The Canals Panel reports to the Shipping Policy Committee (SPC). It sets and oversees the global shipping industry’s agenda and official positions on matters related to major international shipping canals, which have a significant impact on international shipping trade.
The Canals Panel maintains high level contacts with relevant shipping Canal authorities, to ensure proper industry representation and consultation on any Canal developments that affect commercial, trade or operational aspects of international shipping.
This includes providing official, consensus based responses (on behalf of the global shipping industry) to relevant public consultations conducted by national canal authorities.
“Panama and Suez are canals and as such invaluable national assets for the Panamanian and Egyptian people. At the same time, they are indispensable public infrastructures underpinning world trade and people’s lives. I therefore firmly believe that it is canal authorities’ responsibilities to provide reliable and stable services on a long-term basis.
Accountability, transparency, stability and foreseeability should be a key for the management of the canals. A unilateral and sudden change of the tolls, which we have sometimes seen in the past, is completely unacceptable.
I strongly hope that a constructive and regular dialogue between both canal authorities and ICS will be established in the near future in order to contribute to a better future as a supporter of the global economy.”
Takashi Nakashima, Chair Canals Panel and Vice President, JSA
Providing shorter maritime trade routes between countries and faster connection between oceans, the major shipping canals are among the most important waterways in the world and are of vital importance to world trade, noting that the global shipping industry, as represented by ICS, transports around 90% of world trade.
The Panel provides a consultative platform through which members of ICS discuss a range of canal related issues and their impact on trade in particular. It also serves to strengthen the voice of ICS (in particular) and the global shipping industry (in general), on shipping canal issues with those national canal authorities that have an impact on the international shipping industry.
Reporting to the ICS Shipping Policy Committee (SPC), the Canals Sub-Committee establishes a framework that serves as a basis for the global shipping industry’s position on shipping canal related issues. This includes liaising and fostering relationships with leading national canal authorities, such as the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
The Canals Sub-Committee functions in accordance with the bullet points outlined below. With respect to what ICS members are responsible for, the majority of the work conducted within the framework of the Sub-Committee (ICS Secretariat and members) is undertaken on a cooperative basis, with members providing inputs (via email and phone calls) to the ICS Secretariat, to address specific canal related issues. Based on all the inputs received on any given issue, a common ICS position is established and communicated to the relevant authorities. All Sub-Committee members contribute as much as possible, with collection of information, agreeing on the way forward, etc.
The aims and objectives of the Canals Sub-Committee are as follows:
- Fostering a strong long-term relationship between ICS and the national canal authorities.
- Share information about the policies of national canal authorities that have an impact on national shipping industries.
- Liaise closely with national canal authorities to communicate the consensus position of the global shipping industry.
- Co-operate, whenever appropriate, with other international shipping organisations including regional partners, ECSA and ASA.
- Support development of effective and considered national shipping canal policies.
- Ensure that the interests of shipping are properly addressed in policy areas related to shipping canals.
- Address any other canal related issues that may have trade or commercial implications for international shipping.
- Dissemination of relevant information to ICS members with respect to Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Circulars and Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Advisories to shipping
The various tolls and other charges paid by ships crossing these canals, represent a significant source of income for both national canal authorities, as custodians of the canals, and their national economies. The vast majority of interaction between ICS and shipping canal authorities is primarily related to these tolls and charges.
- Modifications to Panama Canal toll charges. The latest were proposed in the summer of 2019 and implemented since April 2020.
- Implementation of Modifications to Panama Canal Conservation Strategies, by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). This strategy has introduced new fee and operational changes (separate from standard toll charges) to address historic low water levels at the Canal’s main water source (Gatun Lake). Its impact on trade and the ability of ships to cross the canal has been significant since the implementation of new charges in February 2020.
- Stocktaking meetings between ICS and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).
- Ongoing outreach initiative to promote the establishment of an official framework for regular high level dialogue between ICS and the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).