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FMC reviewing request for cargo diversion inquiry

2011-09-14

The Federal Maritime Commission is still reviewing on how to respond to a recent request from two Washington State senators to conduct an inquiry into alleged container cargo diversion from U.S. west coast ports to British Columbia's Port Metro Vancouver and Prince Rupert as a result of the federal Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) and other factors.

Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell sent a letter of request on August 29 to FMC Chairman Richard Lidinsky (pictured in photo) for the FMC "to conduct an analysis of the impacts and extent to which the HMT and other factors impact container cargo diversion from U.S. West Coast ports to west coast Canadian and Mexican ports, as well as offer legislative and regulatory recommendations to address this concern."

Lowry Crook, Chief of Staff in the office of the Commission, indicated that the FMC has not yet formally decided on how to proceed. "There could be a range of responses, from studying the issue to a notice of inquiry and a fact-finding investigation."

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Canadian port circles and CN assail proposed FMC cargo diversion inquiry

2011-09-12

Canadian port interests and Canadian National Railway have sharply questioned the justification of an eventual inquiry by the Federal Maritime Commission that has been requested by Washington State Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell on the impact that the federal Harbor Maintenance Tax "and other factors" may have on container cargo diversion from U.S. West Coast ports to West Coast Canadian and Mexican ports.

Earlier this summer, FMC Chairman Richard Lidinsky (pictured in photo) was reported in the U.S. trade media to have remarked "it is a very complicated issue, involving the Harbor Maintenance Tax, weaker container inspections, NAFTA" - and the "possible subsidy of cargo rail moves through Canada to the U.S. border near Chicago."

He added he had been told shippers can realize an average $137 savings per container by shipping cargo through Canada and avoiding the Harbour Maintenance Tax.

Gary LeRoux, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, declared: "I challenge the fundamental question of why one even gets into such a debate when free trade is the very foundation of the Canada-U.S. economic relationship."

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AAPA's Nagle urges Washington to invest more in port security

2011-09-07

A decade after 9/11, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has expressed concern over the potential impact of proposed big federal budget cuts on U.S. port security progress.

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle recalled that for centuries, seaports have constituted a vital part of U.S. transportation infrastructure - "and safe, secure seaport facilities are critical to protecting our borders and moving goods.

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CSL doubles new vessel order

2011-09-08

Canada Steamship Lines announced on September 7 it is exercising its option for the building of two new self-unloading vessels at a Chinese shipyard - thus bringing to four the number of ships ordered for its big fleet renewal program.

"This is a major investment in our company, in our customers and in Canada," commented Tom Brodeur, VP Marketing at CSL. "These ships will introduce a new level of operational efficiency and environmental performance to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Waterway, while providing jobs for Canadian seafarers for the next 25 to 30 years."

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CMA CGM suspends Halifax service

2011-09-06

As result of difficult market conditions, French carrier CMA CGM has announced the suspension of direct calls to Halifax as part of its Black Pearl service to South America and Kingston, Jamaica. Last southbound sailing of the MV Pearl River from Halifax is scheduled for Sept. 19.

The MV Pearl River (pictured in photo) had inaugurated this service with a call at Halterm terminal in December 2010.

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