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NCBFAA Says FMC Wrongly Considering Enforcing 'One-Off' Violations of OTI Rules

As the Federal Maritime Commission considers reversing its rulemaking from 2018, the National Customs Brokers & Fowarders Association of America is arguing that unreasonable practices should continue to be subject to enforcement only if they are "normal, customary and continuous."

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The NCBFAA said in its Aug. 28 member newsletter that the FMC general counsel said it might reinterpret the rule. "NCBFAA President Jose D. Gonzalez told FMC Acting General Counsel Katia Kroutil in comments that the association 'steadfastly opposes' the agency’s proposed re-interpretation of section 41102(c)," the newsletter said.

NCBFAA believes that limiting enforcement to a pattern of unjust or unreasonable practices aligned with legislative intent. “While the Association understands the ongoing frustration and concerns with respect to ocean carrier activities over the last two years, re-interpretation would unduly penalize entities beyond ocean carriers,” Gonzalez wrote. “In particular, Ocean Transportation Intermediaries would be liable for one-off mistakes rather than systemic issues.”

The organization said it could make things difficult for these intermediaries, which are working to comply with the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 "as well as respond to ongoing supply chain crises and other issues plaguing the ocean shipping industry."