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Liner Conferences

Volume 82: debated on Monday 1 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress is being made towards the United Kingdom and other European countries becoming parties to the United Nations convention on a code of conduct for liner conferences.

The United Kingdom has acceded to this convention on 28 June together with Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands are already parties. The convention, together with the EC regulations known as the Brussels package, steers a course between competing claims of different countries. Those countries which wish to reserve a fixed proportion of conference cargoes may do so while those countries, like the United Kingdom, which wish to ensure that commercial principles continue to govern cargo sharing between their lines have retained that right.It is important that British industry has access to regular shipping services at competitive rates and we have taken steps to ensure that the code's provisions are not misused to dampen competition. Our accession to the code is on the condition that we will only be bound by the convention while our trading partners allow non-conference lines to compete in trades serving the United Kingdom. The code also provides a welcome enhancement in the rights of shippers and their organisations in dealing with liner conferences.