Container Weighing to be Mandatory

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is expected to make a mandatory requirement to verify the gross weight of containers before they are loaded on board a vessel.

The purpose is to make the entire container supply chain safer. This regulation is expected to be issued through the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention) as a result of a number of accidents involving container losses and container stack collapses. The existing SOLAS regulation already obliges shippers to declare the correct container weights, but this is not always done.

The mis-declaration of container weights has been an issue that has concerned many in the shipping industry for some time. The SOLAS amendment will require all containers to be either be directly weighted to confirm the shippers declared weigh or to use a method of “calculated” verification whereby the shippers can weigh all packages and cargo items including pallets, dunnage and the tare (unladen weight) of the container to confirm the weight.

It is important to note that the regulation is anticipated to forbid the loading of containers unless the verified gross mass is available to the terminal and the ship’s master.

This compromise solution will disappoint many that wanted all containers to be actually weighed but some argued that it would not be possible in some countries to weigh each container.

The draft guidelines agreed by the IMO Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargo and Containers sub-committee in September 2013 will now be put forward to IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee for approval in May 2014 and hopefully to be adopted in November 2014, so that they can come into force before May 2016. The amendments would add new paragraphs to SOLAS regulation VI/2 Carriage of Cargos, Regulation 2 – Cargo information. An exemption would apply to containers carried on a chassis or trailer driven on or off a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages.


China and Russia will build transport corridor to Crimea

According to Itar-Tass,  China and Russia are expected to sign an agreement during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Shanghai next week for joint construction of a $1.2-3 billion transport corridor to Crimea via the Black Sea’s Kerch Strait.

State-owned China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) as well as private investment fund China International Fund Ltd (CIF) will participate in the project. The latter may participate in the funding. Currently, the Russian Transport Ministry is preparing to sign a memorandum on construction.

Preliminary documentation for the construction should be elaborated by May 30; the financial scheme and construction model will be developed in July. The project may involve major Russian companies: almost all leading players engaged in infrastructure construction confirmed their interest in the project.

The Russian Ministry of Transportation is currently preparing a memorandum on the construction and the final plans will be revealed later this month.

The project envisages either a bridge to carry rail and road traffic, or for part of the route to pass through a subterranean tunnel.

The total project cost is estimated at 45.4 billion rubles ($1.27 billion), with China being the first foreign investor in Crimea since its accession to Russia.

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Modern marine equipment rules for safer ships are adoped by EU

According to the official press release, the European Parliament has adopted the Commission’s proposed new Directive on marine equipment.
Better rules on marine equipment in the EU will result in safer journeys for the ships and their crew, less red tape for Member States, reduced costs for business, and increased competitiveness of the EU industry.

The law that has been adopted contains three main innovations. First, the possibility to introduce an electronic tag or electronic wheel mark. Secondly, administrative simplification: a simpler system for the transposition of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirements into EU law will decrease the administrative burden on Member States. Furthermore, clear and harmonised rules across the EU will strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s industry. And lastly, the new directive addresses the problems encountered in the current Directive, which dates from 1996, such as weak market surveillance, as well as obligations for manufacturers, importers and distributors.

Source: Europa

Cyprus Port Workers Back on Strike After Easter

The employees at Limassol port will resume their  strike  immediately after the Easter holidays, after strained last-minute talks with the Ministry of Labour failed to produce an agreement.

The port workers held a 24-hour warning strike on Monday, protesting against salary cuts and reduction in working hours. The workers are demanding their annual pay rise that is included in the collective agreements, as well as their 14th salaries.

On Tuesday morning Limassol port  reopened for business after port workers decided to suspend their strike following the intervention of Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou.

Three ships were to be serviced on Wednesday  and 1,200 containers unloaded. Four more ships are expected to be serviced on Thursday while hundreds of containers wait to be loaded for export.

Similar strikes two months ago halted all commercial activity in and out of the island as trade unions objected to government plans to proceed with the privatisation of semi-government organisations, including the Cyprus Ports Authority, over the next four years.

Please be guided accordingly. RCL Agency will provide more details once available.

WTO in Trade Barrier Agreement

According to the official press release, the members of the World Trade Organisation signed the group’s first trade reform agreement in Bali Indonesia this month. The agreement is designed to remove international trade barriers , which could add $1 trillion to the global economy.

The agreement is a milestone for the 159 members of the W.T.O., which was created in 1995. As  director general Roberto Azevedo said, “we have put the world back into the World Trade Organisation. For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered”

The centrepiece of the agreement is measures to ease barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more transparent. Analysts estimate that it could eventually bolster the world economy by billions of dollars and create more than 20 million jobs, mostly in developing countries. But some critics claimed WTO rules might hinder countries from setting their own priorities in environmental protection, worker rights, food security and other areas. Concerns have also been raised that sudden reductions in import tariffs could wipe out industries, causing job losses in rich and poor countries.

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FMC Reaches Agreement in Civil Penalties

The Federal Maritime Commission has completed seven compromise agreements, recovering a total of $617,500 in civil penalties. The agreements were reached with nine non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and freight forwarders located in the U.S. and abroad. Among these companies are East-West Logistics, Versatile International Corp. (DBA King Yang Shipping), Whale Logistics, Koil (DBA VShip Co.), China International Freight, UTi United States, Top Shipping Logistics, City Ocean Logistics and City Ocean International.

The penalties resulted from alleged violations of the Shipping Act of 1984, after FMC’s area representatives conducted investigations in the Seattle, South Florida, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. headquarters offices. Bureau of Enforcement staff attorneys negotiated the deals, and the parties settled and agreed to penalties, although they did not admit to violations of the Shipping Act.

Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero said in a written statement “The commission remains committed to protecting the shipping public from unfair and deceptive practices”.

Some of the compromise agreements included allegations of mis-describing commodities shipped under certain service contracts to avoid higher rates, allegations of obtaining transportation under contracts to which it was not a party and providing liner transportation for rates not in accordance its published tariffs, failing to maintain a general tariff covering all points or ports on its own routes and established through transportation routes . The full description of the agreements can be found on the FMC official website.

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EU Trade Agreement With Costa Rica, El Salvador Comes into Effect October 1st

The European Commission has announced that Trade barriers between the European Union, Costa Rica and El Salvador will be removed on Oct. 1, when the trade pillar of the EU-Central America Association Agreement enters into application for these countries. The EU and Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama have been applying the Agreement since August 1.

The association agreement between the EU and Central America contains three pillars — political dialogue, development cooperation and trade —  that aim to support economic growth, democracy and political stability in Central America.

The Agreement also sets out rules for public procurement, the protection of intellectual property, and the removal of technical barriers to trade. It introduces a system of consultation at a number of levels, to allow for an open dialogue on specific trade concerns, and contains a bilateral dispute settlement mechanism.

As EU Trade Commissioner  Karel  De Gucht said “The agreement will be a major stimulus for the economic integration of Central America. Now it’s up to companies on both sides to take full advantage of the many opportunities the deal offers.”

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Riga Freeport Gets Development Loan

As the Baltic News reports, the Nordea Bank Finland Latvian branch and Pohjola Bank have signed a loan agreement granting Riga Freeport Authority 80.2 million euros (LVL 56.4 million).  The funding will be allotted to implement the port’s infrastructure development project – moving the port’s activities from the city’s center to the northern part of Krievu Island.

This is a very important project for the Freeport Authority, covering considerable changes in the city’s infrastructure. The main goals of this project are to free the city’s historic downtown area from cargo handling operations and their negative environmental impact; maintaining the port’s competitiveness; and facilitating an attractive business environment.

The decision to implement the project of Krievu Island was adopted in 2009. Bidding was completed in 2012 and the contract was won by the construction company BMGS S. The cost of the project will be 104 million lats, of which 54 million lats is financed by the EU. The European Union’s funds, as well as support from leading figures in Latvia’s financial sector, indicate the importance of the project.

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EU Proposal for Regulation of Ship Emissions

According to The Shipping Herald, on 28 June 2013, the European Commission published its finalized proposal fora European Union (EU) regulation on Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions from ships. The regulation, No. 525/2013, is introduced further to the EU’s Climate and Energy Package  adopted on 23 April 2009)  which seeks international agreement including emission reduction targets through the IMO or the UNFCCC.

The regulation will apply to certain vessels conducting voyages into, out of and between EU ports and will require annual reporting of their CO2 emissions in line with a verified monitoring plan. The purpose of the regulation is to provide reliable information on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within maritime transport. As a first step the regulation is intended to focus on and establish CO2 emissions which will then allow the EU to define reduction targets associated with this and finally the means to achieve those reduction targets, as appropriate.

A monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) plan for GHG emissions provides a standard framework to produce a GHG emissions inventory, which may form part of a regulated GHG emissions reduction plan and therefore is the basis for setting a GHG reduction trajectory or may be applied voluntarily across an industry specific sector to develop an emissions inventory. The EU proposal for an MRV regulation focuses on CO2 only at this stage, recognizing that, despite estimates, the amount of CO2 from vessels is unknown. The Commission’s view is  that a system for monitoring and reporting these emissions is a pre-requisite before the introduction of any further energy efficiency measures or GHG reduction measures.

The regulation will apply to all ships greater than 5,000 GRT undertaking one or more voyages into, out of and between EU ports and will require per-voyage and yearly monitoring of CO2 emissions, as well as other parameters including energy efficiency metrics. Annually, ‘companies’ (DOC holder) must provide an emissions report for the previous calendar year’s activity. In addition, this will include the technical efficiency of the ship (the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) or the Estimated Index Value (EIV) in accordance with IMO Resolution MEPC.215 (63), where applicable).

If the regulation is approved by both the European Council and European Parliament, then it will enter into force on 1 July 2015.

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US Trucking Tonnage Index Increases

As the Journal of Commerce reports, the American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Trucking Tonnage Index jumped 2.3 percent to 126.0 in May.  This is  the highest level on record, surpassing the previous high in December 2011(124.3).

Compared with May 2012, the index increased 6.7 percent, which is the largest year-over-year gain since December 2011. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index rose 4.5 percent.

As  Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist said that “some of the increase was driven by increased factory output in May, as well as retail sales that performed stronger than expected for the month.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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