TSA formalizes shipper advisory panel
The Transpacific Stabilization Agreement said Monday it has started a shipper advisory board 'to strengthen the overall shipper-carrier relationship and improve collaboration on key issues affecting their respective industries.'
The announcement follows a similar board assembled to advise carriers on the westbound transpacific lane. It also comes as a new bill in the U.S. Congress seeks to eliminate the power of liner carriers to participate in discussion agreements.
TSA's membership includes all but a few of the world's largest container lines and its 15 members control a huge share of eastbound transpacific capacity.
The advisory board was first suggested by customers at a forum convened by TSA earlier this year.
'It provides a long-needed platform for candid, senior-level dialogue to address the unique concerns of transpacific shippers and carriers,' the TSA said in a statement. 'Participating shippers represent the major retail market segments of the Asia/U.S. trade, including apparel and footwear, sporting goods, consumer electronics, home furnishings, toys, general department store merchandise and transportation intermediaries.
'An advisory board formalizes a process for shippers and carriers to engage directly on short-term issues of mutual concern, as well as broader, longer-term developments facing our industries and the transpacific market,' said Y.M. Kim, TSA chairman and Hanjin Shipping chief executive officer. 'It facilitates mutual understanding and allows us to jointly pursue solutions and best practices in our contracting, operations and business processes, and in our communications on a day-to-day basis.'
The TSA didn't release the names of all the participants on the advisory panel, but quoted one member, C.H. Robinson.
'We believe it's a unique opportunity to promote greater collaboration and seek sustainable solutions that are beneficial to all,' said Kenneth Sine, C.H. Robinson's director of ocean services. 'We're looking forward to our participation and to working with such an important group of shippers on these critical topics.'
TSA Executive Administrator Brian M. Conrad called the initiative especially valuable now, as the transpacific trade emerges from global recession and a fractious period of tight vessel space, equipment shortages and volatile rates.
'Shippers and carriers have been through a difficult time and need to mend fences,' Conrad said. 'But more importantly, the recession revealed operational challenges in the trade that are unsustainable as supply chains become increasingly sophisticated and complex, and that all parties need to work together to solve.'
Advisory board members have identified key areas of interest — from service issues, slow steaming to port infrastructure and the contracting process — and are assigning priorities for the coming year, the TSA added. ' Eric Johnson