In order to provide continued stability and certainty to ocean carriers and shippers impacted by COVID-19, the Commission will extend regulatory relief for service contract filing requirements until June 2021. The Commission voted unanimously this week to take this action.
Commission regulations require the filing of service contracts with the FMC before an ocean carrier is permitted to move cargo under a service contract. Feedback provided to the Commission by Supply Chain Innovation Teams established as part of the Fact Finding 29 Investigation indicated that conditions associated with doing business in a global pandemic might lead to inadvertent non-compliance with FMC requirements.
Acting on a recommendation from Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye who serves as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, the FMC voted in April to allow parties to file service contracts with the Commission up to 30 days after contract terms had been agreed to. The relief granted in April 2020 was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020.
The extended relief approved by the Commission remains effective until June 1, 2021, and is intended to provide continued flexibility to vessel operating common carriers, non-vessel-operating common carriers, and shippers through the service contracting season which generally takes place annually between March and June.
“The health of the Nation’s economy requires a high performing supply chain system. Each of us should applaud the hard work and selflessness of those individuals who have kept essential goods flowing throughout this pandemic. Extending this relief on service contract filing deadlines through the upcoming negotiating season assures that carriers and shippers are able to continue to do business without running afoul of the law,” said Commissioner Dye.