The Federal Maritime Commission is now requiring the three global carrier alliances (2M, THE, and OCEAN) to file certain carrier-specific trade data on a monthly basis, as opposed to the previous practice of submitting them quarterly.
The Commission’s Bureau of Trade Analysis (BTA) has traditionally relied on a combination of individual vessel operator confidentially provided data and information from commercially available industry data to monitor and analyze container carrier freight rates and service market trends. The Commission’s BTA has determined that given recent fluctuations in the markets, they need to receive key trade data directly from alliance carriers on a more frequent basis in order to better position staff economists to timely evaluate changes in the transpacific and transatlantic trades and report findings to the Commission.
A core function of the FMC is the monitoring of ocean carrier alliance agreements filed with the agency. The FMC receives and evaluates exhaustive, commercially sensitive information from regulated entities, in this case, parties to an ocean carrier alliance agreement. That information is carefully analyzed, along with other information that permits FMC staff to determine trends in the marketplace and the potential for illegal behavior.
Field Visit to Galveston & Port Everglades
Commissioner Louis Sola conducted a field visit to Galveston, Texas around mid-November and to Port Everglades, Florida, in early November. These visits are part of his ongoing work leading the Fact Finding 30 examination of COVID-19 related impacts to the passenger cruise industry.
Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise port in North America, and more than 65% of the port’s annual revenue is tied to serving the passenger vessel sector. Thus, it has been adversely affected by the cessation of cruise ship operations.
Commissioner Sola reported that the practices and protocols Galveston has in place make them ready to safely accept cruise passengers as soon as the ships are ready to sail. The port’s Infectious Disease Response Team facilitates ongoing discussion and coordination among more than one dozen different local, state, and federal agencies. The port has also worked with the Galveston County Health District and the University of Texas Medical Branch to establish debarkation procedures for any passengers or crew showing symptoms of infection.
The port of Galveston has established screening and quarantine locations within each of its two cruise terminals. Additionally, it has upgraded to touch-less bathroom fixtures, installed plexiglass shields in customer service areas, and enhanced air handling systems. The port has also established new protocols that will limit physical proximity between passengers while in Galveston’s cruise terminals.
The cruise industry generated $59.4 million in Fiscal Year 2019 for Port Everglades, representing fully one-third of the port’s total revenues. While the cessation of cruise sailings has led to lost revenues for this year, Port Everglades executives told Commissioner Sola they are pursuing projects designed to accommodate larger cruise vessels and increase operational efficiencies.
Port Everglades also serves the container shipping industry. It is undertaking the Southport Turning Notch Extension project to serve more and larger cargo ships. The $470 million project is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
“Florida is the home to America’s passenger cruise industry, a business that is a vital economic driver to cities throughout the state. The briefing provided by the Port Everglades leadership was beneficial for my ongoing work on Fact Finding 30. I am also grateful for the discussion we had about the cargo business at their facility and how trade growth will benefit southern Florida,” said Commissioner Sola.