On April 16, Commissioner Mario Cordero, who replaced Commissioner Richard A. Lidinsky as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) earlier in April, testified to Congress regarding the Fiscal Year 2014 FMC budget. In his presentation, Chairman Cordero outlined two primary ways the Commission could promote our nation’s economic recovery:

(1) working to ensure the competitiveness of our Nation’s ports and  maritime transportation system to make sure that it efficiently  supports growing exports; and

(2) providing maritime businesses regulatory relief so they and their  customers can hire more American workers.

Because more than 80% of international trade relies on ports, Chairman Cordero stated that the efficiency of our transportation system–including the OTI (Ocean Transportation Intermediary), ocean common carriers, and marine terminal operators–is key to relieving congestion at ports, decreasing delays, and lowering transportation costs.

Chairman Cordero also reiterated a commitment to continue assisting U.S. exporters in 2013. Agricultural exporters can look forward to a container shipping rate index for a few targeted export commodities such as grains, cotton, hay, and frozen meat. It is anticipated that with such an index exporters could plan and hedge their transportation costs.

Other new developments include a searchable database of NVOCC (Non Vessel Owned Common Carriers) on the FMC website. Small businesses that want to start exporting, as well as individuals shipping personal goods, can use the search tool to find nearby licensed and bonded freight forwarders.

Chairman Cordero and the FMC have committed to continued efforts to reduce regulatory burdens, thereby initiating cost savings and flexibility for the shipping industry and its customers. Progress was made in 2012. Chairman Cordero cited the following:

* changes to procedural rules to improve just, speedy, and inexpensive resolutions in administrative proceedings.

* revisions in tariff exemptions which eliminate record keeping requirements for negotiated rate arrangements offered by U.S.-based NVOCCs.

* initiation of dialogue on a proposed rule that would expand these tariff exemptions to foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs.

* reviews of regulations concerning the licensing and oversight of OTI (Ocean Transportation Intermediaries), the process for review of filed agreements, and rules regarding service contract filings.

Chairman Cordero stated that the Commission will continue to solicit input from the shipping public and the regulated industry about how to streamline and improve its rules.