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FMC warns on labour unrest container congestion surcharges

FMC warns on labour unrest container congestion surcharges
The US' Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has clarified its tariff rules as container lines warn of congestion surcharges.

In response to "numerous enquiries" about the surcharges, the FMC restated the rules on imposing surcharges, "Unless done pursuant to a waiver or exemption, any tariff rule (including surcharges) of a common carrier that results in an increased cost to a shipper may not be effective earlier than 30 days after publication."

In a statement last week, the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) announced congestion surcharges of up to $1,000 per feu for boxes moving through US West Coast ports from Asia from 17 November.

In instances where carries have previously published notices of surcharges under set conditions, the tariff rules must specifically state the criteria involved related to "labour unrest" including implementation and termination of the surcharge.

Further, the rules applicable to a shipment are those in effect on the date the common carrier receives it, "Thus, if any labour disruption were to occur at a port after cargo has been tendered by a shipper, a carrier may only lawfully charge the rates in effect on the day the cargo is tendered."