Summary: S.414 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (08/04/1998)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Amendments to the Shipping Act of 1984

Title II: Authorization of Appropriations for the Federal

Maritime Commission

Title III: Amendments to Other Shipping and Maritime Laws

Title IV: Certain Loan Guarantees and Commitments

Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 - Title I: Amendments to the Shipping Act of 1984 - Amends the Shipping Act of 1984 (the Act) to include as one of its purposes to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through competitive and efficient ocean transportation and by placing a greater reliance on the marketplace.

(Sec. 102) Redefines the term "deferred rebate" with respect to common carriers and shippers to make its payment conditional upon the shipper's agreeing to make a further shipment with that or any other common carrier. Includes "agreement" and "deferred rebate arrangements" within the scope of "loyalty contracts." Repeals definitions for "fighting ship" and "maritime labor agreement." Defines "ocean transportation intermediary" as an ocean freight forwarder or a non-vessel-operating common carrier. Redefines "service contract" and "shipper."

(Sec. 103) Revises the scope of the Act, with respect to certain agreements by or among ocean common carriers, to exclude from coverage agreements among ocean common carriers to engage in exclusive, preferential, or cooperative working arrangements with non-vessel-operating common carriers. Includes within the Act agreements by or among ocean common carriers to discuss and agree on any matter related to service contracts.

(Sec. 104) Reduces from ten days to five days the deadline for a member of a shipping conference to give notice of independent action on a rate or service item. Prohibits ocean common carrier agreements from prohibiting or restricting members from negotiating service contracts, from requiring disclosure of negotiations on, or terms and conditions of, service contracts, or adopting mandatory rules or requirements affecting the right of an agreement member to negotiate and enter into such contracts. Permits an agreement to provide authority to adopt voluntary guidelines for the terms and procedures of such service contracts, if the guidelines explicitly state the right of members not to follow them.

(Sec. 105) Declares that the Act does not extend antitrust immunity to loyalty contracts (a contract with an ocean common carrier or conference, other than a service contract or contract based upon time-volume rates, in which a shipper obtains lower rates by committing all or a fixed portion of its cargo to that carrier or conference).

(Sec. 106) Repeals the requirement that a common carrier or conference file tariffs with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), replacing it with a requirement that it keep tariffs open to public inspection in an automated tariff system. Excludes new assembled motor vehicles, among other currently specified items, from this requirement. Mandates that tariffs be made available electronically to the public for inspection, for a reasonable charge but without time, quantity, or other limitation.

Revises provisions regarding: (1) service contracts between individual common carriers or among several ocean common carriers and one or more shippers; (2) publication of tariff rates and marine terminal operator schedules; (3) refund of freight charges collected from a shipper by a common carrier or conference for tariff errors (allowing such a refund only for failure to publish a new tariff or for an error in quoting a tariff); and (4) automated tariff systems.

Requires the essential terms of service contracts filed with the FMC to be published and made available to the public. Requires an ocean common carrier that is a party to a collective bargaining agreement to state, upon request by the labor organization, whether it is responsible for certain work at U.S. dock and port areas with respect to cargo transportation under a service contract.

(Sec. 107) Amends the High Seas Driftnet Fisheries Enforcement Act to repeal its automated tariff filing and information system requirements.

(Sec. 108) Amends the Act to revise requirements for FMC determination of the unjustness and unreasonableness of controlled carrier rates. Changes the FMC's authority to disapprove unjust and unreasonable rates to authority to prohibit them.

(Sec. 109) Revises the enumeration of prohibited acts by common carriers with respect to the provision of ocean transportation services. Repeals current prohibitions against: (1) charging compensation for transportation service different from that shown in published tariffs or service contracts; (2) rebating portions of rates except in accordance with tariffs or service contracts; (3) extending or denying privileges, concessions, equipment, or facilities except in accordance with tariffs or service contracts; (4) using a loyalty contract, except in conformity with antitrust laws; (5) demanding, charging, or collecting any rate that is unjustly discriminatory between shippers or ports; (6) giving any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage (except for service contracts) to any particular person, locality, or description of traffic; (7) subjecting any particular person, locality, or description of traffic to an unreasonable refusal to deal or any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage; (8) employing any fighting ship; or (9) refusing to negotiate with a shippers' association.

Replaces such prohibitions with prohibitions against: (1) providing service in the liner trade that is not in accordance with the rates, classifications, rules, and practices contained in a tariff or service contract (unless exempted), or is under a tariff or service contract which has been suspended or prohibited by the FMC or the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988; (2) for service pursuant to a service contract, engaging in any unfair or unjustly discriminatory practice in the matter of rates or charges, or giving any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage, or imposing any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage, with respect to any port; (3) for service pursuant to a tariff, giving any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage or imposing any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage; (4) using a vessel in a particular trade to exclude, prevent, or reduce competition by driving another ocean common carrier out of that trade; or (5) unreasonably refusing to deal or negotiate. Substitutes "an ocean transportation intermediary" for "non-vessel-operating common carrier" and "freight forwarders" with respect to certain enumerated prohibitions.

Revises certain provisions with respect to a conference or group of two or more common carriers to prohibit them from: (1) negotiating with a nonocean carrier or group of nonocean carriers (for example, truck, rail, or air operators) on any matter relating to rates or services provided to ocean common carriers by such nonocean carriers, unless such negotiations and any resulting agreements are not in violation of the antitrust laws and are consistent with the purposes of this Act; or (2) for service pursuant to a service contract, engaging in any unjustly discriminatory practice in the matter of rates or charges, or giving any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage, or imposing any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage, with respect to any locality, port, or persons due to those persons' status as shippers' associations or ocean transportation intermediaries.

Prohibits a marine terminal operator from giving any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage or imposing any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage with respect to any person.

(Sec. 111) Amends the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988 to substitute "ocean transportation intermediary" for "non-vessel-operating common carrier" and "freight forwarder" with respect to the scope of such Act.

(Sec. 112) States that the penalty imposed on a common carrier for violations of the Act shall constitute a lien upon the carrier's vessels.

Authorizes the FMC to request the Secretary of the Treasury to refuse or revoke any clearance required for a common carrier vessel if such carrier fails to supply certain information in a FMC investigation or adjudicatory proceeding.

Prohibits the FMC or a court from ordering any person to pay the difference between the amount billed and agreed upon with a common carrier for transportation services and the amount set forth in any tariff or service contract.

(Sec. 115) Repeals provisions of the Act: (1) requiring the FMC to report to the Congress and specified Federal agencies with respect to the impact of the Act on the international ocean shipping industry; and (2) establishing the Advisory Commission on Conferences in Ocean Shipping.

(Sec. 116) Revises certain license and bond requirements with respect to ocean transportation intermediaries (currently ocean freight forwarders).

(Sec. 118) Amends the Shipping Act of 1984 to repeal the requirement that non-vessel-operating common carriers furnish the FMC a bond, proof of insurance, or other surety.

Title II: Authorization of Appropriations for the Federal Maritime Commission - Authorizes appropriations for the FMC for FY 1998.

(Sec. 202) Amends Reorganization Plan Number 7 of 1961 to revise FMC quorum requirements to change from any three FMC members to a majority the quorum necessary to dispose of any matter before it.

Title III: Amendments to Other Shipping and Maritime Laws - Amends specified Federal maritime laws to make technical and conforming changes consistent with this Act.

Title IV: Certain Loan Guarantees and Commitments - Prohibits, after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation from issuing loan guarantees for the construction, reconstruction, or reconditioning of liner vessels under the authority of Merchant Marine Act, 1936, unless the Chairman of the FMC makes a certain certification with respect to the vessel operator.

(Sec. 401) Prohibits the Secretary of Commerce from issuing a guarantee or a commitment to guarantee a loan for the construction, reconstruction, or reconditioning of a fishing vessel if the vessel operator has been: (1) held liable or liable in rem for a civil penalty pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, but not paid the penalty; (2) found guilty of an offense pursuant to such Act, but not paid the assessed fine or served the assessed sentence; (3) held liable for a civil or criminal penalty under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, but not paid the assessed fine or served the assessed sentence; or (4) held liable for a civil penalty by the Coast Guard, but not paid the assessed fine.