A new Russian shipping law that is being seen as a de facto export bank on the Northern Sea Route for ships not sailing under Russian flag, has raised concern at Danish Shipping.
As such, the industry association has, in relation to an official meeting between Denmark and Russia, sent a series of questions to the Russian authorities in order to get clarification about the consequences of the new rules.
It's a regrettable signal to send to the world at a time when other nations are also starting to talk about protectionism"
"We've formulated some questions on the basis of the Russian export ban and have submitted these to the Russian authorities, and they've agreed to clarify this for us," Executive Director Jacob. K. Clasen tells ShippingWatch.
Reserving cargoes for Russian ships
According to Danish Shipping, the new law reserves cargoes from Russian waters along the Northern Sea Route for the Russian-flagged fleet. This includes oil and coal, but specifically which types of coal remains unclear for the Danish shipowners when looking at the legislation, Clasen tells ShippingWatch.
With the questions, the shipowners are looking to determine exactly which goods are covered by the law, where the boundaries of the Northern Sea Route are drawn, and what it will take for a foreign carrier to register vessels under Russian flag.
"We're going to look at the answers we get, and then discuss them with our European and international peers in the International Chamber of Shipping to determine what to do," says Clasen.
"This is not only a Danish matter, and what we typically do in cases like these is to bring the issue before the EU and note that there's an issue here that has a broad impact, and which we feel should be discussed with the country concerned."
The questions for the Russian Ministry of Transport were been submitted in relation to the Danish-Russian government meeting that took place in Moscow last week.
The Danish shipowners were part of a delegation together with Denmark's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen, which visited Russia to, at first, meet with Sergey Lavrov, the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Danish-Russian government meeting on economic cooperation took place on Wednesday, when Samuelsen met with Russia's Minister of Transport, Maxim Sokolov. The meeting was the first of its kind between Denmark and Russia since 2013.
Though the new legislation did not feature as an official topic on the meeting's agenda, Danish Shipping used the occasion and the meetings of the so-called transport work group – part of the body – to address the matter.
The Danish shipowners are concerned about the law, which is scheduled to come into force at the coming turn of the year.
"It's a regrettable signal to send to the world at a time when other nations are also starting to talk about protectionism. Every time you see something that's not just talk, but real action, it's worrisome, as it can inspire others to introduce similar initiatives," Clasen tells ShippingWatch:
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"For instance, Indonesia has proposed that certain goods be reserved for Indonesian-flagged vessels. And we'd be very sorry to see this trend spread to other places."
English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch