06 INTERNATIONAL MARINE TRANSPORT
Principle of freedom of shipping
In international marine transportation, individual countries are not allowed, in principle, to impose economic regulations or protections. Marine transportation companies of all countries should be free to pursue their economic activities. This is called Principle of freedom of shipping. To protect this freedom, countries have concluded treaties with the following content: Firstly, vessels may freely enter or leave any country carrying cargo. Secondly, all vessels are entitled to equal treatment in anchoring and loading/unloading cargo at any port around the world. Thirdly, vessels may not be subjected to unfair discrimination in port entry levies, pilotage fees, light duties, and inspection fees. However, in reality, some countries implement so-called flag discrimination measures that treat vessels differently depending on their nationalities.
The Shipping Conference
The Shipping Conference is a type of international cartel among marine transportation companies. While arranging agreements on shipping fees and vessel distribution to adjust the demand and supply, it also imposes rebate system and dual rate system to restrict consignors, thus suppressing competition from outside the Conference. However, in recent years, the influence of the Conference has been jeopardized by the increased use of containers, growth of marine transportation companies in developing countries, and new U.S. marine transport laws. There are two schools of opinions on the future of the Shipping Conference. One, led by the United States, insists that the Conference be banned in principle, that such a cartel should be subject to government regulations. The other, led by Japan and the European Union, says that the industry should be left to self-regulate and governments should intervene only when a specific problem arises.