The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc., (NCBFAA) submitted comments to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) opposing requested anti-trust immunity by the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA). Prepared and filed by NCBFAA General Counsel Edward Greenberg, the NCBFAA comments are in response to the TSA’s request to amend its agreement with the FMC to grant it immunity from antitrust laws when it collectively discusses capacity rationalization issues.

In its comments, the NCBFAA posits that approval of the TSA request would lead to less service and higher rates. ‘The NCBFAA believes that the proposal on its face raises concern that it could result in an unreasonable reduction in transportation service or an unreasonable increase in transportation costs,’ according to the NCBFAA, ‘and that no approval should be considered by the [FMC] unless or until the carriers are able to demonstrate that neither of these fears are justified.’

The NCBFAA points out that TSA members, all foreign carriers, are no more deserving of special consideration than any other company facing the problems caused by current economic conditions. Additionally, the NCBFAA encourages the FMC to either challenge the TSA’s amendment request or at least seek detailed justification from the carriers for such extraordinary relief.

‘The NCBFAA has long opposed the continuation of anti-trust immunity for steamship lines as inappropriate and unnecessary,’ the Counsel Greenberg wrote. ‘And, the NCBFAA is particularly concerned that the expanded immunity now sought by TSA could substantially and adversely affect the ocean shipping marketplace.’

To support the NCBFAA position, General Counsel Greenberg provided the FMC with a Department of Justice study that concluded the effect of capacity control coordination, even for a limited time, could have significant adverse effect on consumer prices.