Sinotrans Container Lines (SCL), a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Sinotrans, yesterday applied to United States regulatory officials to be freed from the rate-setting shackles of being labelled a state-owned carrier. China's No3 box carrier petitioned the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the governing body for US maritime trade, to remove its 'controlled carrier' status which requires the company to give 30 days notice before changing the per-unit rate it charges to carry cargo across the Pacific. The FMC requires the lengthy notice period for state-owned carriers largely because, with deep pockets and no shareholders to answer to, they are thought to have greater potential to act in a financially cavalier manner: for instance, by setting freight rates well below market levels to gain market share. Non-controlled carriers, those held by the private sector, have to give 24 hours notice before changing freight rates, giving them greater flexibility to respond to fluctuations in market demand. A 30-day waiting period can see carriers miss revenue opportunities, with demand fading before the line can capitalise. SCL is a small player on the transpacific trades. It operates four vessels, or space for about 12,000 containers, on weekly services from the mainland to ports on the US west coast. According to Michael Chan, lead transport analyst for Bank of China (International), the listed vehicle's revenue from container shipping last year was about 1.5 billion yuan (HK$1.4 billion), or 10 per cent of group sales, with an ebit (earnings before interest and tax) margin of 2 per cent. This included revenue from SCL's China coastal and intra-Asia services.