Panama, the world’s largest ship registry says it has begun the accession process for the Ballast Water Management (BWM) and the Hong Kong Conventions.
Once Panama’s Foreign Ministry submits approval of the two international treaties to the Cabinet Council, they will be presented to Panama National Assembly for their final approval.
This whole process is lengthy and takes about two or three months before the law is enacted and promulgated in Panama’s Official Gazette.
“In the case of the BWM Convention we are preparing the accession process whenever the possibility it comes into force in November this year, due to its latest ratifications at the IMO and we are starting the process of implementation of internal regulations to comply with the Convention. With Panama's formal accession to the Convention, once completed all internal processing, this will definitely enter into force internationally after 12 months, likely in 2017, depending on what is determined by the IMO,” said the head of Panama Ship Registry, Fernando Solorzano.
“As for the Hong Kong Convention (ship recycling), we prefer to be prepared and believe that this international instrument should be approved by Panama in order for timely adopting the implementing rules and regulations that have to be fulfilled under this Convention,” he added.
Panama has been approached by Japanese shipowners who are interested in using recycling facilities in Asia, in particular India, where they will need to carry out certification controls to be prepared with a future entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention. Japan is Panama’s Ship Registry largest user.
Although Panama’s accession of the Ship Recycling Convention is not indispensable for its entry into force it will nevertheless, “represent a big boost for the instrument and proper implementation at international level, if we look at the regional actions taken by the European Union,” explained Solorzano.
“The [shipping] industry needs some certainty of the entry into force of the BWM Convention, because of the high costs it includes as vessels require several-million dollars adaptations and modifications. After the ratification by Indonesia, Panama is now ready to offer such assurance,” he said.
The IMO has addressed the main aspects necessary for its proper implementation or are in the final phase. The remaining issues are outside the scope of the organisation which are due to unilateral actions, or lack of them, from the United States. It is expected that by the end of January the IMO will provide information on whether the BWM Convention will come into force on 24 November 2016 or not.