White House Seeks Input on U.S. Shipping Regulations

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Published May 18, 2018 6:04 PM by Paul Benecki

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is soliciting public input on ways to reduce regulatory costs and restrictions on the American maritime industry. In particular, it is asking for recommendations regarding merchant ships and opportunities for "increased regulatory cooperation between the United States and foreign partners, especially Canada and Mexico."

Consistent with President Donald Trump's focus on deregulation, OIRA is gathering comments on how "agency requirements affecting the maritime sector can be modified or repealed to increase efficiency, reduce or eliminate unnecessary or unjustified regulatory burdens, or simplify regulatory requirements," subject to statutory limitations. The request for information will be used to inform other agencies' reform proposals. 

OIRA is interested in comments on how to achieve "meaningful burden reduction" for the maritime sector across all relevant federal agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security (USCG and CBP), Transportation (MARAD), Commerce, and Interior (BOEM), along with the EPA and FMC. OIRA is particulary interested in regulatory reform for "cargo or passenger vessels," though it will also welcome comments regarding other areas of the industry. 

In examples of areas that could be considered for regulatory reform, OIRA's solicitation raised vessel flagging, manning, reporting, and equipment. It also discussed briefly the possibility of online seafarer training and certification, along with other ways of leveraging technology to streamline compliance. 

Separately, OIRA is seeking ideas for "increased regulatory cooperation between the United States and foreign partners, especially Canada and Mexico, to relieve burden on the industry." In particular, it is looking for comments on any inconsistent rules imposed by the U.S., Canada or Mexico that create a barrier to commerce, with particular regard to reporting requirements on the Great Lakes. The U.S. Trade Representative is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.