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Press Statement from HongKong Shippers Council

22nd April 2009

Press Statement

The region’s three shippers’ organizations, namely the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, the Macau Shippers’ Association and the Shenzhen Shippers’ Association have strongly voiced their displeasure at OOCL’s announcement of a new RMB25/HK$25 charge, called the Seal Charge, to be collected starting May 13, 2009.

The shippers’ groups feel they are being singled out since the announcement for the charge mentions only exports from South China, including Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Macau. “We understand the lines are having financial difficulties but have they considered the shippers’ situation?” asked Willy Lin, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council. “Shippers have been one of THE hardest hit sectors of trade. Orders have been reduced substantially, prices for goods have been forced down to rock bottom or even at losing terms, credit lines have disappeared, and the market is showing no signs of jumping back up in the near future.”

“To impose a Seal Charge from out of the blue is unconscionable of OOCL,” said Tolan Lam, Shenzhen Shippers’ Association chairman. “But what is worse is to come up with such an unjustified charge at a time like this. The seal is part of the container that the shipping line agrees to transport and for which we pay freight charges. To start charging for the seal at this point in time makes no sense at all.”

In fact, said Mr. Lin, the seal is there for the carrier’s protection, to free the carrier from liability on the contents of the container. “There is NO JUSTIFICATION or reason for the action and, most importantly, there has been no prior consultation with their customers,” said Mr. Lin. The shippers’ associations said the charge is discriminatory since it is not being imposed in other parts of China. “Shippers in the region have been burdened with THC that is 4 to 5 times higher than other regions in China, such as the Yangtze Jiang and Bohai regions which have similar shipping activities. No move has been made by the shipping lines to lower THC in the best or the worst of times, and now, OOCL is trying to impose another revenue collection point that is totally unjustified and with no value adding factor,” said Frank Tang, chairman of the Macau Shippers’ Association.

“The higher charges imposed on shippers in South China, Macau and Hong Kong has jeopardized the region’s competitiveness and has been a huge contributing factor to the slowdown of shipping activities and overall economic growth in the region. At this most critical of times, to inform overseas buyers of yet another charge to be added to the shipping bill would be ridiculous, not to mention disastrous to shippers from this region,” said Mr. Lin.

“Shippers have been known to shoulder charges in the past that have been reasonable and for services that deliver value. But to come up with a charge for something that is part of the transportation of a container, let alone for the protection of the carrier, is beyond comprehension,” said Mr. Lam.

The shippers’ groups are asking for the immediate withdrawal of the Seal Charge and will be protesting the imposition of the charge to all local and central government authorities until it is rescinded.

HONG KONG SHIPPERS’ COUNCIL, Willy Lin, Chairman

MACAU SHIPPERS’ ASSOCIATION, Frank Tang, Chairman

SHENZHEN SHIPPERS’ ASSOCIATION, Tolan Lam, Chairman

For inquiries, please contact Mr Sunny Ho, Executive Director, Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, tel. 28340010, email sunnyho@hkshippers.org.hk.

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