The Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) held its 29th Annual General Meeting on 28th May 2020. The meeting covered a broad range of topics, such as seafarers repatriation, sustainable shipping, the Hong Kong Convention, and piracy.
According to ASA, over 150,000 seafarers who have completed their contractual tours of duty, are unable to get home because of various governments’ travel restrictions.
For this reason, ASA urged all governments to implement the recent IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 – Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This shall eliminate the risk of interruptions to the transport of vitally needed food, clothing, energy fuels and other essentials for the world economy and the people’s daily life
While the human and economic cost of the pandemic is horrifying, ASA states, there is at least one silver lining for shipping. This is that carbon emissions from shipping have fallen. The ASA stresses that, as the industry emerges from the pandemic, it must make every effort to continue its efforts towards carbon-free shipping that are practical and implementable.
The Hong Kong Convention (HKC)
The ASA strongly welcomed India’s recent ratification of the HKC, which called a major move towards “green ship-recycling” of obsolete vessels.
It emphasized that it is essential to continue motivating China and Bangladesh to sign up for this important convention and encouraged the Asian shipowners to promote usage of HKC compliant yards, for boosting an early enactment of the HKC.
Stability of toll system
The ASA noted the recent toll hikes of the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal, two major waterways on the globe underpinning the world trade. Especially regarding the Panama Canal’s new charges introduced in February 2020, the ASA expressed its opposition at the ‘hasty introduction‘, despite its significant financial impacts on the industry. The ASA urged the Canal’s Administrator to listen to its users who are calling for the reconsiderations and modifications of its charges.
Piracy in West Africa
Violent attacks on vessels and their crews by pirates infesting in the Gulf of Guinea have become increasingly frequent. The local governments have, so far, been unable to put an end to this menace.
The human cost is enormous and the cost of vessel callings at many West African ports are escalating due to soaring insurance premiums and added securities onboard ships
As said that this will inhibit the trade to the area which is clearly an extraordinary problem for the countries and their people.
For this reason, it calls upon the IMO to add this issue to all its high-level meetings and to urge its Member States in the region to take their actions to curtail the threats facing by merchant vessels calling at ports in the region.