Shifting Seas: A Survey of US and European Liner Shipping Regulatory Developments Affecting the Trans-Atlantic Trades

Often, MEL introduces a special section under the heading ‘Policy Perspectives’. Papers here, often solicited ones, emphasise strategic policy implications rather than scientific rigour in a strict sense. Papers in Policy Perspectives are not subject to peer review; this results in speedier publication. Papers submitted to MEL are submitted for both sections at the discretion of Editors. Authors not wishing to have their papers considered for Policy Perspectives should state this in the cover letter. Beginning in the early 1900s, the United States (US) instituted a regulatory scheme similar to the British ‘conference system’, which handled oversight of the international ocean shipping industry. This design was initially embodied in the Shipping Act of 1916. Various incarnations of the Shipping Act occurred throughout the 20th century, the most significant action resulting from passage of the Shipping Act of 1984 and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998. Sparked by these regulatory changes, the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) – the governmental body overseeing implementation of the maritime regulatory laws – took on a more interventionist role. Until recently, European nations (and later the European Union) had chosen a more laissez-faire approach to regulating their ocean carriers and shippers. The US and European regulatory regimes vary in their approach to, jurisdiction of, and enforcement of regulations governing conduct of shippers, carriers, and intermediaries involved in ocean shipping. In part, these contrasting regulatory perspectives have led to sometimes significantly different economic consequences. For example, as the Shipping Act stands today, non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs), commonly referred to as ‘freight forwarders’ in Europe, are not permitted to enter into contract rates with their shipper-customers but instead must publish a tariff rate covering every shipment they handle. Several of the larger, diversified NVOCCs that offer a variety of logistical services, filed petitions with the FMC requesting that they be granted the authority to offer confidential contract rates. By many accounts, the FMC's new NVOCC ‘service arrangement’ rulemaking has halted yet another round of comprehensive changes to the US regulatory approach to liner shipping for the time being.


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  • Accession Number: 01606787
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 27 2016 11:17AM