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34 international

Issue 6 2012

///GLOBAL SHIPPERS FORUM New group gets down to business

The new Global Shippers Forum set up just over a year ago is still in the process of fully establishing itself, but that hasn’t prevented it from getting to grips with two of the thorniest issues facing the industry today – cargo stowage and container weights.

Chris Welsh, GSF’s secretary

general, explains that efforts are still going on to get GSF formalised as an official ‘non-government organisation’ (NGO) with the various international bodies that oversee


such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), International Civil

Aviation Organisation

(ICAO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Customs

Organisation (WCO).

This can be quite a long process, taking anything from 18 months to two years, but it is a necessary step for GSF to become a properly incorporated organisation that will have formal links and input with these mainly UN organisations. Meanwhile, GSF’s membership has been growing. “We have roughly 40 shippers’ groups from countries around the world in GSF now, from all continents, and we are still interested in adding more,” explains Chris Welsh. “And we also anticipate GSF growing as more shippers’ organisations get established in emerging markets like South America, and especially as the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development has been doing a lot of work to encourage shippers’ groups to set up in different parts of the world. There’s a clear need for a group like ours that can represent all these global interests.” The new forum has also attracted

the attention of some of the world’s major shippers who want a direct link with global organisations, so a new membership branch has been created specifically for them and Chris Welsh anticipates that several will sign up. (Smaller companies would of course be represented

through their national shippers organisations.) Many FBJ readers will know Chris

Welsh from of the Freight Transport Association based in Tunbridge Wells, which is no accident as GSF is registered in the UK and FTA is providing its expertise from its Tunbridge Wells headquarters. Other FTA staff involved include Christopher Snelling, policy advisor shipping, aviation and ports, Chris MacRae, policy advisor, dangerous goods,

Rachael Dillon, policy

advisor climate change and Don Armour, policy advisor transport safety, customs and international trade procedures. “It means we can bring the skills of the FTA to the wider benefit of GSF and the other members are very comfortable with that,” Chris Welsh explains. Work is also going on to develop

the FTA website. GSF has meanwhile been

formulating its policy in key areas, namely transport safety, the environment, maritime

are two major strands – securing of cargo and container weights. It is fair to say that there is more of a consensus in the former area; many other groups, including the International Labour Organisation, have been pressing for action for some time as there have been many incidents of trucks rolling over and other accidents caused by badly- stowed cargo. “There are already guidelines

drawn up by the IMO and the UN Commission for Europe (UNECE) but they are almost impenetrable,” Welsh explains. “Even the experts are confused by them, let alone the lay person.” Apparently, a full set of IMO

guidelines is a sight to behold – lined up, the combined volumes stretch for about 20 feet and moreover, they have to be paid for and are expensive, further limiting their accessibility. He has been chairing a working

group that is drawing up a much more manageable set of best practice guidelines that would

“There’s a clear need for a group like ours that can represent all these global interests.”

regulatory reform and air cargo. It has also established links with other

trade associations such

as the international forwarders’ body, FIATA, the International Air Transport Association, the World Shipping Council and BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council). “It’s important that we talk to all these organisations and our relations are by no means all adversarial,” states Welsh. GSF hopes shortly to launch one

of its most important initiatives, its Maritime Safety Campaign. This originally had been anticipated to take place at the first annual meeting originally scheduled for October but which has now been postponed, so the launch is now likely to take place independently, says Chris Welsh. Within the Safety campaign there

actually be of use to someone on a factory floor and which should be available shortly. Most likely it will be Web rather than paper-based and it should certainly be much affordable, if not entirely free of charge. The container weight issue has

been somewhat harder to reach agreement on, says Chris Welsh. While everyone now agrees that it is important to include shippers in the process of ensuring that accurate container weights are declared, it is difficult to know the extent to which weights are seriously over- or under- declared – and also how to ensure that correct data is submitted in future. “It is partly a matter of perception,”

Welsh says. “When incidents due to incorrect weights occur, they have gained a lot of notoriety and this has prompted the regulators and

New Zealand outlaws conferences

The Global Shippers’ Forum has welcomed New Zealand proposals to withdraw antitrust immunity for international shipping services – effectively banning the operation of shipping conferences to or from that country.

On 24 April, the country’s

Productivity Commission tabled its final report on International Freight Services Inquiry in the New Zealand Parliament which included a recommendation to withdraw antitrust immunity for international shipping

services. Then, on 3 September, the Minister of Commerce asked the New Zealand Parliament Commerce


consider proposals to transition international shipping to a normal competition regime governed by the Commerce Act 1986.


the public to perceive that there is a big problem, when in fact the vast majority of containers pose no such problem.” GSF’s position is that shippers

do have responsibility for giving correct weight declarations under the Safety of Life at Sea rules – but the big question is how to ensure that happens without gumming up the supply chain. A lot of the discussion has been

about how container weights would be verified. One approach would be for the terminal operator to weigh the box – modern cranes incorporate equipment that do this automatically – but what are they supposed to do with a box whose actual weight is seriously adriſt of the declared weight without bringing a busy port to a standstill? The other approach would be for the shipper to weigh the box at its premises. However, many would lack the equipment to weigh a fully loaded container of perhaps 20 tonnes or more, although there is

a German proposal for shippers to be allowed to calculate the total weight by determining it from the weights of individual items loaded inside the container, plus the weight of any packaging used. Whether they would be required to physically weigh each item or determine it from product data to hand is a moot point. The GSF has agreed with the IMO

to deal with outstanding issues and come up with detailed guidelines that will be agreed by September 2013. “I’d like to think that our involvement has created a degree of flexibility for shippers,” says Chris Welsh. “Prior to the creation of GSF, it would have been difficult to involve shippers like this.” Whatever the outcome, shippers

should prepare themselves for a new regime on container weights in about five years’ time. Carbon emissions is another

area where GSF expects to be fully involved. In the aviation sector, the European Commission has already caused quite a diplomatic flurry

with its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and this has certainly made Brussels pause before rushing into similar schemes for other modes of transport, says Chris Welsh. GSF has drawn up a paper summarising its position on all the various initiatives on maritime emissions. In aviation, GSF has, right from

its founding, engaged with groups such as FIATA, TIACA and GACAG to work on a range of industry initiatives “and create a single supply chain voice” to engage with regulators like the WCO or the various security organisations like TAPA (the Transported Asset Protection Association) and the Department of Homeland Security. “We are heavily involved in four

work streams, for eCommerce, customs and facilitation, security and sustainability, and we have shipper representatives in all of them; I myself chair the sustainability workforce, and there is a lot of progress being made,” Chris Welsh explains.

GSF gets to grips with shipping emissions

The Global Shippers’ Forum published the second edition of its Maritime Emissions Briefing Note on 22 October at the Clean Cargo Working Group’s Fall meeting in Jersey City, US. Launching the

report, Bruce Carlton, GSF Board member and president and CEO of the National Industrial Transportation League in the US said: “The CCWG is to be applauded for its ongoing efforts

in championing industry best practices and developing practical industry tools and solutions to improve the environmental performance of the maritime supply chain.”

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