Services and Activities (Annual Report 2015)

SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES

The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council was established to protect and promote the interests of its members and Hong Kong shippers in general on matters relating to the transportation of merchandise by sea, land, and air.

The Council operates under the guidance of an Executive Committee made up of representatives from 16 major trade associations in Hong Kong and derives its broad-based representation and membership from these trade associations; the Executive Committee is served by a secretariat staff of seven.

THE COUNCIL’S FUNCTION

At a regional and local level, the focus of the Council is to:

•     Ensure an open and competitive freight market environment;

•     Ensure that government policy and practices are geared towards the interests of shippers;

•     Ensure that proper infrastructure and facilities serve the present and future needs of shippers and logistics operators;

•     Ensure that carriers’ charges are reasonable, with sufficient transparency and justification, and proper governance;

•     Ensure that the Hong Kong shippers’ voice is represented locally, regionally and internationally.

The Council achieves these goals through:

1.  Engagement in the consultative mechanism of the HKSAR Government

The Council is represented in major government logistics and transport related committees and advisory groups, including:

-     The Logistics Development Council and its various sub-committees

-     The Port Development Council

-     The Port Operations Committee

-     The Sea Cargo Liaison Group, Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department

-     The Logistics Industry Training Advisory Group and its various sub-committees, the Education Bureau

-     The Tripartite Meeting for Logistics Industry, Labour & Manpower Bureau

-     The Regulated Agent Regime Task Force, Civil Aviation Department

-     The Industry Consultative Network (Logistics), Employee Retraining Board

-     Road Cargo System User Liaison Group

2.   Engagement in trade, industrial, and professional organisations and institute

The Council closely co-operates with other related organisations and institutes.

 The Council is represented on:

-     The Shipping and Transport Committee, HKGCC

-     The Logistics Service Advisory Committee, HKTDC

-     The E-Freight Local Management Group, IATA

-     The Hong Kong Maritime Forum (HKMF)

-     The ASEAN Port and Services Network (APSN)

-     ICC-HK Committee on Customs & Trade Facilitation

-     Transport and Logistics Services Council, FHKI

Through active participation in these committees and advisory groups, the Council communicates shippers’ needs and requirements to the authorities and other policy-makers. The Council also defends shippers’ interests in the policy formulation process and its execution.

In addition to the consultative and advisory groups, in 2015, the Council also actively participated in major government studies and engaged in ad hoc meetings concerning a number of related issues. The Council’s input is crucial to logistics-related research and surveys by the government to plot the future direction of Hong Kong.

The Council participated in discussion on:

-     Belt and Road

-     Terminal Handling Charges (THCs)

-     Three-Runway System(3RS)

-     Liners Application for Block Exemption

-     Proposals for Enhancing The Use of Port Back-Up Land in Kwai Tsing

-     Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Related Project

-     Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area

-     Chep Lap Kok Outline Zoning Plan No. S/I-CLK/12

-     Solars Admendment on Mandatory Container Weighing

-     Further Enhancement of the Regulated Agent Regime (RAR)

-     Cessation of Selling Service for Port Security Charge (PSC) Coupon

-     2016 Policy Address and 2016/17 Budget Consultation

3.   Protecting shippers’ interests and protesting against shipping lines’ surcharges

The Council represents and defends shippers’ interests in dealing with carriers and service providers. The emphasis is on ensuring that shippers are able to negotiate freight rates in an open market environment and on a level playing field with the carriers.

The Council monitors the marketplace to ensure sufficient competition exists, that charges and surcharges are justified with sufficient transparency, that proper payment mechanisms are in place that are convenient and cost-effective to shippers and that service standards are set properly, reviewed, and upgraded regularly.

Locally and regionally, the most common points of contention that require constant monitoring are rates and related charges like documentation fees, peak season surcharges, bunker adjustment factors, currency adjustment factors, port congestion surcharges, war risk surcharges, terminal handling charges (THCs), equipment exchange charge, etc. The Council voiced its objections to these unreasonable charges and demanded that they be rescinded.

The Council aims to involve the government as and when needed during its dealing with the carriers and freight forwarders. In early 2015, the Council addressed the concerns of shippers over the increase of THC in the Asia-Europe trade on a par with the Trans-Pacific trade, i.e. increase of HK$400-500 per container. The Council Chairman wrote to the Secretary for Transport and Housing (THB) urging the HKSAR Government to take proactive actions to forestall the THC hike which will hurt Hong Kong's international trade.

In October 2015, the Ministry of Communication (MOC) announced that it would investigate the surcharge structure and collection of shipping lines, with an intention to rationalise and regulate surcharges prevailing in the market. The Council fully supported the Ministry of Communication’s efforts and reminded shippers to scrutinise the price changes immediately and regularly.

4. International representation

The Council maintains active participation in international shippers’ meetings to maintain good liaison and co-operation with shippers’ bodies overseas. The general aim is to promote closer ties, exchange views on issues of mutual concern and make use of collective action against one-sided rate hikes by shipping conferences.

These forums serve as platforms on which the various economies in the region can present and compare their shipping concerns. Through these forums, shippers are made aware of the developments and problems of the various countries and territories represented. They can compare the progress of their endeavours and thereby help strengthen understanding.

The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council is a member of most global shipping forums. The Asian Shippers’ Council was formed in 2004 comprising major shippers’ organisations in Asia. In September 2006, the Global Shippers’ Forum was formed.

The Federation of ASEAN Shippers’ Councils includes most Asian shippers’ associations, while the Cross-Strait China Shippers’ Alliance is composed of shippers’ organisations in the Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. The Council is an active member of these international and regional organisations.

Annual meetings provide the forum for discussion and the pooling of information relating to issues affecting each region. At the end of each meeting, a joint declaration is prepared and signed by all participating shipping councils and associations, containing an outline for the course of action planned for the next year on a national, regional, or global level. Through these shippers’ councils’ meetings, shippers around the world are developing more structured organisations to increase their influence.

The Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and Asian Shippers Council (ASC) Meeting was held on 7-10 March 2015. GSF and ASC exchanged important information on market, competition issues, air freight development, BIMCO Standard Bill of lading and launching of a campaign over surcharges.

The IATA World Air Cargo Symposium held in Shanghai on 9 March 2015. The Council participated in the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) meeting as an observer. The GACAG, under IATA, is composed of delegates from prominent air freight carriers, freight forwarders and shippers. The group discussed issues of mutual interest, including cargo safety, security, and documents at the meeting. The Council representatives, the Hong Kong Marine Department, Hong Kong and Shenzhen container terminal operators and freight forwarders attended a meeting with Maritime Safety Administration in Shenzhen on 12 March 2015. The central theme of the meeting was IMO Container Weighing, which is a major concern for shippers.

The 1st Asian Shippers’ Alliance Meeting was held in Indonesia on 17-19 March 2015. The Global Shipper Alliance, comprising Asian Shipper Alliance, European Shippers’ Council and the American Association of Exporters and Importers, has been formally established on 18 March 2015. The meeting provides a good avenue for global shippers to voice their concerns.

On 24-26 March 2015, the Intermodal Asia 2015 was held at World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre in Shanghai. Representatives from the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, Thai National Shipper Council and Indonesian National Shipper Council presented at the session and participated in the panel discussion. The panel addressed the specific needs and requirements of shippers in international transport regarding service levels and pricing, especially in maritime and airfreight transport as well as trade facilitation issues.

The “Belt and Road” meeting was organized on 27 March and hosted by the Shanghai Import and Export Association and attended by over 90 trade organizations and private entreprises from different provinces and cities. Most of the trade organisations are traditional trade organisations under the Ministry of Commerce. The purpose of the conference was to institutionalise an association to promote the “One-Belt-One-Road” concept and help businesses to capture opportunities arise. The Council has been accepted as a Founding Member of the alliance.

The Council was invited to join the Global Shippers Forum AGM in Toronto on 2-4 June 2015. There were presentations from FMC, UNCTAD, banks and the Canadian government. The topics discussed were important and extensive, including competition, container weighing, surcharge campaign, etc.

On 10 September 2015, the Council Chairman was invited to attend the Global Liner Shipping Asia Conference in Singapore. During the conference, the Chairman expressed the major concerns of shippers based in Asia.

The 1st Annual General Meeting of Global Shippers’ Alliance was held on 16 November 2015 in Hong Kong. 18 delegates from the European Shippers’ Council, American Association of Exporters and Importers, China Shippers’ Association, Indonesian National Shippers’ Council, Thai National Shippers’ Council, Shenzhen Shipper’s Association, Macau Shipper’s Association and Hong Kong Shippers’ Council attended the meeting. The meeting ended with signing of a joint statement and a press conference after the meeting.

The meeting discussed the global economic outlook, the global freight market, Belt and Road, shipper-carrier relationships, surcharges, trade facilitation and SOLARS amendments on mandatory container weighing. They reiterated their aim of engaging in constructive dialogue with national government, transport organisations and logistics service providers and striving for better cooperation so international trade can continue to thrive and economic growth can be ensured.

The 5th Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference was held on 17-18 November 2015. The Council co-organized a session “Shipper-Carrier Dialogue” with Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Asia Logistics Maritime Conference.

The Marketing Manager of the Council attended the one-day conference focusing on Belt & Road in Shanghai. Representative of the Council attended the “Belt & Road – New Trade – New Opportunities Summit” organized by HKTDC, Shanghai Exporters and Importers Association, Fung Business Intelligence Centre in Shanghai on 2 December 2015; the Council is a member of the Belt and Road Traders Entreprises Alliance.

5.  Enhancing Hong Kong’s logistics industry and its position as a leading logistics hub

The Council supports the government to promote Hong Kong’s port and strengthen the region’s role as a logistics hub within Asia. This is crucial for the success of Hong Kong traders in the arena of international trading.

To achieve this goal, the Council is actively participating in the Government’s promotional activities overseas.

LOGISTICS MISSION

The Hong Kong Business Mission to Poland and Slovakia organized by the Trade Development Council was held from 1-7 October 2015. The Council Chairman was appointed as one of the co-leaders. The mission programme included business appointments with potential buyers, networking events with government officials and trade associations' members, in-depth market briefings by local commercial partners or business associations and market visits to local enterprise and retail outlets.

The Chairman took part in the joint LOGSCOUNCIL and PDC Visit to South Korea on 26 November 2015. He gave a presentation on “Hong Kong as a Regional Distribution Centre – a Good Partner for Shippers, Traders and Logistics Stakeholders”.

PRESENTATION

To help promote Hong Kong, in addition to its own activities, the Council entertains a lot of requests to make presentations locally and overseas.

On 6 May 2015, the Executive Director addressed the contentious issue of “The Chinese Model of Cross-border E-Commerce” at the Logistics Service Advisory Committee of Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

The 1st Global Port Research Alliance on 21 May 2015 was hosted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and sponsored by the SAR Government and OOCL. The Executive Director of the Council gave a presentation on “Contributions from Shippers to Enhance Port Competitiveness”; the session attracted over 100 audiences.

The Council Executive Director was invited to make a presentation at Hang Seng Management College: 20th APDSI and 2nd International Conference on Supply Chain for Sustainability on 22 July 2015. The topic was “Asia Pacific Supply Chain – Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century” and over 100 audiences attended the session.

The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology: The 5th International Conference on Logistics and Maritime System (LOGMS2015) was held on 27-29 August 2015. The Executive Director expressed his views on “Ocean Transport Logistics: Challenge and Opportunities”. Over 200 were in attendance with more than half from overseas bodies attended the session.

On 2 September 2015, the Executive Director made a presentation for the TILOG – LOGISTIX 2015. The theme is “Global Trend on Logistics & SCM – Opportunities for Thai Enterprises in China’s Booming Cross-Border E-Commerce”. The presentation was made in the form of a video and it was known that over 150 people attended locally in Bangkok.

On 10 September 2015, the Chairman of the Council presented on the major concerns of Asian shippers at the Global Liner Shipping Asia Conference in Singapore.

Shortly after, the Chairman delivered a speech titled “How to Improve Port and Supply Chain Connectivity” at APSN Workshop in Cebu on 10 November 2015.

The Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference was held in Hong Kong on 17-18 November 2015. The Council Chairman presented on the topic “Air Cargo Performance, Economic Trends and the Future of Airfreight – A Hong Kong Shipper’s Perspective”.

The Chairman gave a presentation on “Belt and Road” on 17 December 2015 in Bangkok, addressing an audience comprising senior officials and prominent businessmen from Thailand and Mainland China.

Other presentations included “Symposium on Sustainable Development for the Hong Kong Logistics Industry”, “Foresight of the Hong Kong Logistics Developments”, “Highlight of Shippers Concern”

6. Education, training, and visits

The Council has organised a number of tailor-made training courses, seminars and visits to ports, airports and logistics facilities for shippers and industry practitioners to allow them to pick up industrial knowledge, to learn about the latest development and changes in the trade, shipping opportunities and alternatives in the region and to enhance industry professionalism.

VISITS

Shenzhen is one of the most rapid developing economic sectors in the Pearl River Delta. We organized the Shenzhen Logistics Visit on 5 February 2015. The programme included a visit to Qianhai Logistics Zone, Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Co-operation Zone where the delegation was updated on the latest development in the region and the preferential policies. A guided tour to Shenzhen China Brilliant Group was also arranged where the representatives briefed the delegation on the operation model and its five platform-integrated system.

Online shopping and cross-boundary logistics has also been growing rapidly. It is important to let shippers have a better understanding of the latest airfreight logistics development and distribution process and the changes in recent markets. The Council organized a Shenzhen-Hong Kong Logistics Delegation on 28 April 2016. The aim was to foster the co-operation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong logistics so as to grasp the new business opportunities. The delegation visited China Shenzhen Airlines freight stations and China Post Express & Logistics - Shenzhen Post.

Following the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Logistics Delegation, the Council organized the Guangzhou and Nansha cross-boundary e-commerce delegation on 24-25 June 2015. The itinerary included a trip to Guangzhou Transland Shipping Ltd, free trade zone cross-boundary experience stores, Nansha Container Terminal and Enpro Supply Chain Management Ltd. During the Nansha briefing session, representatives were invited to introduce the governmental policy on free trade zone, cross-boundary e-commerce operation, tariff and customs clearance, etc.

China’s Belt and Road initiative has become one of the most discussed topics for Hong Kong shippers. The Council organised a two-day Shenzhen and Guangzhou “Belt and Road” visit on 29-30 October 2015. The delegation visited the Transport Commission of Shenzhen Municipality Bureau of Shipping, Port and Administration, Shenzhen South-China International Logistics Co. Ltd. Participants attended the seminar on Belt & Road in Shenzhen and a related conference on Maritime Silk Road titled “2015 Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo” in Guangzhou. Participants were briefed on the recent changes and shared on the various opportunities which Belt and Road offered. Positive responses had been received.

COURSES

As a series of e-commerce programme, the Council organized the E-commerce Seminar in July, October and December 2015. Experts were invited to brief participants on the China cross-boundary e-commerce development, the role of Hong Kong in the e-commerce business and how to choose suitable logistics solutions.

In view of the increasingly demanding environment for dangerous goods (DG) shipments and batteries handling, the Council organized a series of DG courses and batteries handling programmes for both sea and air cargo in 2015. The aim was to raise awareness on proper safety in cargo transport. The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code Training Program and IATA Dangerous Goods Practical Certificate Course were part of the programme series and responses to the course were encouraging.

The Council again jointly organized the Certificate of Shipping and Logistics Course with the HKU School Professional and Continuing Education (HKU Space) in 2015. The programme ran for eight months between September 2015 and May 2016 to provide industry practitioners and new entrants with a comprehensive training programme on the basics of shipping and logistics operations as well as providing practitioners an academic progression path leading to higher academic and professional qualification. The programme covered 12 topics including carriage of goods by sea, air and land, cargo insurance, trade documentation, e-commerce and e-shipping, procurement and supply chain management, logistics costing. The tours to Kwai Chung Container Terminal and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminal Ltd were integral parts of the course curriculum.

Other courses organized during 2015 included Legal Concern Seminar, Crisis Management Workshop, ICC Uniform Customs & Practice for Documentary Credit (UCP600) and Incoterm 2010, Sustainability of Business Models for Freight Forwarding Industry, Knowing How the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Works, Knowledge Management Tools Application on Third-Party Logistics Companies.

7.  Promulgating news and messages to shippers and the industry

The Council communicates to its members regularly via fax, email and its website www.hkshippers.org.hk. Among the benefits of Council membership are regular updates on the latest trade situation and freight rates, including shipping statistics, laws and regulations for the region, and new charges and surcharges. The bi-monthly publication Shippers Today features articles and reports on the latest developments in logistics, maritime, and aviation, as well as on the services provided and the service providers. The Council emails articles and features to its members and associates to update them on the latest developments in the industry.

The Council alerts shippers on developments in the industry, conducts research, and advises shippers of the findings. The Council also organises orientation visits to ports and other logistics and shipping facilities in Hong Kong and the Mainland, and holds seminars and conferences to disseminate current issues.