Freight News, Sea

GSF calls for forum to tackle service quality issues

[ March 1, 2016   //   ]

The Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) has called for a Maritime Industries Supply Chain Forum to be set up to tackle the poor quality of service since the consolidation of the world’s top 20 lines into ‘super alliances’,

One year on from the publication of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development International Transport Forum’s report on ‘The Impact of Mega Ships’ there has been no serious response by the shipping industry to the issues it identified – namely the wider external costs imposed by mega ships and alliances on others in the supply chain, including shippers, port and terminal operators and governments.
Speaking at the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA) international conference in Barcelona on 1 March, GSF secretary general Chris Welsh said that shippers have generally supported cooperation through consortia and vessels sharing agreements to help rationalise costs, provided they themselves gained benefits in enhanced quality and a wider range of services. However, services are often poor and supply chains disrupted by bunching of vessels, void sailings and delays.

Mr Welsh said: “The onus is on the shipping industry to demonstrate that the bigger ships and alliance business model is the best response to the economic and financial challenges faced by carriers but also adds value to customers. We believe cooperation between the main international stakeholders in a new maritime industries forum would enable the wider maritime supply chain to develop solutions to the problems presented by bigger ships and alliances in a constructive and consensual manner.”

He said that the received wisdom is that bigger ships and alliances are good for competition. But if the reality is that they impose costs on others, and if they restrict choice through reduced service competition, then other regulatory or competition policy approaches may be necessary.

Global cargo handling association ICHCA International has meanwhile agreed to work with the Federation of European Private Port Operators (FEPORT) on matters of mutual interest, including the challenges posed by bigger ships and other key operational issues for the sector.. The two associations signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding on 1 March at the ICHCA conference.

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