Circular No.64  on the Implementing Rules of the International Container Liner Precise Freight Filing
Issued by the Ministry of Transport of People’s Republic of China on October 15th, 2013
For the purpose of maintaining the order of China’s international container liner market, safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the relevant parties involved in international maritime transportation and further improving implementation of international container liner freight filing on August 2009, the precise 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 precise freight filing are issued as follows:
International container liner operators are providing marine cargo transportation services in respect of remuneration, including maritime freight (Ocean Freight) and maritime related surcharges (including THC). International container liner freight rates are regulated by the market, according to the liner operators operating costs and shipping market supply and demand, as well as international conventions or industry practices. The liner operators should follow the legal operation and bona fide principles to offer transport service at a normal and reasonable level.
The freight filing obligor refers to the operator that holds the Operation Certificate of International Liner Services and engages in the container transport.
The freight rates to be filed include the tariff rates and the negotiated rates. “Tariff rates” refer to the freight rates provided in the tariff book of international liner services operators or announced freight rate through open channel. “Negotiated rates” refer to the freight rates agreed upon between international liner services operators and shippers or non-vessel-operation common carriers.
The freight filing obligor shall file ocean freight of export containerized goods carried from China’s ports to foreign base ports (including freight rate and related ocean surcharges) in the format that is provided by Shanghai Shipping Exchange and consented by the Ministry of Transport. In case that the actual executed freight rates are inconsistent with the tariff rates, the obligor shall file the rates as negotiated rates. The filed tariff rates shall take effect thirty (30) days after the date when such filing is accepted. The negotiated rates shall enter into force 24 hours after the acceptance of the filing. However the first filed freight rates after the Rules entry into force shall immediately become effective on the date of acceptance. Before filing, the freight filing obligor is to complete filing of liner service lanes (including slot exchange). The rates of newly opened lanes are deemed as immediately effective when the filing is accepted. Before new or increase of surcharges, the freight filing obligor is to well communicating and negotiating with paying parties and provide in filing reasonable explanation of such new or increased surcharges.
All the provincial authorities in charge of transport as well as port and shipping affairs should reinforce 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 with penalty of no less than RMB20,000 but no more than RMB100,000 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 with penalty of no less than RMB20,000 but no more than RMB100,000 in accordance with Article 53 of the Regulations.
Pursuant to Article 40 of the Regulations, the Ministry of Transport may adopt restrictive or prohibitive measures such as limiting voyage frequency, suspension of tariff rate application, suspension of freight filing acceptance towards the liner operator that impairs fair competition.
The Rules shall enter into force on November 15th, 2013 with three months lenient period. Circular No.20  on the Implementing Rules of the International Container Liner Freight Filing issued by the Ministry of Transport shall be concurrently repealed. Published by General Office of Ministry of Transport on October 18th, 2013