• ITVI.USA
    15,845.180
    -15.980
    -0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.806
    0.013
    0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.590
    0.130
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,846.760
    -20.840
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,845.180
    -15.980
    -0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.806
    0.013
    0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.590
    0.130
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,846.760
    -20.840
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

SOLAS container weight rule to be discussed at Congressional hearing

The House subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation will hear testimony on April 14 about the International Maritime Organization’s controversial verified gross mass requirement, which goes into effect July 1.

   The controversy over the requirement that shippers provide the verified gross mass of containers before they are loaded on ships will get some high level exposure during a congressional hearing next week.
   The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing April 14 that will include testimony about the requirement, which goes into effect July 1 under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention approved by the International Maritime Organization in 2014.
   Some shippers say it will be difficult, if not impossible, to comply with the rule or that it could cause congestion at ports and snarl supply chains.
   The committee did not provide full details on the hearing, the topic of which is listed as “Maritime Transportation Safety and Stewardship Programs,” but the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) said the hearing is expected to include testimony from Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, who has been the Coast Guard’s point man on the issue; John Butler, the president and chief executive officer of the World Shipping Council, the primary trade organization for the liner shipping industry and a supporter of the rule; and Donna Lemm, vice president sales and marketing at Mallory Alexander, who has been leading efforts by AgTC to find a way to make the regulation workable for U.S. exporters.
   AgTC, which represents agriculture and forest products exporters and importers, said the container weight amendment “is not simply a technical maritime matter, but rather, will have a significant impact on U.S. export competitiveness and the U.S. economy, at a time that the Federal Reserve Board and others are concerned about the health of U.S. exports and the drag on the U.S. economy.”
   AgTC complained that the World Shipping Council, not a direct ocean carrier employee would speak at the hearing, characterizing Butler as a “Washington, D.C. attorney.”
   “We need to move past this lawyer-driven adversarial situation; the SOLAS container weight issue is an opportunity to do so and can be resolved if the individual carriers meet directly with their customers, the U.S. exporters, to develop a rational means of implementation that does not inflict such injury on their customers and the US export economy,” the group said.
   “This ‘business to business agreement’ has been advocated by the U.S. Coast Guard as well,” it added. “AgTC members are ready and eager to engage directly with carriers. Leave the lawyers at home!”
   AgTC is asking Congress to support its call for allowing exporters to comply with the SOLAS rule by certifying the weight of the cargo and dunnage, and making the the steamship line responsible for certifying the weight of the container, rather than the shipper being responsible for both weights.
   It also said it wants to Congress to “determine how a change in ocean shipping practices of such magnitude as this SOLAS rule, can be imposed on the U.S., without any prior Congressional notice, review or approval,” order a review of the rule by the Federal Maritime Commission, and see if the Coast Guard, as the U.S. representative to the IMO, can get the rule revised or revoked.
    In response to the AgTC statement, the World Shipping Council said, “We look forward discussing the facts about the important safety issue of having accurate weights for packed containers being loaded on the ships that carry the import and export commerce of the United States.”
   “We are surprised that AgTC, which began asking carriers last fall to specify information transmittal methods for the required weight information, is now upset because carriers have responded to their request,” it added. “Specifically, in an October 2015, Journal of Commerce article entitled ‘What will IMO weight regulations mean for US exporters?’, Ms. Lemm, said, ‘The primary concern is that there is no standard process that carriers are using to implement this regulation.’”
   “Carriers have made substantial progress in addressing that concern, and they continue to work with customers to make sure that implementation goes smoothly,” WSC said.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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