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THC no-show upsets shippers’ councils

The controversial THC debate between Asian Shippers’ council and ocean carries continues to rage after the proposed meeting between the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) and the Federation of ASEAN Shippers’ Councils (FASC) in late April was cancelled at the 11th hour

Back in March, the TSA formally stated that after an extensive study into the components of THC, it wanted to share information with shippers’ councils in an effort to improve the transparency on this perennially thorny issue. Asian shippers’ councils believe the THC should be included in the freight rates, whereas ocean carriers do not

An FASC statement said: ‘While both parties had the intention of holding the meeting, it could not proceed because of TSA’s high-handed attitude, which FASC finds unacceptable.’ It added that the TSA would not provide advance agenda items, tried to dictate the terms and conditions for meeting, and attempted to interfere with the FASC representation.

In response, a TSA spokesman stated that it did not cancel the meeting, and added That it was the TSA in the first instance that requested the meeting, emphasising its desire to improve relations. It hopes that the two bodies can discuss the issue in the near future, and put aside this ‘unfortunate misunderstanding’.

Nevertheless, the TSA says it has conducted useful individual talks with shippers’ councils in Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. There seems to be some value in these individual discussions, since there are elements That are unique to one country’s shipping and port infrastructure.

Interestingly, a similar joint meeting to discuss THC was planned between FASC and the Intra-Asian Discussion Agreement (IADA) last year, but on the eve of the meeting, IADA pulled out. However, discussions were eventually held between the two bodies In late April. This was only a small step in the right direction.

An FASC statement at the time concluded: ‘The meeting with IADA was positive although we did not make much progress on the THC issue. Between the two organizations, we have agree to disagree.’

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