American-Flag Ship Operators Call For Policy That Works

Calling for a "national shipping policy that really works," the Council of American-Flag Ship Operators (CASO) has issued a strong statement supporting most of the provisions of H.R.11422, House Merchant Marine Committee Chairman John M. Murphy's bill which would s u b s t a n t i a l l y change the maritime regulatory laws of this country.

W.J. Amoss Jr., president of Lykes Bros. Steamship Co. and chairman of the board of CASO, the national association of American- flag lines operators, identified the multiple problems now facing the industry. He attributed the overtonnaging situation to "our singular national policy of maintaining wide-open access to the trade routes and foreign commerce of the U.S. for literally any and all international carriers wishing to enter the market." This, said Mr. Amoss, has led to the grim situation where private companies must try to compete with state-controlled carriers and government treasuries determined to buy their way into world shipping.

Mr. Amoss cited the Executive Department's longstanding failure to reckon with the realities of shipping practice abroad, and foreign countries' resentment of U.S. unilateral regulation of an international industry. Stressing the industry's concern with the erosion of Congressional intent as expressed in the 1916 Shipping Act, he urged the Congress and the Administration to persevere with the reexamination of basic policy now in progress. Mr. Amoss called for a "new declaration of principle and law" to resolve recent conflicts that are jeopardizing the future of the American merchant marine.

Reaffirming CASO's belief in the conference system as the best solution to the industry's problems, Mr. Amoss pledged the association's efforts to foster the development of a code of conference conduct f o r U.S. trades. This code would "give public assurance to our customers and to concerned governments of the standards by which we intend conference conduct and practice to be governed." He charged that our current system of law and institutional approach has kept shippers and carriers polarized over their inevitable differences, instead of finding ways "to work jointly toward a goal of trade expansion from which they and the country will profit." In a carefully detailed statement of position on the specific provisions of H.R.11422, CASO decisively declared the need for closed conferences, deferred rebates, or some other loyalty arrangement which would be "an improvement over the current dual rate system in its function as a tying device." He cited the need for some form of national shippers council that would embody "the principle of collective shipper-carrier consultation," and called for the extension of antitrust immunity to cover intermodal rate-making.

Mr. Amoss recommended against a mandatory right of independent action because it could be used by state-controlled carriers or others to destroy the conference system. Such a potentially disruptive and discriminatory device should be left as now for conferences to adopt on an optional basis, when it is necessary to meet c o m p e t i t i v e pressures.

CASO is opposed to immediate effectuation of Section 15 agree- ments and, in the interest of stability in foreign commerce, recommended a r e i n f o r c e m e n t of Congressional intent to permit their more ready approval. Rather than turning to the government for arbitration of conference / shippers councils disputes, CASO would prefer the provision of "mutually acceptable commercial arbitration machinery." The Council of American-Flag Ship Operators (CASO) was organized January 1, 1978, by eight U.S. liner companies who previously had been members of the Liner Council of the American Institute of Merchant Shipping (AIMS). W.J. Amoss Jr., president of Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., Inc., was elected chairman of the board of directors and James P. Horn, senior vice president of Farrell Lines Incorporated, vice chairman. Other board members include W.B. Seaton, president of American President Lines, Ltd.; Thomas J. Smith, president of Farrell Lines Incorporated ; Robert E. O'Brien, president and chief operating officer of Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc.; Spyros S. Skouras, chairman and chief executive officer of Prudential Lines, Inc.; J.R. Dant, president of States Steamship Company, and Edward J. Heine Jr., president of United States Lines, Inc.

Early CASO emphasis is being placed on attempting to identify and implement workable solutions to problems such as the dumping of excess third-flag tonnage in the U.S. foreign trade, rebating, and other malpractices which are having a significant adverse effect on the U.S. merchant fleet.

In addition, the Council will promote U.S.-flag shipping through close cooperation with shippers, government agencies, and various international organizations such as the International Chamber of Shipping and the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organization.

CASO is primarily concerned with the promotion and maintenance of a United States merchant marine-owned, operated, built and manned by United States citizens. Membership in CASO is open to all owners and operators of U.S.-flag vessels in the foreign and domestic trades.

Other stories from November 1978 issue


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