China tightening liner conference rules
China is set to require liner conferences and freight discussion agreements involved in services calling at its ports to negotiate any rate or surcharge adjustments with Chinese shippers, according to an announcement from the country’s Ministry of Communication (MOC).
While the implementation deadlines of the new rules are vague, they will require the relevant carrier groups to designate a representative within the Chinese territory before April 15 and pass that contact information on to press agencies selected by the MOC.
Also, the conferences and discussion agreements will be expected to “establish effective consultation mechanism with shippers or shippers’ associations within the Chinese territory, so as to have extensive and effective consultation on issues like the adjustment of items of charges, the adjustment of freight rates, the adjustment of surcharges and other related issues.”
Carriers themselves will have the responsibility of submitting photocopies of the agreements written in Chinese to the MOC 15 days before they become effective, either individually or through the conference’s China-based representative.
Any adjustments to the agreement will need to be justified, as well as include details of the consultation with the Chinese shippers’ associations, otherwise the MOC will refuse filing.
The MOC said it is bringing the rules in to make conferences and discussion agreements comply with China’s Regulations on International Maritime Transportation, introduced in March 2003.
A spokesman from the Far Eastern Freight Conference, whose members transport millions of containers to and from China each year, told American Shipper he was surprised by the scope of the announcement. “This has not been thought through. China is not geared up to handle rate filing right now,” he said.
The FEFC already has a legal representative based in Beijing, who has been asked to contact the MOC for more details and timings.
The full announcement from the MOC is available at: http://www.moc.gov.cn/06shuiyuns/guojihy/200703/t20070319_202937.html.