July 27, 2021


The Federal Maritime Commission plans to check nine of the largest container carriers, operating in U.S. markets, for practices of exercising oligopolistic market power to overload shippers with unjustified fees of detentions and demurrages.

The Vessel-Operating Common Carrier Audit program, launched last week by the Federal Maritime Commission, “will provide additional information useful for regular monitoring of the maritime transport services market.”

The top nine carriers, by market share, included in the audit are Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, COSCO, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, HMM and Yang Ming. The audit program was announced just a week after the FMC announced an agreement with the Department of Justice, to strengthen economic oversight of foreign carriers operating in the United States, in order to curb what the White House considers excessive market power by maritime carriers. These will be analyzed to verify compliance with the FMC regulations on detentions and demurrages, regardless of whether a formal or informal complaint is lodged with the Commission. The audit, which will begin with a request for information aimed at setting up a database of quarterly reports and will be followed by individual interviews with carriers, may also include an examination of aspects related to billing, appeal procedures, sanctions and any other restrictive practices.

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