|Circular No.20  on the Implementing Rules of the International|
Circular No.20  on the Implementing Rules of the International
Container Liner Freight Filing
Issued by the Ministry of Transport of People’s Republic of China on June 10th, 2009
For the purpose of maintaining the order of China’s international container liner market, protecting fair competition, safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the relevant parties involved in international maritime transportation and promoting healthy development of shipping industry, the freight filing of the international container liner services shall be implemented in accordance with Article 20 of the Regulations of People’s Republic of China on International Maritime Transportation (hereinafter referred as the Regulations). The implementing rules for freight filing are issued as follows:
I. Basic Principles
The freight rates of international container liner services fall into the scope of market-oriented adjustable price, which are decided by the liner operators themselves. The liner operators should follow the legal operation and bona fide principles, improve transport service quality and efficiency, reduce operational costs, and charge normal and reasonable freight rates in light of actual transport operational costs and supply and demand conditions of the market. Any cargo soliciting at “zero” or “negative” freight rate shall be prohibited.
II. Freight Filing Obligor
The freight filing obligor refers to the operator that holds the Operation Certificate of International Liner Services and engages in the container transport.
III. Scope of Application
The freight rates to be filed include the tariff rates and the negotiated rates.
The freight filing obligor shall file the range of ocean freight of export containerized goods carried from China’s ports to foreign base ports, i.e. the maximum and minimum freight quotes. Such range shall be normal and reasonable. In case that the freight rates are beyond the filed range of tariff rates, the obligor shall file the rates as negotiated rates. These negotiated rates shall enter into force 24 hours after the acceptance of the filing.
The base ports refer to the ports that the ships (including ships with slot charter or sharing) of liner operators directly call at within the scope publicized by the Ministry of Transport.
The liner operators may independently decide the range of freight rates based on the liner services they offer but shall file such rates in the format filed by Shanghai Shipping Exchange and accepted by the Ministry of Transport.
The liner operators may independently change the range of freight rates as the case may need. The filed range of tariff rates shall take effect thirty (30) days after the date upon which the range is accepted for fling. However the first filed range of freight rates after these Rules’ entry into force shall immediately become effective on the date of acceptance.
IV. Agency Accepting Freight Filling
The Ministry of Transport hereby designates Shanghai Shipping Exchange as the agency to accept freight filing, which shall formulate operating guidelines and provide technology service according to these Rules.
Shanghai Shipping Exchange and all its staff members shall properly keep the filed freight information without prejudice to any commercial confidentiality.
V. Supervision and Inspection
All the provincial authorities in charge of transport as well as port and shipping affairs shall reinforce their supervision over their local international maritime transport market and strengthen the on-site inspection. Any enterprise in breach of the Regulations shall be required for rectification within a certain time limit and the case shall be reported to the Ministry of Transport.
i. The liner operators shall, in case of failure to go through filing formalities or apply the freight rates as filed, be required to rectify within a certain time limit and a fine of no less than RMB20,000 but no more than RMB100,000 shall be imposed concurrently in accordance with Article 49 of the Regulations.
ii. Where the filed freight rates go beyond the normal and reasonable scope, which seriously deviate from the average level of the filed rates by the liner operators of the same scale offering the same service and may impair the market fair competition, the Ministry of Transport will conduct investigation as per Chapter V of the Regulations.
During the investigation, the liner operator in question shall faithfully provide the investigatory authorities with all the transport documents, freight invoices, service contracts, account billings and other relevant materials of each voyage without any refusal, concealment or misstatement. In case of refusal of investigation or unfaithful providing materials, the liner operator in question shall be required to rectify within a certain time limit and a fine of no less than RMB20,000 but no more than RMB100,000 shall be imposed concurrently in accordance with Article 53 of the Regulations.
Pursuant to Article 40 of the Regulations, the Ministry of Transport shall adopt restrictive or prohibitive measures such as limiting voyage frequency, suspension of tariff rate application, suspension of freight filing acceptance towards the liner operator whose business conducts impair fair competition.
VII. Date of Entry into Force
These Rules shall enter into force on June 15th, 2009 with forty-five (45) days as transitional implementation period. The Implementing Rules on Freight Filing System of Container Liners Engaged in International Voyages (Jiaoshuifa  No. 880) issued by the Ministry of Transport (formerly known as the Ministry of Communications) in 1996 shall concurrently repeal.
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