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Shipping Industry Wants Requirement to Verify Container Weight Prior to Loading on Ships

Monday, September 09, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Four global shipping industry organizations are calling on the International Maritime Organization to approve this fall a “carefully negotiated and crafted compromise” that aims to address the problem of misdeclared cargo container weights. A Sept. 4 joint press release points out that this problem presents safety hazards for ship crews, port workers, truck drivers and others; leads to incorrect ship stowage and accidents; facilitates the evasion of customs duties; and impairs the ability to perform accurate cargo security risk assessments.

Action is needed, the groups say, because the existing requirement in the IMO’s Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to provide a correct cargo weight declaration is not enforced and is ineffective. The IMO will therefore consider this month a proposed amendment to the convention that would require a packed container’s weight to be verified before the container is loaded onto a ship. The press release notes that the final compromise proposal allows for two methods to verify container weight and has “facilitated agreement across the widest possible group of governments and industry participants.”

Asserting that the technology already exists to implement such a requirement without delays or significant costs to commerce, the industry groups are calling on the IMO to adopt the proposed requirement “without further delay.” However, any such requirement would not likely take effect before May 2017 given the typical timeline for SOLAS amendments, which the groups said “would ensure more than ample time for shippers and the industry to easily adapt.”

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