According to our Shanghai office, 7 Chinese governmental bodies including the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) have released a notice last week announcing that 10 Chinese ports will resume foreign crew change operations with certain requirements in place, taking into account of the current COVID-19 situation.
The 10 ports allowing for foreign crew change are Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Haikou.
All shipping companies are advised to comply with the requirements set out in the said notice when effecting crew change which are as follows:
Foreign crew signing off
- comply with Chinese entry and staying regulations during the epidemic period;
- acquire a valid departing air ticket, vessel ticket or bus ticket;
- the disembarking point has facility to arrange “point-to-point” transfer to the outbound gate within the same city;
- the ship in question has left the last foreign port in more than 14 days;
- crew on board keeps a sound health and quarantine record;
- crew change will be permitted at the designated Chinese port upon clearance by the Chinese Customs carrying out a proper quarantine checkout together with negative nucleic acid testing result; and
- the shipping company is required to rent a car to transfer the foreign crew from the disembarking point to the outbound gate point directly within the same city, or to embark another outbound ship directly once disembarking without any further stay in China.
In addition to the above, all shipping companies are advised to :
- closely monitor the port’s local quarantine conditions; and
- shall implement a closed-loop management as per the quarantine requirements issued by the local port.
The said notice introduces a quarantine circuit-breaker mechanism. It operates in the following manner; a shipping company’s foreign crew change operations will be suspended for 15 days if there were 5 tested positive cases detected in their ship aggregate; or suspended for 30 days if there was found 10 tested positive cases in their ship aggregate. More than 10 tested positive cases found, the shipping company will not be allowed to operate until they pass a fresh assessment conducted by the relevant authorities.
It is BIMCO’s understanding that the various Chinese ports may take different pragmatic approaches when dealing with the foreign crew change. In practice, the final say lies ultimately with the local port government (the city's leading group office of epidemic prevention and control) instead of the MOT in Beijing. As such, BIMCO recommends that members planning to have crew change conducted in China, to consult their local agents for the latest requirements implemented by the port in question.
BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes. Below are some of the type of information currently being provided by BIMCO :
You can also view all information on our COVID-19 landing page.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has issued a notice expanding China’s waste import ban by adding 32 types of solid waste, including “ships and other floating objects destined for scrapping”, to the list.
According to the notice, ships registered under a non-Chinese flag will not be permitted to be imported and further recycled at any Chinese recycling shipyard. The notice will enter into force on 31 December 2018.
The new regulation also includes situations when a non-Chinese ship carry cargo destined to China, with the ship itself destined for recycling in the country while anchoring at a Chinese quay. The new regulation will put an end to this practice too.
In theory, buyers can re-flag non-Chinese ships to the Chinese flag first, and then import the ship as a second-hand ship for scrapping. This practice however, will most likely not represent an attractive business model going forward, as it will trigger a 9% Import Customs Duty as well as 17% VAT.
(Promulgated by Decree No.6 of the Ministry of Communications on 19 August 1996)
Article 1 For the purpose of facilitating the development of the shipping industry across the Taiwan Strait, maintaining a normal shipping order, and developing the cross-Strait economic and trade relations, these measures are formulated in accordance with the principle of "one China, direct two-way shipping, mutual benefit and mutual preference."
Article 2 These measures are applicable to direct cargo and passenger shipping between the ports of the Chinese mainland and those of the Taiwan region (hereinafter referred to as cross-Strait shipping).
Article 3 Cross-Strait shipping belongs to the range of domestic transportation under special administration.
Article 4 The Ministry of Communications of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the Ministry of Communications) is the competent authority in charge of the matters relating to cross-Strait shipping.
Article 5 If approved by the Ministry of Communications, the ships owned or operated by the shipping companies which have been registered in the Chinese mainland and the Taiwan region and possess the following qualifications may engage in cross-Strait shipping:
1. The solely-owned shipping companies of the Chinese mainland or the Taiwan region;
2. The equity joint ventures as formed by shipping companies from the Chinese mainland and the Taiwan region.
Article 6 In applying for engaging in cross-Strait shipping, the local shipping companies registered in the Chinese mainland shall submit the application to the competent departments of communications of various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government where the companies are situated for examination and approval, and then to the Ministry of Communications for approval; the shipping companies subordinated to various departments of the State Council shall submit the application to the relevant competent departments for examination, and then to the Ministry of Communications for approval.
The shipping companies registered in the Taiwan region of China shall entrust their shipping agencies in the mainland with the responsibility of submitting the application, which shall be forwarded to the competent departments of communications of various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government where the agencies are situated for examination and approval, and then to the Ministry of Communications for approval.
Article 7 A shipping company applying for engaging in cross-Strait shipping shall submit the following documents:
2. Data of ships;
3. A sample bill of lading;
4. Other documents as required by the Ministry of Communications.
Article 8 The Ministry of Communications shall decide on approval or disapproval within 45 days upon receipt of the application, and notify the applicant of its decision in the written form.
Article 9 The Ministry of Communications shall issue a License for Water Way Transportation across the Taiwan Strait and a Business License for Shipping across the Taiwan Strait to the approved cross-Strait shipping company and its ships.
The above-mentioned licenses shall be valid for 1 year.
Article 10 Without the approval of the Ministry of Communications, foreign shipping companies shall not be allowed to engage in direct two-way or transit cargo and passenger shipping across the Taiwan Strait.
Article 11 The ports and the shipping agencies of the mainland which provide services to cross-Strait shipping shall be approved and announced by the Ministry of communications.
Without approval, none of the ports and shipping agencies of the mainland shall be allowed to engage in the businesses relating to cross-Strait shipping.
Article 12 No port authority departments shall be permitted to go through the formalities concerning the entry into or exit from the ports for the ships engaging in cross-Strait shipping without approval of the Ministry of Communications, and the Ports shall not be allowed to load and unload cargo for these ships, and the shipping agencies shall be forbidden to conduct freight forwarding business for them.
Article 13 When a shipping company is, in violation of the stipulations of Articles 5 and 11, engaged n cross-Strait shipping without approval, the Ministry of Communications shall serve it a warning and confiscate its unlawful income.
Article 14 When an operator of port or a shipping agency in violation of Article 12, provides relevant services for the ships of the shipping companies without the business license for cross-Strait shipping, the Ministry of Communications shall serve it a warning and confiscate unlawful income; those which are in serious violation of these measures shall, apart from receiving the above-mentioned punishments, be disqualified from engaging in the businesses relating to cross-Strait shipping.
Article 15 These measures shall come into force as of August 20, 1996.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation
Trading restrictions imposed against China
Trading restrictions imposed by China
The following is a brief summary of Chinese trade restrictions based on information made available from local sources.
For the purpose of this summary Taiwan, Province of China is referred to as region B, Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region as region C and the remainder of China as region A.
- Vessels flying the flag of / registered in region A are permitted to call region B only if owners obtain a permit in advance from Region B authorities.
- Vessels flying the flag of / registered in region B are permitted to call region A only if owners obtain a permit in advance from Region A authorities.
- Vessels flying the flag of / registered in region B are permitted to trade to region C.
- Vessels registered in region C which fly the People's Republic of China flag directly above the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag are permitted to call region B provided such vessels only fly the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag upon arrival.
- Owners / operators who are residents of region B are permitted to send vessels to Region A provided they are registered in another country.
- Officers / crew from region A are permitted to enter region B ports provided they are employed on non Chinese vessels.
Such officers / crew flying to Region B for joining ship or going ashore for repatriation must obtain a 'Taiwan Entry Visa' in advance, which requires 2-3 working days to obtain. As to going ashore for medical treatment, it requires 2-3 working hours to obtain a Taiwan Entry Visa.
- Officers / crew from region B are permitted to enter region A ports provided they are employed on non Chinese vessels.
- So-called direct trade is permitted between 63 region A ports and 11 region B ports . However, this trade is limited to vessels flying flags of either region or vessels flying a third country flag but 100% owned by owners of either region.
- Non Chinese registered vessels are permit direct sailing between regions A and B if (i) vessel sails with transit cargo only (without loading any cargo from region A for discharging in region B or visa versa) or (ii) vessel is in ballast (without any cargo on board). Such vessels will be allowed by the Taiwan Port Authorities direct sailing between the regions, provided the ship's handling agents in both regions apply for a 'Direct Sailing Permit' in advance. If either agent fails to obtain the permit the vessel will not be allowed direct sailing.
The following documents are required by the Taiwan Port Authorities for granting 'Direct Sailing Permit'
- Cargo Manifests or Bs/L copies for all transit cargo (or copy of Cargo Fixture Note)
- Ship's Port Rotation (itinerary) Schedule
- Ship's Registry
- Charter Party (signed between ship owners and managements or operators or final charters, if chartered vessel)
In addition to the aforesaid required documents all vessels must be equipped with ASI System (Automatic Ship Identification System)
Non Chinese registered vessels without a 'Direct Sailing Permit' will have call from or sail to said ports via a neutral port such as Okinawa or Ishigaki, Japan or Korean ports, etc. just to obtain a port clearance. With regard to neutral ports, both region A and B have granted region C special status, with the port of Hong Kong being treated as a "neutral port".
- Liner vessels carrying containers / breakbulk cargo exported from region A to region B or vice versa can only be carried by Region A or B flagged vessels and all such vessels must apply for permits in advance. After obtaining permits vessels may directly sail between both regions without having to sail via a neutral port.
- In region B South Korean flagged vessels are banned from loading / discharging cargo(es) which are coming from or destined to Japan, with the exception of non-liner vessels carrying bulk cargo/bulk shipments.