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‘Spectre of anticompetitive behaviour’: FMC weighs in on impending SOLAS container rules

The vexing issue of SOLAS container weighing rules, which are set to come into existence on July 1, has just got a whole lot more controversial. The US’s Federal Maritime Commission chairman Mario Cordero warned yesterday that liners must adhere to the new rules or else face a possible investigation into “anticompetitive behavior”.

In the run up to the July 1 implementation date, shippers and carriers have persistenly voiced concerns over missing details of the SOLAS requirements such as how the weights are verified, who will bear the extra costs and what information is provided to the lines.

Cordero put forth a solution yesterday. “Using the weight taken at the terminal gate is a simple and efficient solution for assuring the continued smooth flow of export cargoes,” Cordero said in a statement. Failure to smoothly adopt the new rules, Cordero said, could spark the commission to relook at containerlines’ possible anticompetitive behaviour.

John Butler, president of the World Shipping Council, hit back, saying yesterday: “Marine terminals are not the only solution, and not all marine terminals are offering these services.”
As of July 1, only containers with a verified gross mass will be allowed to be loaded onboard a vessel (although IMO is allowing a grace period of three months).

Although the new SOLAS requirement was adopted in 2014, many shippers and forwarders are still unprepared, and masters will have little choice but to refuse unverified containers.

Short-term supply chain disruptions are likely, a report from the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) out this week has warned.

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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.

Comments

  1. This is difficult to comprehend Sam.

    Are we saying that all complying to the same rules is not “anti-competitive”, but doing something different is?

    Whatever it means, it is maybe also about 12 months overdue!

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