Global Shipping Industry Slams European Parliament Proposals
Monday, April 15, 2013
ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe

The world’s national shipowners’ associations in nearly 50 countries – represented by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) – have united to condemn proposed amendments, to be voted on by the European Parliament this week (probably on April 18), on a new EU Ship Recycling Regulation.

Shipowners especially object to the proposal by the EP Environment Committee to impose a tax on merchant ships of all flags calling at EU ports to fund ship recycling facilities in the European Union.

“This is an unacceptable tax on trade and will cause grave offense to the EU’s trading partners, not just major ship recycling nations such as China and India, but to major shipping nations such as Japan and Singapore. These proposals have simply not been thought through.” said ECSA Secretary General Alfons Guinier. “As a matter of principle, it is wrong to impose a tax on one industrial sector in order to assist another, especially without proper consultation with the parties affected. Shipping is a global industry operating under global rules. The European Parliament should really not be contemplating measures which will work against the aim to improve recycling conditions globally, an aim which we fully support.”

The shipowners’ groups also believe that, if adopted, the EP amendments will fatally undermine the entry into force of the International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong) which was adopted by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009 - with full industry support - to improve working and environmental conditions in the world’s ship recycling yards, most of which are located in Asia.

The IMO Convention has not yet entered into force, pending the development of detailed Guidelines on implementation that have only recently been finalised by IMO.  But the Convention has the full support of the global shipping industry, which has already produced its own recommendations so that shipowners can comply with the IMO requirements in advance of governments formally ratifying the Hong Kong Convention.

“If the proposed amendments are taken forward, it will be seriously damaging to the Hong Kong Convention. The EP measures would therefore be completely counterproductive.” said ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe. “It’s not just the tax. Many of the other measures being proposed, such as sanctions against non-EU shipowners who don’t comply, and the creation of a unilateral list of recycling facilities that meet EU requirements, will almost certainly mean that Asian nations will be unable to ratify the IMO Convention. This will undermine years of hard work by governments at IMO (including EU Member States) as well as by shipowners and ship recyclers to develop a binding global solution that will actually work.”

ASF Secretary General, Yuichi Sonoda, added, “It is important to understand that under the terms of the Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force criteria, it is not possible for the Convention to enter into force unless it is ratified by the major ship recycling nations. An opportunity to improve standards via the Hong Kong Convention will be lost for a generation by these astounding and incomprehensible proposals which are creating huge concern amongst industry and governments alike in Asia.”

If the proposals are taken forward by the European Parliament, the shipping industry will be working with EU Member States to ensure that the proposals are stopped before it is too late. The international shipping industry is also working with governments in non-EU shipping nations, which can be expected to make strong representations in Brussels should the European Parliament vote the proposals through.

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