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Truckers hit back at carriers in US chassis dispute

US truckers have responded to international shipping lines’ “motion to dismiss” a USD$1.8 billion complaint over “unfair” practises surrounding the use of chassis for box moves in US ports.

The dispute between the American Trucking Associations Intermodal Carriers Conference and the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) - a body that represents the world’s biggest container shipping companies - is being assessed by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).

Last month, OCEMA moved to have the dispute dismissed on the grounds that the FMC was not qualified to rule on matters surrounding ground transportation.

ATA’s legal team said there was plenty of precedent for the FMC to rule on the matter. “The Commission has jurisdiction over IMCC’s Complaint because it ‘relat[es] to or is connected with’ the delivery of property to a shipper or receiver under a through tariff or contract, including “shipments going to inland destinations or points”. OCEMA now has seven days to respond to the latest filing with the FMC.

The basis of ATA’s complaint is that OCEMA has, “suppressed chassis choice and interoperability, creating supply chain inefficiencies, and causing overcharges for motor carriers, shippers, and US consumers”.

ATA estimates that restrictions on freedom of choice and access to the pool of chassis has cost shippers up to USD$1.8bn in the last three years.

“Respondents’ restrictions on chassis competition and choice have resulted in port and terminal inefficiencies, and overcharges paid by motor carriers, their shipper customers, and ultimately U.S. consumers,” says ATA’s formal response.

As well as its argument to dismiss over FMC jurisdiction, OCEMA’s legal team highlighted the commercial interests of powerful trucking companies seeking to expand their participation in the movement of containers in US ports as being the principal motivation behind the complaint.

Full ATA Response.

Rainbow Blue Nelson
Americas Correspondent

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