Cargo alliance opposes requirement that all freight containers be certified “clean” of pests

The Cargo Integrity Group (CIG), an alliance of:

  • Container Owners Association (COA)
  • Global Shippers Forum (GSF)
  • International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA International)
  • TT Club
  • World Shipping Council (WSC)

has said that it was “opposed to a new global requirement that all freight containers and their cargoes must be certified clean as a condition for ship loading because there is no risk-based evidence to support such a monumental change. The compliance and enforcement costs of such measures would be disproportionate to the benefits obtained from mandatory certification of every container and its cargo”. The CIG estimated the additional costs to be in the order of $20bn a year, adding that “this burden would fall disproportionately on exporting countries”.

The CIG said that Spreading scarce resources across the totality of the approximately 230m containers moved internationally each year, not supported by science and proper risk assessments, would be unproductive and not accomplish the desired outcome.

The CIG asserted that “a requirement for mandatory certification of container cleanliness would not provide assurance against visible pest contamination as re-infestation could occur at subsequent points in the supply chain. Mandatory controls instituted at one point in the movement of goods would likely breed complacency and a presumption of compliance elsewhere in the supply chain.”

The CIG has called instead for risk-based measures to prevent pest contamination through international cargo movements.

The five partners] in the Cargo Integrity Group (CIG) said that they recognized the vital importance of focusing on the threat of invasive pests to natural resources across the world, and of the urgency in crafting risk reduction measures that would address the situation. 

Its “call to action” followed the intentions by pest control experts under the auspices of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to take “all-encompassing, internationally imposed steps to mitigate such risks”.

Lars Kjaer, Senior Vice President of the World Shipping Council (WSC), said that the CIG partners had concerns around these very broad proposals: “We know that more serious risks occur among certain types of goods and from identified regions. The CIG recommendation centres on the need to provide proper risk assessments in defined trades and focus mandatory measures on these high-risk areas and cargoes”, he said.

While the CIG said that “the serious issue of the transfer of invasive pests between different natural ecosystems is very much a part of this commitment”, it added that it was “also crucial that the development of any such controls is undertaken in full consultation with other appropriate bodies, in particular the international agencies responsible for the governance of world trade and for the regulation of different modes of transport, as well as supply chain stakeholders and industry practitioners”.

The five organisations co-operating in the Cargo integrity Group are:

The CIG said that, where mandatory measures were evidenced as justified, according to proper risk assessment, they should be limited to movements of specified types of goods between named countries and they should target specific pest species.

The partners in the Cargo Integrity Group said that they remained “committed to working with national and international agencies in pursuit of the shared goals of improved standards of packing of cargoes in cargo transport units and the avoidance of contamination by invasive pests”.