CHINA AFFIRMS OPENNESS OF NEW MARITIME REGULATIONS
Dr. Zhang Guofa, deputy director-general for the Department of Water Transport in China’s Ministry of Communication, said his country’s newly developed maritime transportation rules meet today’s international shipping market practices.
“There are no restrictions in the regulations,” Zhang said at a press briefing in Washington Friday. “When we were drafting the regulations, we borrowed from the experiences of both the U.S. and European Union.”
Zhang was accompanied by other members of the Ministry of Communications last week in Washington to gain a better understanding of U.S. maritime regulations and policies as China prepares the implementation rules for its new international maritime regulations. The delegation was invited to Washington after U.S. government officials, led by Maritime Administrator William G. Schubert, concluded similar talks in Beijing in March.
During the visit, the Chinese delegation met with staff from the Maritime Administration and Federal Maritime Commission, in addition to Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, chairman the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The delegation also met with a handful of U.S. industry groups, such as the National Industrial Transportation League, National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America and the New York Freight Forwarders Association, with an interest in the new China’s new international maritime regulations.
Zhang said the talks with MarAd and FMC resulted in a better understanding of both countries’ maritime agendas. “The Ministry of Communications in China has placed great importance on developing a maritime relationship with the U.S.,” he said.
The Chinese delegation made it clear to U.S. government and industry officials that there would be “no restrictions” to change liner services in the country’s ports. The ocean carriers only have to file a 15-day prior notice about the changes with the Ministry of Communications.
The Chinese delegation also addressed the rules for non-vessel-operating common carriers in China. NVOs must register a bill of lading with the Ministry of Communications and make a deposit of RMB 800,000 yuan ($96,000) in Chinese banks for security purposes.
“The meetings with the Chinese delegation were helpful in the sense that they provided us with a clearer indication of where they’re going with their new liner rules,” said Peter Gatti, vice president of international policy for the National Industrial Transportation League.
Other important areas of China’s new international maritime regulations that were clarified by the delegation last week included:
*The Ministry of Communications’ commitment to uphold confidentiality of service contracts terms negotiated between ocean carriers and their customers and to take legal action against violators.
*The Ministry of Communications’ assurance that the rules would not interfere with carrier and customer pricing structures.
*The Ministry of Communication’s commitment to put its new international maritime regulations in line, as much as possible, with the U.S. and EU maritime laws.
To the relief of many industry officials, the Ministry of Communications said it would postpone, for now, the requirement to file ocean carrier and NVO tariffs, and that China’s new international maritime transportation rules would not apply to ocean shipping in Hong Kong and Macau
Zhang made no promises of when the Ministry of Communications would have the implementation rules ready. However, he said that once the implementation rules are announced, interested parties would have a 20-day window to provide the Chinese government with comments.
Meanwhile, some aspects of China’s new international maritime law have taken effect, such as the registration of ocean carriers and NVOs.
Also during the talks, the Chinese delegation had the opportunity to voice its views on international maritime security regulations and the U.S. Controlled Carrier Act.
Before returning to China Tuesday, April 30, the Chinese delegation said it would visit the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., to learn more about the U.S. merchant marine education and training programs.