Global Shippers Alliance meets in Hong Kong
The first Global Shippers Alliance (GSA) meeting was held on November 16, 2015, in Hong Kong and hosted by The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council.
Alliance members include the American Association of Exporters and Importers, the Asian Shippers’ Alliance and the European Shippers’ Council. Members of the Asian Shippers’ Alliance also attended the meeting, including the China Shippers’ Association, The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, the Indonesian National Shippers’ Council, the Macau Shipper’s Association, the Shenzhen Shipper’s Association and the Thai National Shippers’ Council.
The meeting discussed the global economic outlook, the global freight market, Belt & Road, shipper-carrier relationships, surcharges, key performance indicators (KPI) for carriers, best carrier awards, trade facilitation and SOLAS amendments on mandatory container weighing.
Global Economic Outlook
The meeting noted the weak outlook for the global economy and called for further trade facilitation and enhancement of supply chain efficiency to reduce logistics costs.
Global Freight Market
Concern was expressed at the high uncertainty caused by the current depressed freight market. Members shared the view that the rollercoaster freight rate changes of the past few years were undesirable for both shippers and liners. The meeting agreed that reform in freight structure and service innovations would be needed to achieve a more stable freight market.
Belt and Road
The meeting noted the opportunities for commerce in regions along the Belt & Road and recognized that while investment and finance may take the lead, there would be ample opportunities for trading and logistics. It was decided to keep a close watch on developments and disseminate relevant information to members and associates.
The meeting also noted that more surcharges that were originally part of freight rate were being collected by carriers and freight forwarders from FOB exporters that have no contract relation with carriers and many of these surcharges were “unreasonable” and “unjustifiable”. The meeting supported simplification of surcharge structures that should be temporary in nature and the incorporation of surcharges into an all-in freight rate. Accordingly, the meeting backed the recent action of China’s Ministry of Communication which called for the rationalization of surcharges and a review of surcharge structures. The meeting noted that some liners had combined some surcharges and reduced the levels of some surcharges, yet the surcharge list was still far too long and that the charge level of the main charge item, the Terminal Handling Charge which was traditionally included in the CY-CY freight rate liner term, remained unchanged.
Since most of the liners’ surcharges are arbitrary in nature, unreasonable and unjustifiable, it is hard for the shippers to accommodate the surcharges, the meeting urges all governments to regulate and rationalize the surcharges as Sri Lankan Government did in 2014.
Best Carrier Awards
The carrier award projects organized by the Thai National Shippers’ Council and European Shippers’ Council were acknowledged as a step in the right direction, having clearly laid out the expectations and demands of shippers for carriers. They have, it was agreed, provided the foundation for a better shipper-carrier partnership. GSA will engage in the dialogue with the airfreight industry to discuss the future of airfreight.
The meeting considered that shippers and carriers should look to establish better understanding and communication and called for more dialogue, like that which would take place during the Shipper-Liner Dialogue session at the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference on November 18, 2015, in the future to enhance communication.
The meeting supported more countries adopting the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to become international law, and supports the WTO’s effort to increase transparency and predictability while reducing barriers to global trade.
SOLAS Amendments on Mandatory Container Weighing
The progress of implementation of SOLAS amendments on mandatory container weighing was discussed and members at the meeting urged the authorities to undertake active consultation of the trade before finalizing the details of implementation. The meeting further discussed the possibility of alignment of requirements globally, but agreed that it would be better for the authorities to construct their own regimes that best suit their legislative and operational environment and requirements.
Working Plan 2016
GSA will come up with a working plan on maritime, airfreight and trade facilitation for 2016 including surcharges, container weighing, KPIs, Single-Window Developments, mutual recognition of security systems, coordinated border management, and e-freight.