Amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act have passed through their second reading in the House of Commons with little opposition and are now on the last leg towards becoming law.
They will now be sent to a Commons committee for further study and recommendations before receiving a third reading in the House of Commons. If amendments make it past the third reading stage they will then be sent to the Senate for final approval.
The amendments call for confidential contracts by individual ocean carriers with shippers but they stop short of ordering the end of shipping conferences as many shippers had lobbied for. Canadian shippers are miffed that a clause once proposed by the government, which would have put a five- or a 10-year sunset clause into effect on the ability of shipping conferences to continue with their current anti-trust immunity, has been axed from the amendments.
Ottawa’s reasoning for the amendments has been to bring Canada’s legislation in line with the U.S. and other major sea faring nations. However, the lack of any noticeable decline in port traffic at major Canadian ports in the past two years since the U.S. deregulated its own container traffic industry may have made it easier for the Ottawa to acquiesce to marine carrier demands to retain shipping conferences.
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