India is updating merchant shipping regulations and has outlined plans to regulate freight charges.
The draft Merchant Shipping Bill, posted online for public consultation, contains the following rules.
“Every service provider or agent, in respect of any Indian ship or other ship operating in coastal waters, in relation to import, export or domestic transportation, shall specify the all-inclusive freight in the bill of lading or any other transport document, in such mode and manner as may be notified.
“No service provider or agent shall levy any freight charges other than the all-inclusive freight specified in the bill of lading or other transport document. The Central government may prescribe the terms and conditions for issuance of the Bill of Lading or any other transport document.”
In October, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) urged the government to regulate the shipping industry to “protect the EXIM sector from sudden and abrupt changes in freight rates”.
The move by India is the latest in a series of Asian government interventions to try and rein in soaring freight rates.
Liner executives have been summoned to transport ministries in South Korea and China in recent months as rates on most tradelanes have skyrocketed in tandem with severe equipment shortages, meaning plenty of Asian exporters have struggled to get their products to international markets.