China - Pilot programme opening up coastal carriage to vessels of foreign Container Lines

Chongqing China

The UK Club's correspondents, Huatai Marine, report on an announcement by the country's Ministry of Transport on 13.12.2021 regarding a pilot programme to partially open up China's coastal trade.

Eligible foreign vessels, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region will be allowed to participate in the pilot programme which will involve vessels trading between Dalian Port, Tianjin Port, and Qingdao Port with the Yangshan Port Area of Shanghai Port serving as international transshipment port.

The pilot programme commenced on 18.11.2021 (the date the Reply of the State Council was published) and will end on 31.12.2024.

The announcement of 13.12.2021 set out detailed provisions for submitting applications to participate in the pilot programme. The following requirements must be complied with:

  1. The vessel must be an intercontinental ship operating on main routes;
  2. The allowed cargo must be container cargo carried under through bills of lading; and
  3. The principle of reciprocity must be met i.e. Chinese companies are to be accorded equivalent rights to participate in the coastal trade of the place of operation and control of the applicant liner company, and of the country/region where the vessel is registered.  

Please note that vessels which do not comply with the above requirements and which have not been issued with an Approval Letter by the MOT will continue to be prohibited to carry container cargo between Chinese ports.

Samples of the Application Form for participation in the programme, the Commitment Letter and the Approval Letter are appended to Huatai Marine's Circular No: PNI[2022]01 dated 19.01.2022. The English and Chinese versions of the Circular may be downloaded below.


Jacqueline Tan

Legal Services Manager