FMC Approves East Coast Port Gateway Terminal Agreement - Global Trade Magazine
  April 11th, 2017 | Written by

FMC Approves East Coast Port Gateway Terminal Agreement

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  • Agreement allows port authorities to discuss marketing, best practices, and optimizing service offerings.
  • Agreement does not permit the Virginia and Georgia port authorities to set terminal charges.
  • Georgia and Virginia are not the first terminal operators to file with the FMC to share information.

Port authorities in Virginia and Georgia will be allowed to engage in discussions about a variety of commercial and operational topics as a result of the Federal Maritime Commission last Friday voting to allow the East Coast Port Gateway Terminal Agreement to go into effect.

The Virginia Port Authority and the Georgia Ports Authority filed their agreement with the Commission on February 24, 2017. The application set into motion a 45-day review period — including a 12-day public comment period — by the FMC. The approved agreement encourages the exchange of information and best practices in five areas of operational and supply chain efficiencies, safety, communications and customer service. Their agreement becames effective Monday, April 10.

The agreement encourages voluntary cooperation in the areas of operational and supply chain efficiencies, safety, communications and customer service. The agreement will enable the member ports to work together to find ways to become more efficient and effective, which will benefit the citizens of their respective states, as well as shippers and carriers. The port authorities will be able to discuss matters related to joint marketing; the acquisition, utilization, and best practices relating to operating systems and equipment; cargo handling practices and terminal operations; and optimizing service offerings to ocean carriers.

This agreement does not permit the two port authorities to jointly negotiate, set, and approve terminal rates or charges.

“The East Coast Gateway Terminal Agreement is the latest example of port authorities and Metropolitan Transportation Organizations looking to the Shipping Act and the commission’s agreement authority as a way to improve service and operations which will ultimately benefit the American shipper and consumer,” said Acting Chairman Michael Khouri. “The ocean transportation services sector is a dynamic and competitive business where the marketplace drives innovation. The port authorities in Virginia and Georgia are responding to a changing industry.”

“Our industry is changing rapidly and as a result increased collaboration between ports is necessary to provide the service excellence our customers expect and deserve,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director. “It is clear that both Georgia and Virginia are East Coast gateway ports and this step further allows us to create jobs, economic development and improve safety. I would like to thank our respective employees and partners in the ILA as we move forward together.”

“The agreement enables Georgia and Virginia to work together to find ways to become more efficient and effective, which will benefit the citizens of our respective states, as well as shippers and the carriers,” said VPA CEO and Executive Director John Reinhart. “We are making significant investments at our respective ports to handle the larger vessels and cargo volumes coming to the East Coast. Now we will begin discussing about how to best leverage these assets, collectively and position Georgia and Virginia as the East Coast’s primary cargo gateways.”

Georgia and Virginia are not the first terminal operators to file with the FMC to share information. In December 2016, APM Terminals, DP World, Hutchinson Port Holdings, PSA International, Shanghai International Port (Group) Co., and the Port of Rotterdam Authority filed the Global Ports Group Agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of the container port industry.

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