Global Shippers Forum seeks official IMO accreditation
"The ultimate customer of the world’s cargo shipping industry deserves a voice at the table of the regulatory bodies deciding its future," GSF Chairman Robert Ballantyne said in the forum's annual report.The Global Shippers Forum, whose membership includes the U.S. National Industrial Transportation League and Freight Management Association of Canada, says it faces “continuing frustration” in attempting to achieve formal accreditation by the International Maritime Organization.
Writing in the group’s annual report, GSF Chairman Robert Ballantyne, who is also president of the FMA of Canada, said, “We recognize the resource and budget constraints that IMO works under, but the ultimate customer of the world’s cargo shipping industry deserves a voice at the table of the regulatory bodies deciding its future. Accreditation to the IMO and other UN agencies will remain a key objective for us in 2015.”
In the meantime, GSF said it has made progress in the past year in acting as an “effective voice for shippers around the world.”
Ballantyne pointed to GSF’s role at the IMO in working on a compromise for a new rule that will require verification of container weights. The compromise worked out allows either weighing loaded containers or computing the weight based on the weight of the cargo, pallets, packing and securing materials.
Those rules go into effect July 1, 2016 and Ballantyne said they “will meet the requirements of the shipowners for accurate weights for safety purposes, while providing shippers throughout the world with alternate methods that suit local conditions.”
Some other work by the group highlighted by Ballantyne included GSF input to an initiative by the IMO, International Labor Organization and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe on safe stuffing of containers, which he said will greatly improve maritime safety, and the launch of of a standard container contract including legal advice in conjunction with Baltic and International Maritime Counci to assist shippers with compliance and up-to-date industry best practice.
Ballantyne noted the continuing evolution of alliances among container lines serving the main routes between Asia, Europe and North America and said, “While shippers acknowledge the potential benefits of the alliances in matching capacity to demand, there is concern that this could lead to reduction in competition. GSF continues to advocate that the regulatory agencies in the major trading blocks ensure they have oversight processes in place to effectively monitor the alliances and the authority to ensure appropriate levels of competition remain.”
In air cargo, he noted the GSF is one of the founding members of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group and that “GACAG working groups addressing issues such as e-commerce, air cargo security and emissions issues all made progress during the year.”
GSF has had well publicized disagreements with the European Shippers Council and Asian Shippers’ Council, which together have formed a rival group called the Global Shippers Alliance.
But Ballantyne said the GSF membership continued growing in 2014 with shippers’ councils from Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa confirming membership with the shipper forum.