Savannah-Charleston chassis deal said to be price-fixing FMC must end
THE Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL), a group whose members own containers and container chassis, is objecting to an application by another group to set up a chassis leasing service centred on Savannah and Charleston
THE Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL), a group whose members own containers and container chassis, is objecting to an application by another group to set up a chassis leasing service centred on Savannah and Charleston.
In a letter to the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), which regulates agreements between ports, IICL lawyers say the application should be rejected because it is not 'complete and definite' as required by the Shipping Act of 1984 and it may reduce competition through price fixing.
The two ports announced last month they wanted to replace Consolidated Chassis Management's South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP), which covers the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, with a new pool to be called the Southern States Chassis Pool (SSCP), reports American Shipper.
The current pool has about 53,000 chassis, and Savannah's Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and Charleston's South Carolina Port Authority (SCPA) have said they believe there is a need for an additional 10,000 chassis in the pool.
But IICL members say the proposed changes would be a 'a price-setting agreement between two competing ports and a third party that would regulate the supply of and the price at which chassis' not owned by the ports are leased.
The South Carolina Ports Authority said the new pool will be operated by the North American Chassis Pool Cooperative (NACPC).
IICL says NACPC is a motor carrier-owned and -operated chassis pool cooperative approved by the Surface Transportation Board in 2013.
'NACPC is neither a marine terminal operator nor an ocean common carrier subject to regulation under the Shipping Act, and cannot receive antitrust immunity under the Shipping Act,' said the IICL lawyers.
They say the current pool 'chassis lessors compete aggressively with one another on the charges that they negotiate with the entities using their chassis. There is meaningful competition among the chassis providers and there are contractual commitments with some users that have volume considerations'.
Based on the agreement the two ports filed with the FMC and statements from the South Carolina Ports Authority, IICL said, 'It appears all of this competition will be eliminated.'