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2015-07-01 13:35:41

Egypt is keen on tapping into the potential offered by China's Silk Road Economic Belt trade union especially in the context of linking the project to the Suez Canal.

The country officially joined the initiative last week and will be represented by the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA).

According to EBA executive director Mohamed Youssef, China aims to raise US$2.5tn in trade volume to the Silk Road trade union in a decade and has already offered to link the project to the Suez Canal.

The move comes as Egypt gears up to attract more cargo with the opening of the New Suez Canal set for Aug. 6, 2015.

The expansion work has hit 85 percent completion, with 43 dredging machines working round the clock to meet the deadline for excavation completion scheduled for July 15.

Once the two-way highway is completed, Egypt expects that up to 20,000 ships will transit the route on an annual basis.

The expansion project will pave the way for a transit of ships of up to 20 meters in draft, thus increasing the revenue of the canal to up to US$17bn a year.

The US$40bn Silk Road Fund, proposed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in December 2014, has been officially launched earlier this year. The fund is intended to revive maritime and land trade links between Asian countries by financing construction of infrastructural solutions and industrial and financial cooperation to reduce bottlenecks.

The Silk Road Economic Belt aims to link Asia, Africa and Europe by reopening the links between China and Europe though the Middle East, Central Asian, South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean, to East and South Africa.

2015-06-29 11:14:41

Russia's Transport Ministry is considering a new bill that would substantially restrict shipping operations for foreign-flagged vessels in the Russian Arctic.

Namely, as reported by Russian newspapers Kommersant, the bill would ban foreign-flagged ships from exporting oil and gas from the region.

Moreover, the ministry is also thinking about prohibiting vessels not built in Russia from the Arctic oil shipping, a source close to the matter said.

The move is seen as Russia's countermeasure to sanctions imposed by the West against the country which have hit hard Russia's energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft.

However, should the bill move forward, Russia's biggest shipping company Sovcomflot may be among the first to suffer the consequences as majority of the company's ships sail under a foreign flag.

2015-06-29 10:58:06

South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) plans to set up an integrated system of information on shipping, port, and logistics.

This aims to solve inconvenience caused by the existing seven individual information systems, which are being operated separately. The seven systems have been operated by Busan Regional Public Procurement Service, Incheon Regional Public Procurement Service, Yeosu Regional Public Procurement Service, Busan Port Authority, Incheon Port Authority, Ulsan Port Authority, and Yeosu-Gwangyang Port Authority.

Through a press statement, the MOF said, "A total of KRW17.5 billion [USD15.69 million] will be injected into the project, which will go on until 2017." The move aims to vitalise the 'Government 3.0' vision, which allows wider public access to government data.

According to the Korean culture and information service, this initiative refers to President Park Geun-hye's government reform drive to boost transparency, information sharing, communication, and co-operation in overall state affairs management.

In 2015, the first phrase of the project will be undertaken, requireing KRW4.7 billion of investment to construct infrastructures that will unify the seven individual operating systems. Rebuilding database, developing an integrated operating system, and performing tests based on integrated system will be done in this period.

The MOF said, "When the whole project is completed in 2017, approximately KRW7.8 billion of cost reduction in port logistics is expected per year due to simplified civil affairs, improved job performance of governmental organisations, [and] lowered operational expenses. Also, the types of government data which is accessible to the public will increase from 16 to 56."

2015-06-26 17:01:59

Shanghai plans to offer cabotage trading right to foreign-controlled container shipping companies registered in the port city's free-trade zone (FTZ).

China-flagged container ships controlled by overseas shipping companies and registered either in Shanghai or Shanghai's Yangshan port will be given access to China's coastal shipping trade, according to a draft guidelines made public on 23 June.

The vessels are required to ship boxes in foreign trade if they want to tap the cabotage right, the draft guidelines stated.

The offering of cabotage right comes on the heels of earlier policy easings in four FTZs in Fujian, Guangdong, Shanghai, and Tianjin, which facilitate coastal trading of non-Chinese-flagged container ships between six ports in the FTZs and other Chinese coastal ports.

In April 2015, another five ports in FTZs of Tianjin, Fujian, and Guangdong obtained the central government's approval to allow access to overseas-flagged box ships.

These are Tianjin port; Jiangyin Port Area in Fuzhou; Haicang Port Area in Xiamen; West Shenzhen port, including Mawan Port Area, Chiwan Port Area, and Shekou Port Area; and Nansha port in Guangzhou.

The extension of the policy easing of cabotage trading rules came after Shanghai's Yangshan Deep-water Port received a government approval in September 2013.

2015-06-26 15:24:10

Authority approved by American lawmakers to fast-track trade deals could rekindle a push by shipowners for greater access to US markets.

The US Senate voted on June 24 to establish trade promotion authority, known as TPA. The legislation gives the White House the power to send trade deals to Congress for a vote without giving lawmakers the ability to change them.

National Retail Federation president Matthew Shay called TPA "a landmark step" toward tearing down trade barriers. "TPA will help complete trade agreements that will open new markets for US companies and help retailers provide American families with the products they need at prices they can afford."

The legislation, which President Obama has supported and is expected to sign, is considered essential to completing two major pacts, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

European liner operators, backed by the European Community Shipowners' Association, have sought to use TTIP, over which the US and EU have been negotiating since 2013, to seek Jones Act waivers that would allow them to compete with US port-to-port feeder services. The Jones Act limits such services to US vessel operators.

European dredging companies have also sought to leverage TTIP for Jones Act changes. They see the talks as offering them a chance of gaining access to the US dredging market, from which they are barred by both the Jones Act and the 1906 Foreign Dredge Act.

Charlie Papavizas, a maritime attorney with law firm Winston & Strawn in Washington, DC, commented, "those are both longshots, but there's a certain amount of agitation going on with European shipowners."

2015-06-24 10:53:15

Beijing's ship scrapping subsidy is to be extended as China fights rampant overcapacity in its national merchant fleet.

The Ministry of Transport said in a statement that the program – which gives shipping lines subsidies of 1,500 yuan (US$241.67) per gross ton to replace old models with newer, greener ones – would be extended to the end of 2017. The initiative was first launched towards the end of 2013. State-run lines in particular have rushed to follow the program, their willingness to scrap latterly seeing them get greater state-backed financing for a new raft of newbuilds.

Despite the subsidy program, Chinese ship recyclers continue to report very tricky operating conditions with most still in the red, and none of them able to compete price-wise with their Indian sub-continent rivals.

2015-06-23 10:39:52

Indonesia's state-owned companies, ministries and institutions will be banned from ordering ships abroad as the country's shipbuilders have the capacity to meet the demand, according to the country's President Joko Widodo.

While visiting PT Anggrek Hitam shipyard in Batam, Widodo said that he would ask the state-owned shipping companies, ministries and institutions to create a list of ships needed in the future.

"In Batam there are 104 shipbuilding industries. After returning from here I will gather officials from state-owned companies, the ministry of defence, the ministry of transportation, the ministry of fisheries and marine resources, state-owned oil company PT Pertamina, gas company PN Gas and (order them) to no longer order ships from abroad," said Widodo.

The shipbuilding industry must be given high priority, Widodo said, as Indonesia has set out to improve connectivity through sea toll road development.

2015-06-18 17:37:37

China and Australia signed a long-awaited free-trade agreement (FTA) on June 17 after a decade of negotiations, lifting most tariffs in both countries.

In terms of cargo trading, 85.4% of China and Australia's exports will be tariff-free as soon as the agreement takes effect.

Upon full implementation of the wide-ranging agreement, 95% of Australian exports will be tariff-free, there will be fewer hurdles for Chinese businesses investing in Australia, and more visas will be granted for Chinese tourist.

Australia is the second-largest destination, after Hong Kong, for China's overseas investment, according to a Chinese government statement. "It is expected the free-trade deal will facilitate the flow of capital, resources, and people, and benefit industries and consumers in both countries," it said.

Australians will benefit from cheaper electronics and white goods, and their spending on these items is expected to boost the economy, Xu Yating, IHS economist told IHS Maritime. Chinese consumers, meanwhile, should have great access to Australian goods such as beef, dairy products, wine, and boutique whisky, which will be much more affordable once the tariffs are lifted, she added.

As Australia's largest trading partner, China's trade of goods and services with Australia has exceeded US$135bn in 2014, almost a quarter of Australia's total international trade.

2015-06-18 11:07:52

Developing guidance for commercial vessels and port terminal operators on identifying cyber-attack risks is one of the objectives of the US Coast Guard's cyber-security plan.

The agency's Cyber Strategy, unveiled by USCG Commandant Paul Zukunft on June 16, will guide the coastguard's cyber efforts over the next decade.

"Cyber is a new risk factor, but it does not interrupt long-standing and successful regimes for dealing with prevention and response to incidents," Zukunft said. "This isn't about looking for new authorities or missions. We're doing as we've done for 225 years. We're applying our existing authorities and skills to meet demand in emerging domains."

The plan outlines three priorities: defending cyberspace, enabling operations, and protecting infrastructure.

Managing risk was listed as the first objective of the cyberspace defence strategy. It called for the agency to "make the best possible use of scarce resources by conducting risk assessments that prioritise internal security measures where they are necessary, and continually evaluate best mitigation options in the context of effectiveness and cost".

The coastguard said it will incorporate risk information into existing vessel and facility security assessments conducted by private industry and port authorities.

The plan also stipulates that the USCG will co-ordinate with the IMO to include cyber security into required training for vessel and facility security officers. It noted that the agency will work with the US Coast Guard Academy, merchant marine academies, and training programs to incorporate cyber security into course work.

2015-06-18 11:05:25

The New Suez Canal will be inaugurated on Aug. 6, according to Suez Canal Authority (SCA).

SCA requested all shipping agencies to notify it about their vessels' manes and tonnages by July 10 at the latest, if they are arriving at Port Said and Suez outer anchorage on Aug. 5 in order to prepare for the inauguration event.

Details regarding the event itself have not been revealed except for the information that it will be attended by high-ranking officials including President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The expansion work has reached 85 percent completion, with 43 dredging machines working round the clock to meet the deadline for excavation completion set for July 15, canal authority chief Mohab Mameesh is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Once the two-way highway is completed, Egypt expects that up to 20,000 ships will transit the route on an annual basis.  It is estimated that around 10% of all global maritime trade passes through the Suez Canal, equaling to 18,000 ships per year.

The expansion project will pave the way for a transit of ships of up to 20 meters in draft, thus increasing the revenue of the canal to up to US$17bn a year.

Additionally, over the next five years, Egypt plans to invest into construction of an industrial and logistical zone along the canal in order to attract further investment into the area.

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