With the implementation date for new container weighing requirements 14-days away, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission Mario Cordero said the time has come for ocean carriers to embrace the obvious solution to achieving compliance that marine terminal operators can offer.
Specifically, Cordero asserted the weight of export containers, as determined by terminal operators, can and should be classified as the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the container.
Cordero also noted that any VGM compliance regime established under the auspices of a discussion agreement on file at the Federal Maritime Commission that adds burdens to declaring container weights will invite increased scrutiny by the Commission.
"There is a course to SOLAS VGM compliance provided by the Coast Guard that is not only not burdensome, it requires no additional action at all. Why anyone would add procedures, requirements and costs to doing business is not only puzzling, it raises the specter of anticompetitive behavior and necessitating Commission action," said Cordero. "Using the weight taken at the terminal gate for the purposes of satisfying the need for a verified weight of a container is a simple and efficient solution for assuring the continued smooth flow of export cargoes."
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Editor's Insight: Last month, the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association made an agreement with six U.S. ports to work on a system for determining container weight verification and asked the Federal Maritime Commission to approve the agreement. Commission chairman Cordero, in his recent remarks, seems to be responding to this request by saying it is adding procedures when a simple solution is available.
The reality is that not all port terminals are offering to weigh the containers. A system needs to be agreed upon. Otherwise, there will be confusion and congestion at the ports.
The International Maritime Organization has asked for a three-month delay in enforcing the container weight rule because of confusion as to how shippers will comply and the failure by many governments to provide compliance guidelines. Whatever or whenever enforcement actions are taken, the parties need to work together on a system to prevent costly delays. 6-17-16 By Elliot Maras