The United States and any other country that is party to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) container weight mandate may delay implementation of the weight rule past the July 1, 2016 deadline.
According to Article VIII(b)(vii)(2) to the amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea convention, each of the 162 signatory nations may delay the implementation of SOLAS by up to one year. Any nation choosing to do so would be required to inform the IMO of the delay before the rule takes effect on July 1.
US exporters have been outspoken in their requests for revision of the new rule. Earlier this month, they called on the Coast Guard to delay the rule until it can be amended and determined that US exporters will not face a competitive disadvantage against foreign exporters.
The rule, which requires the shipper named on the bill of lading, or a designated representative, weigh the cargo by either measuring the contents of the container and adding it to the unladen weight of the container, or by weighing the sealed container and its contents as one, and then submitting the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) to the carrier and marine terminal in advance of vessel stowage to allow for stowage plans to be created.
The Coast Guard has responded to initial calls for delaying implementation of the rule; citing the difficulty of delay given the global roll out of the rule, the Coast Guard states that “foreign flag-ships, which carry the vast majority of containers from the US, would be bound by their flag states’ requirements not to load the containers in US ports as the VGM had not been verified.” In addition, if the US was to issue a unilateral delay, US-flag fleet and US container ships could still be at risk because the new regulations would still apply at foreign ports.
On February 18, 2016, the Coast Guard will host a public meeting on the VGM mandate at the Federal Maritime Commission headquarters in Washington, DC. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Deringer’s Marketing Department.