petition with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) seeking an exemption from the requirement to publish rate tariffs.

If granted, non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) would no longer be required to publish, in tariff form, any rates negotiated with individual shippers as long as those agreed upon rates were somehow memorialized in written form, said NCBFAA. That form could range from a formal contract to a simple exchange of e-mails.

“One aspect of current FMC regulatory policy that carries undue and totally unnecessary burdens is the requirement that NVOCCs publish and maintain rate tariffs,” said Mary Jo Muoio, president of NCBFAA. These published rate tariffs are almost never reviewed or used by customers, said Muoio.

The NCBFAA urged the FMC to grant the requested relief which would, said NCBFAA, incorporate the following principles:

  • The exemption would be voluntary rather than mandatory.
  • The exemption would relate only to rate tariffs. Rules tariffs would still need to be published and maintained.
  • Negotiated NVOCC rates would be governed solely by contract law considerations.
  • NVOCCs with NVOCC Service Agreements (NSAs) would continue to file those with the FMC.
  • To quality, these negotiated rates would need to be documented. The FMC staff would continue to have access to these negotiated agreements and the files of NVOCCs.
  • The exemption would not be construed so as to convey antitrust immunity on NVOCCs.
  • The exemption would be applicable only for licensed or registered NVOCCs. Any companies unlawfully providing NVOCC services would not be able to engage in these activities.

The NCBFAA represents nearly 800 member companies with 100,000 employees serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters.

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