The first-ever MOU between the two agencies.

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission and the Department of Justice have signed an agreement to increase cooperation and communication in oversight and enforcement responsibilities of the ocean liner shipping industry.

The interagency Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the FMC and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, marking the first-ever MOU between the two agencies. It comes in response to President Biden’s Executive Order cracking down on anti-competitive behavior. One initiatives included in the order directs the Federal Maritime Commission to take steps to protect American exporters from high costs imposed by the ocean carriers and crack down on “unjust and unreasonable fees,” including detention and demurrage charges that have soared during the pandemic.

The MOU establishes a framework for the FMC and the Antitrust Division to continue regular discussions and review law enforcement and regulatory matters affecting competition in the shipping industry. The MOU also provides for information and expertise exchanges between the agencies that may be relevant and useful in meeting their oversight and enforcement responsibilities. Such exchanges would be conducted in a manner appropriate and consistent with applicable legal and confidentiality restrictions.

Collaboration is important to ensure healthy competition in the maritime industry

“The Federal Maritime Commission has an important enforcement role as an economic regulator of a vital industry. As such, we will continually assess how the agency can improve its capacity to protect the integrity of the marketplace. This memorandum between the Commission and the Department of Justice supplements and strengthens the FMC’s ability to detect, address, and pursue violations of the law or anticompetitive behavior by those we regulate,” said Chairman Maffei.

“Collaboration between the Antitrust Division and the FMC is important to ensuring healthy competition in the maritime industry,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Powers. “Our partnership with the FMC is one of the many ways in which the Antitrust Division is prepared to play its role in achieving the competition objectives of the President’s Competition Executive Order.”