The Argentine Customs Authorities have issued a new resolution - General Resolution 3506 - which is already in force. At CJA we adhere closely to this new resolution for sound results of Solid Bulk Cargo and Draft Survey
Until publication of the new resolution, importers and exporters (as per Customs regulation No. 2914/94) had the benefit of deciding what method was to be employed to establish the weight of dry bulk cargo. This created a number of disputes arising from discrepancies between ship and shore figures upon completion of loading (dry or liquid cargoes) based on the shipper’s argument that shore scales are more accurate than the draft survey method, in addition to the fact that the weighting method was supervised by Customs officers. A similar problem also occurred at the time of off-loading fertilizers in bulk where the weight was also ascertained by shore scales not always close to the vessel and beyond the control of the sea carrier.
With this new resolution, the method for determining the weight or volume of bulk cargoes will now be decided by the Customs Authorities. Although it is believed that this new resolution may have been adopted with a view to controlling the grain trader exporters more than anything else, it could nonetheless reduce the present difficulties that the shipowners face at the time of loading dry/liquid cargoes in bulk or when off-loading fertilizers in bulk if and when Customs carry out their controls onboard the ship.
If Customs decide to check weights through the draft survey method in relation to dry cargoes or measurement of ship’s tanks for liquid cargoes then the Master should ensure that a proper document stating the quantities as per the survey carried out by Customs onboard is jointly signed by Customs and the ship and that a proper copy is kept onboard. This should help in case of disputes between shore and ship’s figures and allow loading documents to be remarked accordingly thereby protecting the carrier’s position.
Previous advice was that a draft survey should be carried out, if possible, jointly with the Customs at load ports and properly reflected in the ship’s documents, including sealing of hatches. With this new resolution it is thought that before arrival both Customs and shippers 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 instead of shore ones. This should assist to reduce present cases of shortages and Customs fines in relation to shortages of cargo, as well as the number of letters of undertaking which often need to be issue in favor of port agents in relation to Customs infringements