Asian Shippers Council shifts permanent Secretariat to Sri Lanka

This week the Asian Shippers Council (ASC), the largest maritime representative body in the world, announced that it will shift its permanent Secretariat to Sri Lanka from Singapore. The shippers are the first to take advantage of Sri Lanka’s new permanent state of peace after nearly 30 years of war and also Sri Lanka’s geographic location in the maritime routes.


“Asia is the world’s biggest merchandise exporter and about 90% of these exports are through the sea. The ASC represents shippers from all of Asia. This includes Greater China, North East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia and Oceania. So the ASC represents that largest maritime body in the world. The ASC is also the Asian component of the Global Shippers’ Forum. So this shift in permanent Secretariat means that thousands of shippers around the world will recognise Sri Lanka as a central point,” the Secretary General of the ASC, Rohan Masakorala told journalists this week announcing the shift of the Secretariat to Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, Colombo.


The shift to Colombo, says the ASC will highlight Colombo as an important transhipment and aviation location in the South Asian region. The move is also expected to increase confidence internationally in Sri Lanka and help reduce high insurance charges on freight from Sri Lanka.


The freight insurance rates are set by Lloyds, the international insurance company, based on a country risk assessment. Sri Lanka has been asking Lloyds to reduce its risk rating on Sri Lanka, because the country is no longer at war. “By shifting the permanent Secretariat from Singapore to Sri Lanka, the biggest maritime body in the world, is giving a clear signal to the rest of the world. So this will increase confidence in Sri Lanka and will help in many ways. This will also help reduce the risk rating on Sri Lanka and will promote tourism and will hep bring in investments,” said Mr Masakorala.


The shippers are also lobbying to bring in new regulations to control cartelization and arbitrary pricing, by shipping lines. “We are even now discussing the need for new anti-competitive regulations with the government. Other Asian countries are also looking into this. I am very confident China and India will bring in new regulations soon,” said Mr Masakorala. The shippers say the shipping lines arbitrarily introduce new and additional charges hurting domestic export sectors in developing Asian countries.