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Ports & Ships Maritime News

29 July 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002


We wish all our Muslim readers a family-focused and peaceful Eid Mubarak.

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DSC5047c 470 steve mccurrach

Looking across a portion of Durban Bay, with a cruise ship at the N-Shed Passenger Terminal and the yacht basin and maritime museum lying beyond while the City of Durban creates the backdrop. Even further behind the city wall and just visible are the verdant fields of Greyville Racecourse on which South Africa’s premier horse race, the Durban July, is run on the first Saturday of July, within shouting distance of the CBD. Such tranquil scenes are almost contradictory of this being Africa’s busiest harbour. Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserv.co.za

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Rob Davies[1]
Trade & Industry Minister Rob Davies

South Africa wants the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) to be extended for a 15-year period.

“Our views as South Africa are very similar to the views of Africa, Agoa eligible countries. We believe that Agoa has been a useful platform for cooperation between Africa and the US, and we are calling for an extension for 15 years,” Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies said on Monday.

Briefing reporters ahead of next week’s United States–Africa Leaders’ Summit (USALS), Minister Davies said the summit will be held in two parts, with one aspect focusing on trade and investment and the other focusing on security and human development.

President Jacob Zuma will lead a delegation to USALS, which includes Minister Davies and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, among others. USALS will take place from 4 - 6 August and will include an Agoa ministerial meeting.

Agoa provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry into the United States for certain goods.

South Africa would like to see itself included in the rollover of Agoa, which expires in 2015. The extension, said the minister, should be for a 15-year period as a shorter timeframe will create uncertainty.

“An extension of 15 years will allow certainty for investments that are going to be made in African countries to take advantage of the Agoa opportunities. We believe that a rollover for that period of time on more or less the existing architecture would be a mutually beneficial and developmental decision that could be taken by the US,” he said.

On a question of South Africa’s possible exclusion from Agoa because of its perceived middle income status, Minister Davies said government is arguing for South Africa’s inclusion.

“At this point in time, we are arguing for South Africa’s inclusion. One of the points we’ve made is that what will be the alternative if we are left out? As SACU [Southern African Customs Union] some years ago, we explored the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and we all decided, including the US, that that wasn’t really going to work, given the different levels of development and the non-existence of policies in some of our fellow SACU countries on some of the matters that the US was seeking commitments on,” he said.

The impact of South Africa’s exclusion from Agoa -- which was signed into law in May 2000 -- would not be a “train smash”, but there would be a jobs capacity in some parts of the South African economy that would be affected.

“We sometimes do confront the reality that people at the level of [US} Congress won’t look at this line by line and our approach has always been to suggest that people look at this holistically. The existing trading relationship with the US, including Agoa, has supported a growing, diversified and relatively balanced trading relationship.

When negotiating any kind of trade agreement, South Africa does so as SACU.

“We don’t do it as South Africa on its own. Our argument would be that this is big differentiation between us and will undermine the coherence of SACU if there are to be suggestions that we have a supposedly a bigger and stronger economy. We have an economy that is characterised by high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality,” said Minister Davies.

Future of Agoa

At the summit, South Africa will be expecting to hear the US views on the future of Agoa, which is the decision of the US Congress.

Figures of bilateral trade between SA and the US have shown consistent growth. In 2009, the combined trade between the two countries was R88 billion and increased to R130 billion in 2013.

“It’s reasonably balanced. Our view is that this relationship has been underpinned by Agoa and therefore this is an arrangement that isn’t broken and doesn’t need fixing. It needs to be continued,” Minister Davies said.

There are about 600 US companies that are active in the South African market. On the question of labour unrest in the country, Minister Davies said he doesn’t think the issue will directly be dealt with in Agoa.

“In terms of investments and not just US investors but other investors, it is an issue that we have to talk to from time to time. Mostly in the manufacturing space that we are involved and where we look at value added activities, I haven’t seen a single investor that has said that because there is a labour situation in South Africa, we are withdrawing,” said the minister.

His comments come on the back of the five-month-long strike in the platinum sector. “That has not happened and instead, the pipeline has been increasing. We had one extraordinary strike in SA, in the platinum sector, [but] it doesn’t mean that when we have other strikes [they] are going to be five-month strikes. The government seeks to do what can be done to facilitate the conclusion of strikes. We are monitoring them,” he said.

The summit will include a Congressional Reception and a Business Forum culminating in the heads of state meeting. – SAnews.gov.za

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Port of Rotterdam – facing congestion charges

Dutch barge operator Contargo will levy a €15 (US$20.20) per box congestion surcharge for Rotterdam and Team Lines adds a 75 percent surcharge for the Port of Hamburg which is suffering similar delays, reports Shednet.

In June, Lloyd's List reported that Rotterdam was suffering from congestion while upgrades were being made at ECT's Delta Terminal as five new quay cranes were added.

Rotterdam's Contargo and Hamburg feeder operator Team Lines say that since mid-April there has been increasing dwell times of 50-90 hours, increasing by a third.

The surcharge will apply in August, Contargo said, adding that it would cover costs of unloading at other terminals, trucking, reduction of capacity of its fleet and chartering other vessels.

Team Lines said it is facing congestion at Hamburg's Container Terminal Burchardkai (CBT), forcing it to discharge containers at other local terminals.

In response, Hamburg terminal operator HHLA said it would create 50 jobs at CTB, following the 100 extra jobs it created at CTB and at Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) last year.

HHLA blamed the congestion on larger vessels resulting in more intensive peak periods.

"The constant increases in peak loads place serious operational demands on logistics companies and mean significant strain for the staff members," said personnel chief Heinz Brandt.

HHLA said 63 ocean-going vessels were handled at CTB with more than 3,000 movements per vessel in the first half of 2014, compared to 29 vessels in the first half of 2008.

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Advertising feature….. CMA CGM 

CHRISTOPHE COLOMB image 3 copyright Thi
CMA CGM’s Christophe Colomb container ship

Travel aboard the world’s largest containerships. Visit most continents, discover every sea. Share the daily life of seafarers, just as 874 passengers did in 2013

CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container shipping group, is one of the few shipping lines to offer a one-of-a-kind experience to journey across oceans, seas and continents on a Cargo cruise. With this unique means of transport, passengers can immerse themselves in life on board and discover the world of merchant shipping. Last year, 874 persons experienced another way of traveling by cruising on a containership. This summer only, there will be several hundred taking the opportunity of this one-of-a-kind vacation.

CMA CGM is now offering genuine cruises aboard its biggest vessels, the new 16,020 TEU containerships, such as the CMA CGM MARCO POLO or the CMA CGM ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT. These giants of the seas (365 metres long, which is equivalent to more than four soccer fields), are among the largest vessels of their kind in the world.

Each of the company’s containerships offer their passengers five cabins with private bathrooms and their own living-room. Passengers can also enjoy the large range of facilities provided on board, such as a theater for movie-fans, a library for readers, or a fitness room for those more energetic. During summer time, they will all have a chance to benefit from the outdoor swimming-pool. All meals are prepared by the Chef and his Maitre d’Hotel, and are shared with the crew. Passengers are invited to the Captain’s table, turning every meal into a sharing and an exchange opportunity with him and his crew.

In addition to its Europe/Asia routes where the company deploys its 16,020 TEUs containerships, CMA CGM Group offers trips on other maritime routes all over the world, on other containerships within the fleet.

Whatever the destination or the amount of time spent onboard, Cargo cruises offer a truly unique, authentic and memorable experience.

Enquiries should be made to mrs.abeaumont@cma-travellers-club.com or telephone +04 88 66 65 02 or fax +04 91 90 63 77

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In one of the great engineering achievements of our times, the 58,625gt MSC ARMONIA is to be literally cut in half for the insertion of a pre-built section that will considerably change and enhance the ship’s size, tonnage and onboard facilities. The astonishing procedure is not new and was first effected a number of years ago, reports Vernon Buxton.

One can only speculate that the lengthened MSC vessels will look ‘sleeker n’ sexier’ when they emerge from the French Fincantieri yards. Either way, it will be sheer engineering genius. How the ship finds its normal Plimsoll Line can perhaps be answered by a mathematician? Anyone care to write in about it? There’s so much more to a cruise liner than just the floating resort aspect.

The first MSC vessel to ‘get the chop’ is ARMONIA, and followed by LIRICA, SINFONIA and OPERA, “will add exciting new entertainment options, technological advancements, extended shops and up to nearly 200 new cabins per ship,” says Allan Foggitt of MSC Cruises SA. MSC ARMONIA and SINFONIA came to the fleet via the demise of Festival Cruises in 2004, whilst MSC LIRICA and OPERA were built for the company to a very similar design. As the picture shows, ARMONIA had only one deck of balcony cabins…a feature which had yet to ‘catch fire’ with ship designers, builders and operators.

The most notable recent example of ship lengthening was NCL’s NORWEGIAN CROWN, built in 1988 and lengthened in 2007-08 at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg. The work included the insertion of a 30-metre mid-section, built in conjunction with Schichau Seebeckwerft in Bremerhaven, and floated into Hamburg at the end of October 2007…emerging as BALMORAL for Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines. The reconstruction added further passenger and crew cabins…which resulted in an appealing and decidedly sleeker profile. BALMORAL remains the favourite cruise liner of this correspondent and your publisher, Terry Hutson.

The other two NCL ships that were lengthened were the French-built NORWEGIAN DREAM and NORWEGIAN WIND, which were both stretched by 45 metres in 1998 at the Lloyd Werft yards. The picture clearly reveals the monumental task confronting the ship yard…and the finished product was justifiably hailed as ‘… a masterpiece of modern maritime engineering’. One can truly only be amazed by it all.

In a multi-million Euro ‘Renaissance Programme’…

…the four smallest and oldest units in the fleet of MSC Cruises will be lengthened by 24 metres between August 2014 and November 2015 by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, adding 59 crew cabins and 193 passenger cabins…and increasing the maximum passenger capacity by almost 600.

Allan Foggitt told Ports & Ships that “these enhanced ships will boast a completely new spray park, with an exhilarating pathway of water features and water cannons. The impressive on board boutiques will be enhanced with new interiors, more space and an all-new perfumery with display corners dedicated to leading brands, such as Dior, Lancôme and Dolce & Gabbana.”

Only next year will South Africans experience a new-look Lirica-class vessel, when a lengthened MSC vessel comes out for the 2015/2016 cruise season. “And so, from 2015, guests will benefit from greater facilities and, in another first, bookings for the 2015/16 season on the new, bigger, longer MSC SINFONIA will actually open in September this year,” says Allan, then advising: “Cruise enthusiasts are urged to book early for the upcoming season to avoid disappointment and ensure availability. To launch the new season, a 40% discount reward is being offered as an incentive for those who wish to book early and secure their holiday at the best available price.”

MSC OPERA will be returning for the local 2014/15 season…”though she will not be in her lengthened state,” says Allan Foggitt, adding: “Indeed, OPERA will be the last of the four vessels to be extended.” MSC ARMONIA, LIRICA, OPERA and SINFONIA each have a gross tonnage of around 59,000, but the additional section will increase this to around 65,000gt.

Vernon Buxton for Ports & Ships

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Sea Shepherd Sam Simon PB 

Sea Shepherd’s Sam Simon

Sea Shepherd Australia, one of the most outspoken environmental activist groups that sees themselves as guardians of the world oceans, has been fined after spilling 500 litres of diesel fuel into the waters of Australia’s Cairns port in October 2012.

“This minor accident is something I am sure we will always be kicking ourselves over, as it goes against everything that we stand for and work tirelessly to protect,” said managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff Hansen.

On Friday the activist organisation, better known for going to war with Japanese whaler fleets, was fined A$15,000 by a Cairns magistrate, who said he was being lenient with the fine on account of the full admission made and remorse shown.

According to the evidence, the spill happened nine days after Sea Shepherd Australia had acquired the vessel SAM SIMON, a former Japanese whaling ship which is used now on anti- whaling campaigns. It was said that the ship had a faulty fuel pump switch and although the engineer had trained the crew to work around the problem until repairs could be undertaken, the procedures were not followed that day. – Sustainable Shipping


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by Gerhard Erasmus, tralac Associate

The initialling of the text of the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement last week* is a major event. It means there is a final text, which will become a binding agreement once all the parties have deposited their instruments of ratification. After many years of difficult negotiations a legally secure dispensation will in future regulate trade in goods between the EU and a selected number of SADC states.

Ratification can take some time but provisional application will allow for interim access into each other’s markets. This will neutralize the danger that exports from the BLNS countries would have lost their duty free quota free access into the EU after October this year; the deadline set by the European Commission for discontinuing unilateral preferential access of goods from these SADC states. South African exporters would have been saved by the bilateral Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) concluded between Pretoria and Brussels in 2000. The EPA will bring additional benefits for certain South African exporters; such as local wine producers. European geographical indications get increased protection in local markets. The TDCA has thus seen certain improvements.

Why did it take so long to negotiate this deal and what benefits will accrue? This EPA (a detailed document of some 750 pages, if all the annexes and tariff schedules are counted) brings about a reciprocal and WTO compatible Free Trade Agreement between the parties.

This provides for security and predictability and should allow local exporters to exploit the new opportunities offered by agreed lower tariffs and the objective to liberalize, over time, substantially all trade between them. (The EU will liberalise faster and more comprehensively.) The applicable rules of origin and standards have to be met, but there will be rules and structures to deal with these matters; including how to settle disputes. European exports to this part of the world will of course also benefit. For countries such as Namibia there are some specific advantages. Namibian beef and table grapes would have lost their preferences after October because the alternative (trade under the EC’s Generalised System of Preferences) excludes preferential treatment of these products.

These were complicated negotiations. Several stumbling blocks had to be overcome; while divergent needs (also among the SADC states involved) had to be accommodated. And the world has moved on since the first meetings started in 2004. The EC originally insisted on the inclusion of a “regional MFN clause”, which would have resulted in the automatic extension of MFN treatment to the EU regarding any better treatment offered in future trade agreements with third parties. This benefit will now be limited to new trade agreements with major economies (Brazil, China, India and the USA) only.

New South-South trading arrangements such as the Tripartite FTA and the proposed Continental FTA for Africa will not be affected. Quantitative restrictions on imports will be permissible as long as they are compatible with WTO obligations. Export taxes were a major concern of the SADC states; since their local industrialisation plans might be affected. It has been agreed to allow export taxes on a limited number of exports, for a period of 12 years and at predetermined rates.

Bilateral safeguard mechanisms will shield local producers from sudden inflows of larger quantities of EU goods; while the EU has agreed to eliminate subsidies on several exported goods. For agricultural goods a special safeguard has been adopted. A temporary safeguard mechanism was also created for sensitive products from the smaller economies in SACU. Namibia secured a transparent and predictable framework for the exports of fish products from its Exclusive Economic Zone.

The parties (SACU members, Mozambique and perhaps Angola) have agreed to continue negotiations with the EC on a more comprehensive deal covering trade in services, trade related matters such as competition, investment and possibly procurement. Europe is a very important destination for African exports and this agreement provides a foundation for further improvements, if the parties can muster the necessary political will. The Doha Development Round seems unlikely to bring about a new multilateral outcome; thus increasing the significance of this pact.

For SACU there will be a challenge to marry their common external tariff with the TDCA under this EPA and to address their own internal challenges. SADC will have to tend to important issues around intra-regional trade and deeper integration. The 15 SADC members will in future conduct trade with the EU under separate regimes, which poses challenges for their plans for deeper integration. Securing intra-African as well as global integration remains a difficult but unavoidable governance challenge. - tralac

* See related article SADC and EU conclude EPA negotiations - Use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.


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A nose wheel from what is thought to have been a military type aircraft, possibly a SAAF Impala jet trainer, was trawled at the 250 fathom mark off Durban this week. Another little mystery to come out of the sea. Any ideas anyone? Picture: Graeme Haldane


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Gateway port

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE - remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.


Pacific Heron DSC 2773 A 470
Pacific Heron DSC 2804 A 470
Pacific Heron DSC 2833 A 470

Another of Swire Pacific’s fleet to call at Cape Town has been the offshore supply vessel PACIFIC HERON (4,697-dwt, built 2013) on which Dormac Marine has carried out some upgrades in the engine room ahead of a new charter off Angola. Pacific Heron was built in Japan and apart from her distinctive bow shape, her outstanding feature is the 1,000 square metre deck size, as shown clearly in the centre picture. Pictures: Frank Vennard

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