Competition Policy as it Affects International Maritime Transport
Relations with Non-member Economies
Treatment of Support Measures
Safety and the Environment
Matters Related to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
SECTION III. SHIPPING RELATIONS AMONG OECD COUNTRIES
Observer Delegation from the Russian Federation
The Maritime Transport Committee (MTC) serves as a unique forum for the discussion of a broad range of economic and political maritime issues. Prime objectives to be pursued by the MTC are: to improve the convergence of shipping policies among Member and non-Member countries, to foster further liberalisation, to strengthen the competitiveness of Member country fleets and to provide political support to the promotion of maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment.
All 29 Members of the OECD are also members of the Maritime Transport Committee, and most participate regularly in its activities.
The Committee's Chairman, Mr. Diamantis Manos (Greece), together with a number of Vice-Chairmen (France, Germany and Norway) constitute the Bureau of the Committee This Bureau is supported by members of the extended Bureau, which comprises Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. In 1997, the Committee strengthened co-ordination and geographical coverage by enlarging the extended Bureau by one rotating seat, with the additional seat initially occupied by Sweden.
France continued to chair the General Working Party of the Maritime Transport Committee. The Russian Federation's observer status was re-confirmed in 1997, and it participated in meetings of the Maritime Transport Committee in that capacity.
The Committee's principal activities in 1997 were:
completion and release of a paper on the promotion of compatibility of competition policy as it applies to maritime transport, including multimodal transport with a multimodal leg;
commencement of a major report on the role of players in the industry, other than the shipowner, in combating substandard vessels;
as part of long-term planning for future negotiations on maritime transport services within the World Trade Organization (WTO), completion of a preliminary report on cataloguing existing impediments to maritime and multimodal trade in non-OECD countries;
continuing the development of a draft Understanding on Common Shipping Principles for discussions with the Dynamic Non-member Economies (DNMEs);
an initial dialogue with China through a Workshop on Maritime Transport Policies and Practices in November 1997.
Readers should note that the Statistical Annex which formed part of earlier MTC Annual Reports is now published separately, and will be available towards the middle of 1998 from the OECD Maritime Transport Web site.
The principal conclusions reached in this report were that:
there is a need to promote compatibility of competition polices to the maximum extent possible, and that competent authorities should seek practical solutions in cases of incompatibility;
competent authorities should periodically assess their policies, laws and regulations, and assess their commercial and economic impacts;
competent authorities should consult each other to meet the interests of international trade and eliminate barriers;
appropriate consideration be given to the public interest of any proposed measures.
The Maritime Transport Committee also agreed to review the implementation of the principles contained in the Conclusions within four years. Such reviews should preferably take place in full consultation with relevant parties in the industry.
As part of the OECD's broader "outreach" activities aimed at encouraging dialogue with non-Member economies, the Maritime Transport Committee has undertaken regular consultation with a broad range of non-members since 1991.
The Maritime Transport Committee held its first Workshop with China on maritime transport policies and practices on 4-5 November 1997. The Workshop, held at the OECD headquarters in Paris, was organised under the auspices of the OECD Programme of Dialogue and Co-operation with China. The Workshop was attended by approximately 100 representatives from China and the OECD Member countries, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC).
The objectives of the Workshop were to:
i) establish a climate of mutual confidence as a basis for developing dialogue and co-operation between China and OECD Member countries; ii) create a better understanding of shipping policies implemented in China and in the OECD Member countries; iii) deepen mutual insight into a number of selected maritime issues; and iv) identify common views as well as areas for further discussion and possible co-operation.
The view of all particpants was that the Workshop essentially met those aims.
Representatives from both China and the OECD raised a number of issues of mutual concern, including some sensitive matters such as cabotage trade, access to multimodal transport support measures and implementation of competition policy. This was done in an open and constructive manner.
The Chinese Delegation stressed that the Chinese shipping sector had undergone a rapid transformation since 1978, and noted that further improvements are needed in the liberalisation process of Chinese maritime regulations. In order to carry out those improvements, the Chinese Delegation hoped to benefit from the experiences of the OECD Member countries.
Apart from a substantive and useful exchange of views and information, participants agreed to put in place a continuing dialogue between the OECD and China, involving regular written exchanges on respective shipping policies and practices, and to hold a further meeting to build on the outcomes of the Workshop.
In respect of its continuing dialogue with the NIS/CEECs (Newly Independent States/ Central and Eastern European Countries), the Committee decided to seek advice from those states on whether they were experiencing any problems in their implementation of the 1993 Understanding on Common Shipping Policies. The MTC also decided that if problems were being experienced, the countries concerned should be invited to meet with the Committee, in order to settle any possible divergences. The NIS/CEECs group comprises Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine.
The DNMEs consist of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. During 1997 the Committee continued the development of a draft Understanding on Common Shipping Principles for discussion with the DNMEs. This draft, which is partially drawn from a parallel text already in place between the MTC and the NIS/CEECs, is scheduled for discussion with the DNMEs during 1998.
During 1997 the Committee completed a comprehensive Inventory on Support Measures and Arrangements provided to International Shipping. The information collated in this inventory, together with similar information from selected non-Member economies, was used in preparing a report which is the first stage of a wider study on support measures. This wider study will aim to establish full transparency on all types of support arrangements granted to alleviate employment costs, support measures provided to the shipping companies and those granted to owned and controlled vessels.
The Committee will consider proposals for the second stage of the wider study early in 1998. Delegations continued to be invited to provide updated information on these measures to ensure that the Inventory is kept up to date.
The MTC decided to examine the role that could be played, directly or indirectly, by maritime transport players other than the shipowner in the shipping market, to reduce the incidence of substandard shipping. The OECD was directed to seek the views of industry in the drafting of its paper.
In respect of maritime trade in services negotiations, which are expected to recommence at the WTO in 2000, the Committee prepared a stock-taking of existing impediments to maritime and multimodal transport in non-OECD countries. This stocktaking will assist MTC members in ranking the various impediments, such as access to cargoes and obstacles to maritime investments, and will facilitate the development of possible negotiating strategies.
During the year, the Committee formally consulted with the Trade Union Advisory Committee, on a range of maritime issues. During the course of those discussion the TUAC noted its growing interest in the economic aspects of the maritime sector, and expressed a wish to strengthen co-operation with the MTC. It noted that a special area of interest was the MTC's work on maritime safety.
The Committee also consulted regularly with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee on a range of maritime related matters.
Both Committees participated actively in the Workshop with China on maritime policies and practices held in Paris in November 1997.
Note: This Section reflects developments in the maritime sector as reported to the Committee by Members of the MTC, and does not purport to be a comprehensive record of all the developments that took place in the maritime sector during 1997.
ANL (previously the Australian Line). Legislation to facilitate the future sale of ANL was introduced in Parliament on 26November1997. It is expected that the sale process will be completed in financial year1998-99. The restructuring of ANL, which commenced in 1995, has resulted in a smaller more profitable company.
Australian Shipping Reform Initiatives. A Shipping Reform Group (SRG) comprising senior industry was appointed in August1996. The SRG provided its report to the Government on 25 March 1997. Its central recommendations were:
termination of the Seamen's Engagement System (a pooling arrangement for ratings) and a move to company employment);
establishment of an Australian second register (providing levels of fiscal support similar to those provided in other OECD countries) following the achievement of labour reform;
the phasing out of cabotage to allow overseas operators to compete with Australian operators for coastal trade; and
maintenance of appropriate safety standards.
The Government is still considering its full response to the SRG report, but announced an initial package of shipping reform measures on 18 December 1997 including:
the exemption of cruise shipping and the shipping trade with Christmas Island from the cabotage regime; a streamlining of the administration processes for granting voyage permits under the cabotage regime; and the termination of the Seafarers' Engagement System.
Industry Review of Marine Cargo Liability. The industry-based Marine Cargo Liability Working Group proposed, and the Government agreed to, a package of changes to Australia's marine cargo liability regime, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1991 ("the COGSA"). As a result, in September 1997, the automatic trigger for the Hamburg Rules was removed from the COGSA, and replaced by a mechanism for regular reviews of the question of whether Australia should implement the Hamburg Rules in place of the amended Hague Rules. The first review must be completed by 15 September 2002.
Waterfront Productivity and Enterprise Bargaining. The Government has introduced in Parliament a Reform package that sets seven benchmark objectives for reforming the Australian waterfront. The objectives, which are supported by the major stevedores, include:
An end to overmanning and restrictive work practices.
An increase in productivity to 25container lifts per hour, or better, as the national average.
Greater reliability through less industrial disruption and less interruption through elimination of disruptive work practices. The level of industrial action on the waterfront should be no worse, and preferably better, than the national average.
Injury and fatality levels must return to the "all industries" average or better.
Lower costs throughout the logistics chain of the waterfront gateway.
A drive to make full effective use of the technology available to increase productivity and improve ship turnaround times.
Improved training and active promotion of training opportunities and apprenticeship programmes.
The reform package includes provision for a levy on the stevedoring industry to fund redundancies within that industry.
A recently released study by the Australian Productivity Commission, "International Benchmarking of the Australian Waterfront", supports the Government's determination to reform the Australian waterfront. The key findings of that study were that Australia was under-performing on the waterfront and that there was significant scope for improvement. In particular, higher stevedoring productivity would improve timeliness and reliability.
Transport Interface. As part of the Export Gateways Initiative, the government is offering financial assistance, on a dollar for dollar basis, with the Australian state and territory governments, over two years, for the establishment of sea freight export councils. It is expected that these councils will address a range of issues identified in the Warehouse to Wharf reports. Membership will include representatives from port "interface efficiency councils" which have already been established. The seafreight councils will facilitate greater communication and coordination between those involved in the transport system linking producers and the waterfront. The councils will have strong industry representation and will become self-funding after the initial two-year period.
The Federal Government also established the National Transport Council in June1997, to identify and pursue solutions to specific problems in transport.
Port Authority Reform. A range of reforms undertaken by state governments in recent years, including corporatisation and contracting out of services, have resulted in significant reductions in port charges. However, a recently released study by the Australian Productivity Commission "International Benchmarking of the Australian Waterfront" found that Australia's port authority charges are generally higher than those overseas. The study found that the relatively high charges in Australia reflect the priority placed by owner governments on covering all costs and ensuring competitive neutrality.
The Government will continue to press the states on the need to further reduce port charges and will encourage privatisation of port functions and facilities where there is a public benefit.
Search and Rescue Arrangements. The new centre called AusSar commenced operations on 1July1997, following a review of the costs and benefits that would arise from an amalgamation of maritime and air search and rescue functions. The initiative for AusSar brings together the search and rescue co-ordination functions currently undertaken by Airservices Australia and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The new centre is managed by AMSA on behalf of the Government and will result in better co-ordinated, more efficient and responsive search and rescue operations.
National Marine Safety Committee. The first meeting of the National Marine Safety Committee was held in Melbourne on 4 March 1997. The Committee approved a draft National Marine Safety Strategy which was submitted to state and federal ministers at ATC in May 1997. The strategy, approved by ministers, provides a national framework for action to enhance safety and improve co-ordination of safety administration. It is principally aimed at small commercial and recreational vessels and users.
The Canada Marine Act. This was reintroduced in the new Parliament in October 1997. The first effort to enact this legislation ended when Parliament was dissolved and a federal election was called in April of 1997. The target date for the passage of the Act by Parliament is spring 1998.
The proposed legislation would implement the 1995 National Marine Policy designed to commercialise and strengthen Canada's marine sector. The legislation would make it easier for ports to operate according to business principles, would commercialise operations of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and improve the way pilotage authorities operate in Canada.
Ports. The Government of Canada will commercialise public ports, withdraw from direct operations, and enable users of the system to have more say in how the ports work. Ports that are essential to international and national trade will become Canada Port Authorities run by representatives nominated by user groups and government. Ports of regional/local importance will be transferred to provincial governments, municipal authorities, community organisations, private interests, and other groups over a six-year period. Ports serving isolated communities will remain a federal responsibility.
St. Lawrence Seaway. The Government of Canada has been pursuing the commercialisation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. Negotiations with a group of the largest Seaway users resulted in the signing of a letter of intent between the Department of Transport and the users' group which would see the locks and channels of the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Authority operated and maintained by a not-for-profit private sector corporation. The fixed assets of the system would continue to be owned by the Government of Canada. The target date for the transaction to be finalised is the spring of 1998. Authority to complete the deal depends on passage of the Canada Marine Act.
Marine Services Fee. The February 1995 Federal Budget set the context for cost recovery for the Canadian Coast Guard, based on the principle that those who benefit directly from services provided at public expense should pay a fair share of the associated cost. As a direct result, a marine navigation services fee, excluding icebreaking services, was implemented on 1 June 1996, to recover about C$20million of the full cost of Coast Guard navigation services provided to the commercial shipping industry over the remaining nine months of fiscal year 1996/97.
In response to industry concerns, a new approach to the cost recovery of marine navigation and icebreaking services was announced in March1997. This involves basing the fees on a percentage of direct costs rather than fixed revenue targets, exploring the creation of an arm's-length review mechanism, and the establishment of principles to guide fee structures and levels of service. A consultative process involving four working committees was to take place over the summer and fall of 1997. As an interim measure, the Coast Guard agreed to a fee structure for 1997/98, and this was implemented in July 1997. The fees are expected to generate $27million, or 27 per cent of the costs of service delivery over a fiscal year.
Reform of the Canada Shipping Act (CSA). The Act, which was last amended in 1993, deals with the activities of foreign ships in Canadian waters and Canadian ships in all waters. The Government has pledged to modernise the Act by completing a large-scale reform. General principles for modernising the Act include simplifying the legislative and regulatory framework, replacing outdated terminology, and moving excessively detailed information (such as guidelines) to other instruments.
The reform of the CSA is being done on two tracks. The first track is nearly complete, and includes the immediate revision of the existing Part 1 (Ownership and Registration) as well as the addition of a new General Part. A simultaneous second track, to be completed over the next two years, will review and reorganise the remaining sections of the Act. The first CSA Reform Bill was expected to be introduced in the House of Commons during the fall of 1997.
Amendment to the Liability Provisions of the Canada Shipping Act. In 1996 the Transport Minister introduced in Parliament a Bill to amend the Canada Shipping Act. The Bill would implement the provisions of the 1976 Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims and its 1996 Protocol. The amendment would also implement the provisions of the 1992 Protocols to the 1969 Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and to the 1971 Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage. The amendment did not pass through Parliament prior to the federal election in June 1997. However, identical amendments were reintroduced in the new Parliament in October 1997.
Canada/China Agreement on Maritime Transport. Canada's first maritime bilateral agreement was signed with China in Vancouver on 4 April 1997.
Financial Aid for Shipping. Germany continues to provide operating aid in the form of financial contributions (Finanzbeiträge) for ships flying the German flag based on their current book values.
The level of these contributions has been reduced due to general budgetary constraints. For the year 1997, an amount of about DM30 million will be made available. In addition to this, a further amount of DM4.2 million is being provided to promote training of German seafaring personnel.
Second Register. A proposal for the establishment of a second register, similar to those that exist in other countries in the Community, is before Parliament. It provides for these ships to employ foreign crews (though the ships would not be allowed to participate in cabotage trade) and for the introduction of a fixed tonnage tax (taxation similar to that in Greece). The proposal, however, has met with difficulties.
FMC proposed rule. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) alleged that the prior consultation system for harbour transport services in Japan created conditions unfavourable to US shipping carriers. In September 1997 it imposed sanctions which imposed a fee of one hundred thousand dollars upon three Japanese shipping carriers each time they entered into any port in the United States.
The prior consultation system, which is designed to settle labour management disputes, is based upon agreement by the three private parties concerned: the carriers, the Japan Harbor Transportation Association and the port labour unions.
The Japanese and United States governments have been working intensively to resolve this issue.
Recent legislative developments. Regulatory reform is a major policy issue and a review of competition policy exemption is an important part of that reform. In March, the Government decided to initiate a review of competition policy exemption, which would include a hearing by the Administration Reform Commission relating to international shipping.
Port Privatization. Most port facilities in Korea are owned and operated by the government. This has resulted in many problems, such as inefficient terminal operations due to an inflexible operation system and inconsistent berthing and stevedoring procedures.
As a measure to resolve these problems, the Korean government introduced the Terminal Operating Company System to Pusan and Inchon Ports in January 1997, whereby the government would continue ownership of port facilities, but would lease operating rights of the facilities to private companies, which would then have exclusive use of them. Korea plans to expand the application of the system to other ports in the near future.
Under the system, private companies can install state-of-the-art stevedoring facilities and improve productivity at their respective terminals by centrally controlling berth and yard operations. On the other hand, the government, according to the benefit principle, will receive a rent payment from the private companies and will reinvest it in port development.
Reduction of Port Charges on Tankers Equipped with SBT. In line with the IMO recommendation that tankers be equipped with Segregated Ballast Tanks (SBT), from January 1997 the Korean government is allowing a 15 per cent cut in port charges, such as those for entry, berthing and anchorage, for tankers equipped with SBT.
Automotive Decree. When Mexico joined the OECD and placed a reservation on Item C/1 of the Code of Liberalisation of Current Invisible Operations, due to its automotive decree, it indicated that this reservation would be removed by 1 January 2004, but that it was ready to examine whether this date could be advanced. At the time, Mexico was not in a position to present an exact calendar concerning the decree but, after negotiation with the private sector in Mexico, it is now able to confirm that the date has been advanced to the year 2002, subject to approval through the legislative process.
Modernisation of the Polish shipping industry. Polish ship repair yards now not only carry out ship repair on all types of ships but they also deal with the conversion of vessels and the modernisation of, inter alia, ferry boats to bring them in line with the new international maritime safety and navigation requirements.
The training programmes of maritime academies and colleges were also modernised. Recently, in addition to the traditional navigation and mechanics faculties, a new administration faculty was established for educating experts and surveyors in maritime offices, and for protecting the environment.
Recent legislation. The entry into force of the Law on Ports and Harbours makes a distinction between the management of the port infrastructure and operational activities. It provides that the infrastructure--land and sea--around the port area will be owned by the State or by the community (the local authorities).
Social security system. The Polish government has initiated another reform of the social security system. This applies to maritime transport, and would result in the reduction of owners' contributions to the social security fund.
A bilateral agreement on co-operation in maritime transport between Poland and China has been concluded.
Support measures. Parliament decided to prolong support measures related to repayment of seamen's taxes and certain coverage for social fees, within a new system comprising, inter alia, a more flexible definition of those entitled to receive the support. The measures cover Swedish flagged ships in foreign trade, but, as a rule, passenger ships will not be covered by the legislation.
Common strategy to reduce air polluting emissions. Parliament approved the introduction of differentiated shipping dues to stimulate the use of clean technologies on board.
The two decisions will enter into force 1 January 1998.
One of the United Kingdom's key objectives is to promote an efficient and competitive British shipping industry - for importers and exporters - through pursuing the principle of free trade and open markets, while maintaining and improving the level of maritime safety and minimising the risk of pollution of the marine environment from ships.
Support measures. The Government is committed to working - in partnership with the industry - to reverse the recent decline of the British merchant fleet and the number of British seafarers, and to help develop the industry's economic potential to the full. A package of positive measures aims to improve the competitiveness of UK shipping. It includes assistance towards officer training, assistance in relieving UK crews in foreign ports, and beneficial income tax treatment for seafarers in deep-sea trades. The United Kingdom has also simplified registration law, liberalised officer nationality on UK ships, and introduced roll-over relief on capital allowances balancing charges. A Shipping Working Group is considering further ways to promote British shipping.
Safety and environmental protection. The United Kingdom is committed to deterring substandard shipping and ensuring that any substandard ships attempting to operate in its waters are identified quickly and dealt with effectively. It remains a key target of the United Kingdom's Marine Safety Agency (Maritime and Coastguard Agency from April 1998) to inspect 25-30 per cent of foreign flagged vessels calling at UK ports each year. The United Kingdom also believes that action must be taken at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) - as the only global standard-setting organisation - to ensure uniform application of international standards. The United Kingdom continues to play a leading role in the IMO's Flag State Implementation Sub-Committee in seeking to develop clear performance criteria for flag states and objectives means of measuring performance against them.
The United Kingdom is firmly committed to securing improvements in the prevention of pollution from shipping. The Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997 contains important new measures to improve the prevention and control of marine pollution and raise safety standards at sea. When marine pollution does occur, it is essential to learn all possible lessons from the incident to prevent a recurrence. With this objective in mind, Lord Donaldson has been appointed to carry out a wide-ranging, independent review of marine salvage and intervention operations.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which would amend substantially the 1984 Shipping Act, is still under review in the Senate.
Port Practices in Japan. In response to unfavourable conditions facing US shipping in Japanese ports, the Federal Maritime Commission issued a final rule on 26 February 1997 to assess per-voyage fees of $100 000 on Japanese liner carriers. The effective date of the final rule was later postponed from 14 April to 4 September to allow the Government of Japan and affected parties further opportunity to resolve the problems. The rule went into effect as scheduled on 4 September. On 27 October, the FMC agreed to accept a compromise payment of $1.5 million from Japanese shipping lines in full satisfaction of the $4 million owed (and overdue) for the month of September, and agreed to take no further action while US and Japanese negotiators completed discussion of a comprehensive reform plan. On 10 November, the Departments of State and Transportation reported to the FMC on talks between the US and Japanese governments and two agreements reached among the Government of Japan and commercial interests about the prior consultation system. In response to the report and recommendations from the two agencies, the FMC suspended the final rule on 13 November, which has the effect of ceasing both the assessment of fees on Japanese carriers and the requirement that they report vessel calls.
Congressional Review of Regulatory Law. In March, a bill to amend competition law for the international shipping industry was introduced into the Senate. The bill would combine the Federal Maritime Commission with the Surface Transportation Board of the Department of Transportation, with the new agency named the Intermodal Transportation Board. Carriers would no longer have to file tariffs with the government, but would have to make them available electronically. Individual carriers could negotiate confidential service contracts with one or more shippers. Conferences, however, would have to continue filing their joint service contracts with the government, and disclose essential terms to the public. The bill will need approval at committee level before going to the full Senate for consideration.
Design, Inspection and Certification of US Vessels. Under an alternate compliance programme established in December1996, the US Coast Guard may issue a certificate of inspection to a US vessel based upon the reports of a recognised, authorised classification society, including foreign classification societies.
Standards for Existing Oil Tankers. In a rule issued in July 1996 on operational requirements for single hull tankers, the Coast Guard required notification of under-keel clearance. However, the Coast Guard suspended the clearance notification requirement in November 1996, and asked for comments on the provision.
External relations in the field of maritime transport. The Commission approved in March 1997 a communication on the Union's "External Relations in the field of Maritime Transport". This document, following the one adopted in March 1996 on maritime strategy, which identified external relations as a key area of action, builds upon experience and considerable achievements over the past ten years in implementing the Community maritime transport policy, as established by the package of Council Regulations adopted in 1986.
The Commission considers that, in pursuing its efforts to achieve its key market access objectives, the main instrument should be the multilateral negotiations in the context of the WTO. However, since these discussions are not due to resume until the year 2000, the Commission will in the meantime use all the instruments, negotiations and opportunities available to achieve these objectives, in the expectation that they could ultimately become a springboard for a multilateral agreement in the WTO.
Negotiation of maritime agreements. In January 1997, the Commission addressed to the Council Recommendations for authorisation to negotiate maritime agreements with China and India.
Report on maritime transport relations with the Central and West African countries. In this Report, adopted by the Commission in February 1997, the Commission underlined the persistence of non-competitive practices, such as cargo reservation for national shipping companies which restrict commercial possibilities of Community shipowners, in the Central and West African countries. The report suggests the use of Community programmes of financial assistance for development (provided for in the Lomé Convention) to complement its study programmes and diplomatic actions, in order to promote liberalisation in the countries concerned.
Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement (TACA). In November 1996, the Commission adopted a decision lifting the immunity from fines enjoyed by the parties to the TACA, in respect of their agreement to fix prices for inland transport services supplied within the Community. The TACA parties are all liner shipping companies, and the TACA applies to their carriage operations between Northern Europe and the United States. The decision's preliminary conclusion is that the TACA provisions on inland-rate fixing constitute a manifest and serious infringement of Article 85(1), and that there is no possibility of individual exemption for the TACA provisions in their present form.
P&O/Royal Nedlloyd. In December 1996 the Commission adopted a Decision authorising the creation of a common enterprise between P&O and Nedlloyd. P&O Nedlloyd Container Line Ltd., the common enterprise, will acquire the long-distance container shipping activities and the other landside connected activities of its mother companies. It will be the third largest container transport operator world-wide and the second in Europe.
North Sea Conference. In January 1997, the Commission decided to authorise the North Sea Liner Conference agreement. Under this consortium agreement, three shipping lines, Finncarriers, Poseidon and United Baltic Corporation, operate jointly a regular ferry service by which they provide transport services for ro-ro and containerised cargo between ports and points in Finland, and ports and points in Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as ports and points in the United Kingdom and on to Ireland.
In September 1997, the Government of Russia approved the concept of the "State Transport Policy of the Russian Federation", which contains a section on maritime transport and inland water transport. Among other points, the Government will no longer finance any vessels apart from ice breaking, salvage and hydrological vessels and will gradually address the issue of access to inland waterways, starting with the Volga-Don waterways which connects the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.