- Sri Lanka Shippers' Council Concerns - X Press Pearl Catastrophe(07th June 2021)
- Sri Lanka exporters, importers battle high rates, box shortfalls to maintain trade lifeline(27th April 2021)
- Port of Colombo Operation Update(11th January 2021)
- Port of Colombo Operation Update(22nd December 2020)
- Unlawful Surcharge implemented by Consolidators(22nd December 2020)
- Sri Lanka Shippers' Council meeting with the Chairman and Senior Management of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority(15th December 2020)
- Hambantota International Port Group Tariff - 2021(01st December 2020)
- Hambantota International Port Services Tariff - 2021(01st December 2020)
- Port of Colombo: All Operations Return to Normal(30th November 2020)
- Sri Lanka Custom's Trader Re-registration initiative(26th October 2020)
- The 50th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Shippers' Council(13th August 2020)
- Chairman's Address - Mr. Suren Abeysekera(13th August 2020)
- Payments by Importers/Exporters to Freight Forwarders for Logistics Services(27th April 2020)
- Article by Mr. Suren Abeysekera - Sri Lanka The Future Hub for Logistics(16th October 2019)
- 49th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2019-2020(18th August 2019)
- Speech by the Chief Guest Mr. Mangala P. B. Yapa(18th August 2019)
- Speech by the Outgoing Chairman of Sri Lanka Shippers Council - Mr. Chrisso de Mel(18th August 2019)
- Speech by the Incoming Chairman of Sri Lanka Shippers Council - Mr. Suren Abeysekera(18th August 2019)
- EU - Regulations on Packaging Material with effect from 14th of December 2019(21st March 2019)
- 48th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2018-2019(24th July 2019)
- Speech by the Chief Guest & the Keynote speaker Hon. Eran Wickramaratne(12th August 2018)
- Speech by Chairman, Mr. Chrisso de Mel at the Post Business Session of 48th Annual General Meeting(10th August 2018)
- Sean Van Dort confirmed as new GSF Chairman(11th May 2018)
- Speech by Outgoing Chairman Mr. Sean Van Dort at the SLSC Post Business Session of 47th Annual General Meeting(04th July 2017)
- Speech by Incoming Chairman, Mr. Chrisso de Mel at the SLSC Post Business Session of 47th Annual General Meeting(04th July 2017)
- Speech by the Chief Guest and keynote speaker Hon. Dr. Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister, Ministry of National Polices and Economic Affairs(04th July 2017)
- 47th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2017-2018(04th July 2017)
- Arjuna no-balls GSP+ benefit with THC move(15th May 2017)
- Competition Policy Issues HK Competition Commission SubmissionHamburg Sud-Maersk Merger(27th April 2017)
- US antitrust regulators raid Box Club meeting(20th March 2017)
- GSF report says radical changes to container shipping market need new solutions(15th November 2016)
- Sri Lanka shippers' Council salutes the Ghana Minister of Maritime Authority for recognizing the plight of its shippers.(30th September 2016)
- Reforms in the Shipping Industry(30th September 2016)
- 46th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2016-2017(31st August 2016)
- Global Shippers' Forum Chief hails SL's strong competition laws(02nd August 2016)
- GSF announces plan to stop container surcharges(02nd August 2016)
- New container weighing rules: GSF says unjustified VGM charges are unacceptable(04th July 2016)
- Guidance on the implementation of the SOLAS VI Regulation 2 amendment(29th June 2016)
- Shippers Council ICC Transport Guideline(29th June 2016)
- Shippers Council confers honorary membership on Chullante Jayasuriya(04th May 2016)
- Shippers' Council says 'no' to additional fee under new IMO rules(28th April 2016)
- Media Release - 50th Annivesary of Sri Lanka Shippers' Council(01st April 2016)
- Sri Lanka Shippers' Council to celebrate its 50th Anniversary this year(04th March 2016)
- Shippers' Council Chairman warns importers of attempt to distort freight market once again(04th March 2016)
- The Sri Lanka Shippers council welcomed the single window concept implemented by the Sri Lanka customs(04th March 2016)
- Shippers Council extends best wishes to PM(21st August 2015)
- 45th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2015-2016(09th August 2015)
- Shippers' Council expresses concern over Customs Chief's sudden resignation(27th May 2015)
- NCE organises awareness seminar on Sri Lanka's FTAs with India and Pakistan and proposed FTA with China(17th April 2015)
- GSF calls for rigorous monitoring KPI's for shipping alliances(24th March 2015)
- Private sector expresses concern over truck operators' strike at Colombo Port(18th March 2015)
- Sri Lanka Customs - Notice to All Importers/CHAA(09th February 2015)
- Guidelines issued by Sri Lanka Customs about Documentation & Examination Procedure at Export Facilitation Centre (EFC).(29th October 2014)
- Media Releaes: Sri Lanka Shippers' Council hails the Sri Lanka Customs initiative to facilitate exports(16th September 2014)
- Export Facilitation Centre – Container Flow(05th September 2014)
- Sri Lanka Customs Notice - Goods Clearance sms Service(02nd September 2014)
- Sri Lanka Customs - Notice to Exporters e-CDN(02nd September 2014)
- Trade Notice - Guidelines issued by the Director General of Merchant shipping(29th August 2014)
- Sri Lanka Customs Exports Facilitation Centre - Objectives, Process and its Benefits to the trade(15th July 2014)
- Sri Lanka Customs - Notice to Exporters(14th July 2014)
- Sri Lanka Custom's Announcement: Establishment of a Centralized Cargo Processing Facility at Port Access Road(03rd July 2014)
- 44th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2014-2015(27th June 2014)
- Trade notice - Issued by Director General Merchant Shipping - Maximum Delivery Order fee(25th April 2014)
- Trade Notice - To be vigilant on exorbitant local charges by some service providers(01st February 2014)
- The Extraordinary Gazette on Terminal Handling and Other Charges(06th January 2014)
- Sri Lanka Shippers' Council welcomes the Budget Proposals on Shipping(02nd December 2013)
- Customs Notice Penalty Tables for late reporting and amendments to cargo manifest(26th November 2013)
- Trade Notice - A list of licensed FFs with DGMS as at 08/11/2013(09th November 2013)
- P3 Network Takes Shape [Infographic](30th October 2013)
- Trade Notice Sri Lanka Customs - New Gazette No 1829/39 of 27/09/2013(18th October 2013)
- Notice issued by Director General Merchant Shipping for non licensed Freight Forwarders and NVOCC Operators(26th Saptember 2013)
- IMO passes mandatory container weighing – but with a compromise for shippers(26th Saptember 2013)
- Shipper anger grows as more airlines weigh in with costly surcharge change(26th Saptember 2013)
- The Minister of Finance has issued regulations and Colombo and Hambantota ports have been declared as Free Ports(16th August 2013)
- Sri Lanka Shippers' Council Meeting with Sri Lanka Customs(26th July 2013)
- Changes to the Export Cargo Clearance Procedure(04th July 2013)
- Container lines band up to beat the blues(21st June 2013)
- 43rd Annual General Meeting 2013-2014 – Sri Lanka Shippers' Council(14th June 2013)
- Awareness Seminar on Avoiding risks on ad-hoc charges in international trade contracts(30th April 2013)
- Full Implimentation Of Sri Lanka Custom'S Asycuda World System(06th March 2013)
- New 20ft box design promises greater capacity for shippers(20th February 2013)
- Shipping lines cut capacity and up rates as Asia-Europe stays weak(18th February 2013)
- Sri Lanka Shippers' Council visits Mattala Airport and Magampura Port(09th February 2013)
- Container Ship Capacity Around the World Is Up 6 Percent(14th January 2013)
- Full time AW help desk to solve urgent operational issues is now in place at Sri Lanka customs(20th December 2012)
- Trade Circular 21:IMPORTANT TRADE NOTICE for all methyl bromide users(24th September 2012)
- SLSC Circular to the membership / Importers & Exporters(17th September 2012)
- Open Discussion - Issues related to SLPA's newly implemented Cargo Management Module(22nd August 2012)
- Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Circular: Implementation of the Cargo Management Module for Imports(08th August 2012)
- 42nd AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2012-2013(27th July 2012)
- Progress review discussion on Asycuda World (AW) Implementation(19th June 2012)
- Awareness Seminar on Regularizing Methyl Bromide Fumigation Procedure and Usage (01st June 2012)
- SLSC conducted Inspection tour to SLPA Warehouses (23rd & 25th May 2012)
- Online Submission of CUSDECs with blend sheets (17th May 2012)
- Sri Lanka Ports Authority Notice to all Exporters/Shippers/Forwarding Agencies (18th April 2012)
- Seminar on current status of Simplified VAT scheme (29th March 2012)
- Monitoring Procedure for fumigation using Me Br Incompliance with Montreal Protocol (26th March 2012)
- Advance Facilities to the Shipping Industry from SL Ports Authority,an awareness seminar organized by Sri Lanka Shippers Council (26th January 2012)
Sri Lanka Shippers' Council Concerns - X Press Pearl Catastrophe.
07th June 2021
The Sri Lanka Shippers' Council (SLSC) is the apex body representing importers and exporters of the country. It has a 50 + years rich history representing the interests of shippers in the Island. It was the first National Shippers' Council to be set up in Asia now having 15 product member associations and over 50 individual members representing almost all industries engaged in international trade making it one of the most vibrant councils in the Country. The Council's engagement and contribution towards drafting some of the policies of national importance and its involvement in the reform process of border agency activities during the past years are noteworthy.
- Sri Lanka is an Island and our lifeline is our port. There is a greater need to secure it from disasters and having adequate control measures in place to avoid such occurrences is of paramount importance.
- SLSC calls for a thorough and impartial investigation on this incident; particularly keeping politics and geopolitics aside from the probe so that justice will prevail.
- The investigations should cover all aspects pertaining to the incident i.e. From exporter cargo declaration, Origin port functions, responses and responsibilities of ports en route, duties executed by the ship captain and crew, its principle office response, local ship agent's conduct and local authority communications/ actions taken during the incident to accurately understand where lapses have taken place resulting in this disaster.
- Pertinent authorities such as Director General of Merchant Shipping should exercise its powers swiftly and take immediate remedial action on these pressing matters to curb damages.
Effects to shippers
- It is noted that the ship was carrying many imports to the country including raw materials for the apparel industry and other sectors' imports that got affected and engulfed in the fire.
- However, so far there have been no reports of considerable delays in other vessel operations or imports due to the fire.
- But the industry may experience additional delays in future due to stringent checks that may have to be in place by harbor master and/ or Sri Lanka Port's Authority (SLPA) before authorizing ships to enter Colombo port increasing congestion and delaying ships' operations.
- 1500 containers being destroyed in the vessel can have a short to midterm scarcity of empty containers in South Asia - which is currently experiencing a severe shortage of empty containers for exports owing to Covid-19 effects. So, the loss of these containers will then attract additional costs in terms of having to reposition empty containers from other regions to fulfill export requirements.
- Due to these frequent incidents in and around Sri Lanka, the premiums that needs to be paid as cargo insurance by shippers can increase. This will then have other ripple effects such as price increase in commodity goods resulting in inflation and export manufacturing cost increase hence reducing our export competitiveness globally.
- Another macro effect could be the higher number of maritime insurance claims driving increases in insurance premia for vessels (implemented by P&I clubs) calling Colombo which then would obviously be passed down to shippers increasing already very high shipping rates further.
- Considering the catastrophe at hand, there is a dire need for authorities and SLPA to be better prepared with equipment and know-how to manage ship fires of this nature particularly owing to Sri Lanka being a busy transshipment port (within the first 25 in terms of volumes globally). Of course, the cost of upgrading infrastructure and increasing maintenance cost will drive operational cost escalation but a mechanism should be in place where the importer and exporter will not have to bear these increases finally.
- If Sri Lanka is to reach its aspiration to become the maritime hub of South Asia using its unique strategic location, the maritime industry needs to upgrade its salvage and other connected services required to support distressed ships that pass by the Island on a daily basis. If not, we become less attractive to the international shipping networks in terms of developing Colombo as a hub port.
- The role of ship agents in Sri Lanka should also be reviewed. Considering they are representing international shipping lines in the country and compensated for handling containers including transshipment, have they taken adequate proactive measures including investments made to ensure the safety of their principles' ships and the cargo they carry as imports and exports to and from the Island? Furthermore, what additional steps could be taken to collaborate more with authorities to upgrade infrastructure to handle modern box ship/ ultra large vessel emergencies? 4. The International Maritime Organization's IMDG Code has clear guidelines to handle these types of cargo and incidents. However, the resolutions and international laws ratified need to be locally included appropriately in country legislation for it to be considered as the law of the land. Experts point out that some of the resolutions ratified internationally is not adequately passed in Sri Lankan legislation which may be a hindrance to suitably argue these cases in the Island should the need arise.
The way forward
- SLSC proposes Sri Lankan authorities to implement an 'Advance Manifest Submission' system for all cargo arriving to Colombo port including for transshipment before the ship sails origin ports similar to all developed countries and major ports to asses risk before allowing ships to enter its waters. Currently, this requirement is closer to the vessel arrival in Sri Lanka and do not provide adequate time to risk assess the incoming goods or vessels to be better prepared for eventualities such as this. It is now more than a requirement an obligation.
- There should be a scientific and professional approach to ascertain the colossal damage this incident caused to Sri Lankan waters/ coasts, its economy and environment considering short, mid, and long-term effects before deciding on amounts for compensation. Suggest an independent body to lead this study without prejudice. Politicians should keep away from decision making in this regard.
- In a nutshell, most of these items could be well addressed and rectified if a robust longer-term Shipping and logistics Policy is implemented in the Island. SLSC has been in the forefront providing valuable input to several drafts of such policy document but unfortunately Sri Lanka has failed to come up with a fair and comprehensive document to address this requirement owing to some quarters in the industry using such opportunity to further personal business gains over national interests. The government should take appropriate action to involve experts in the industry and main industry bodies in developing such policy soon and successive governments should continue to endorse the policy if we are to succeed in our commercial maritime activities.
Mr. Suren Abeysekera
Sri Lanka Shippers' Council.
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