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Twenty-nine trade groups last week sent letters to leaders of the House judiciary and transportation committees, and Senate commerce and judiciary committees urging them to again consider legislation abolishing antitrust immunity, something ocean carriers have had since 1916.
The groups told congressional leaders that the complaints they made about carrier abuse a year ago remain unresolved. In March, the Federal Maritime Commission launched an investigation after shippers complained that carriers were manipulating vessel capacity and acting in unison to fix rates and surcharges. Among the results, the FMC ordered closer monitoring of two discussion groups in the trans-Pacific trade, and three global alliances.
"As long as ocean carrier antitrust immunity continues, their customers - U.S. importers and exporters - are denied the benefits of a competitive market for this essential service," the letter states. "We have already seen that the carriers can use their antitrust immunity to reduce service options and abrogate their contract terms."
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