Dry CargoGreater ChinaOperations

Panama asks the IMO to resolve China’s coal carrier standoff with Australia

Panama, home to the world’s largest ship registry, has requested the collaboration of the secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, to mediate and assist seafarers and shipowners regarding the ongoing Australian coal carrier ban, which still sees 74 ships and more than 1,500 seafarers parked up for months waiting to discharge off the Chinese coastline.

Beijing and Canberra have been at loggerheads for many months with China slapping bans on many Australian products after the Australian government sought an international probe into the origins of coronavirus.

“Our mission in this regard is to find a reasonable and positive solution for the crew of these ships to return home,” said the minister of maritime affairs, Noriel Araúz.

The human rights and well-being of crews of these ships are being ignored

Araúz said that the IMO’s diplomatic powers “can help us expose before the competent authorities that due to a commercial disagreement, the human rights and well-being of the crews of these ships are being ignored”.

Many ships waiting to discharge in China have been stuck for more than nine months.

The International Labour Organisation’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has combed through the Maritime Labour Convention and judged that in a commercial dispute or disagreement, crews should not be involved, nor should their disembarkation be prevented, especially if their employment contract has expired.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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