Protecting and promoting the collective interest of Asian Shippers and serving as a counterweight to liner shipping conferences to ensure fair trading and best practices in international trade
At the 2008 Global Shippers' Forum (GSF) meeting in Montreal, Canada, members affirmed their support and advancement of policies that foster customized economic partnerships between liner operators and their customers; effective and competitive security measures that will make supply chains safer and less vulnerable to terrorism; surcharges and ancillary charges that are individually determined and representative of actual costs; and adoption of programs that will enhance the environment without diminishing the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation networks necessary to move international commerce. GSF members also expressed their determination to act vigorously as a group throughout the year and to explore the possibility of scheduling meetings for the whole or part of the group between annual meetings.
The GSF discussions centered on and where appropriate recommended the following:
Maritime Regulatory Reform
GSF members strongly believe that European reforms repealing the liner block exemption as well as changes brought about in North America would provide comparable benefits for Asian countries, resulting in less influence by conferences and discussion agreements over rates and services;
Asian governments, while recognizing national differences, are encouraged to introduce market based principles as they apply to liner shipping. Competition between suppliers, rather than collusion, will result in efficiencies and customized services for their customers that are not possible where prices are determined by liner carriers in government sanctioned cartels. GSF recognizes that shippers and liner carriers, working together, can achieve competitive and efficient relationships;
As world leaders and influential trading partners throughout Asia, China and India are strongly encouraged to apply their antitrust laws to liner shipping. This application will result in market-based principles that can serve as a model for the region and the world;
Since the liner shipping industry has changed in the ten years since the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 was enacted, the U.S. is encouraged to undertake a comprehensive review of its own shipping laws to determine whether an antitrust exemption should continue to exist for liner carriers. GSF believes that anti-trust immunity as it relates to the ability of liner carriers to benchmark, discuss, set or fix rates, service terms and/or surcharges, is not necessary and should be terminated; and,
A review of possible modifications to and a campaign to increase general awareness of INCOTERMS to better define what charges fall to which parties' responsibility under which terms of sale should be undertaken in order to resolve conflicts and uncertainties between consignors, consignees, third parties and carriers. Suggested modifications would be submitted to the ICC through national shippers’ bodies.
Freight Transport / Supply Chain Security
Supply chain security should be based on a multi-layered approach which recognizes realistic threat assessments;
National security regimes must be mutually recognized among nations and must be compatible across national borders. Every effort must be made by industry and government to achieve this vital objective, so that we do not undermine the very supply chains that we seek to protect. International oversight of this process should be undertaken; and,
GSF members firmly reject the cost and effectiveness of 100% scanning of all cargoes.
GSF members endorse strong, coordinated efforts by international bodies and national governments around the world to eliminate piracy.
GSF members believe that visibility and transparency of surcharges and ancillaries in the shipping industry should be improved through the development of public information available to shippers and carriers;
Surcharges should only be temporary in nature, and should reflect only actual unexpected cost increases or decreases faced by suppliers. GSF strongly endorses educational efforts to include all surcharges and ancillaries in the total price paid for freight, to permit the proper recovery of all costs associated with the transport;
The application of surcharges and ancillaries must be justified and should be solely determined by an individual carrier. Under no circumstances should carriers be able to apply surcharges or ancillaries as an organized group, i.e. through a discussion agreement, or conference; and,
GSF strongly endorses educational efforts apprising shippers on the latest information and available remedies to address alleged and admitted activities by airlines and other parties to fix air cargo rates and fuel surcharges.
Government and industry attention must be focused on maintaining critical and vital infrastructure necessary for supporting international supply chains;
National governments are strongly encouraged to explore, with industry participation, all financing options to address the enormous challenges of creating, maintaining and expanding infrastructure necessary for the movement of international commerce; and,
Revenue from transport user charges and taxes should be directed to the transportation purpose for which they are collected.
GSF members believe that shippers, carriers and governments need to take into greater account the effect on the environment of the transportation of freight both nationally and internationally. They should take sustainable steps to protect the environment without compromising the efficiency of freight transport;
Governments should develop and actively support programs that reward best practices, adopt technology, or develop infrastructure that reduces the environmental impact of transport; and,
A punitive charge on transport users is not the proper method to protect the environment from the effects of freight transport.
The GSF strongly expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association (CITA) for organizing and hosting the 2008 meeting in Montreal, Canada. Without these efforts, the meeting would not have been able to achieve its high degree of successful discussions and productive results.
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