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Argentina: New rules for determining weight of dry and liquid bulk cargoes

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Advisory to Members

Update : Argentine Ports of Bahia Blanca and Necochea

The Association is grateful to Pandi Liquidadores S.R.L. for this further update.

There is apparently an exception in respect of the advices provided, that for the export of bulk cargoes, the weight / quantity of cargo laden (and to be entered on Cargo Documents) will be ascertained through joint survey carried out by the local Customs Office.

In respect of the Ports of Bahia Blanca and Necochea, the local practice appears to be that where a discrepancy between the Customs draft survey and Shore Scales is less than 0.6% of the total quantity said to be laden, then the Shippers would seek to obtain Cargo Documents based on Shore figures.

As a difference of up to 0.6% could mean a significant cargo shortage claim at the discharge Port, Members are advised to take note of the situation at these two Ports. It would be prudent to ensure that issues of responsibility for likely shortage claims arising from this situation are addressed in advance during the fixture negotiations.

The advice from the Association continues to be that Members / Masters should only issue cargo documents which they know or believe to accurately reflect the total quantity of cargo laden.

In case of difficulty or concern, Members should feel free to contact the Association at any time.

Masters should feel free to seek Correspondent assistance whenever that may be prudent or necessary.

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Prepared with the kind assistance of Pandi Liquidadores S.R.L., Argentina

Members are asked to take note of Resolution General No. 3506 issued by the Argentinian Customs Authorities which makes a significant change to the way that cargo weight will be determined (previously under Regulation 2914/94 it was the Importer / Exporter who could determine the measuring method). The new resolution is attached, along with a free translation into English prepared by the Association's local Correspondents.

As Members will no doubt be aware, frequent disputes arise over cargo quantity / weight when shore and ship measurements are at variance with each other. In Argentina these disputes affected both dry and liquid cargoes for export as well as fertilizer in bulk for import.

Going forward, the method to determine the weight or volume of the cargo will be decided by the Customs Authorities.

In relation to this our Correspondents make the following recommendations :

a) For loading dry or liquid cargoes in bulk for export

If Customs decide to check weights through a draft survey in relation to dry cargoes or measurement of ship's tanks for liquid cargoes then the Master should always ensure that an accurate record is kept of the attendance. Such record should state the quantities as per the survey carried out by Customs onboard, and should be jointly signed by Customs and the ship, with a copy kept onboard. It is hoped that this will lead to a reduction in the otherwise common ship / shore quantity disputes.

b) For off-loading of fertilizer in bulk for import

Our Correspondents have previously advised that a draft survey, if possible, should be carried out jointly with the appropriate authority at the load port(s) and be properly reflected in the ship's documents including the sealing of hatches. With this new resolution our Correspondents recommend that before arrival both Customs and Receivers should be invited to attend onboard upon arrival for the breaking of seals - where applicable - and for a joint draft survey for the weights to be established as per ship's figures. This would also assist in reducing the frequency and severity of ship / shore figure disputes and fines for Customs infringements.

Our Correspondents also would like to point out that in accordance with point 9.4 of prior Customs Resolution No. 2220/90 (modified by resolution 2914/94) the vessel can appoint a surveyor registered with the Coast Guard Authorities to be present during the draft survey or measurements of tanks. This Surveyor would be obliged to sign the Customs forms, with a right to insert remarks, when the survey is concluded. Absent such attendance it may be not be possible to challenge, at a later time, the measurements taken by Customs. Our Correspondents suggest that it would be a prudent loss prevention measure to ensure that a Surveyor is always appointed on ship's behalf when the quantities are going to be established by Customs. The local Shipping Agent should be able to advise in advance if and how Customs will attend to the vessel for cargo measuring purposes.

As the Customs' rules are new and it may take some time before new practices are routinely adopted across the board, Members are asked to contact the Association in case they experience any difficulty or unusual circumstances. In case of any urgent matters, the Master may wish to contact the Club's Correspondent directly for immediate assistance.