International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) warns agents to respond to shippers’ requests in good time, or face the possibility of financial penalties.
The insurer cites a recent case where a container of frozen beef was being carried on a liner service from Australia to China. Seven days after the vessel had departed, the shipper noticed that it had failed to obtain the necessary health declaration from the Australian authorities. The shipper immediately contacted its agent and instructed them to return the container to Australia upon its arrival in China and without clearing Chinese customs.
Unfortunately, the ship agent failed to act immediately and when it did, the container was already in the hands of the Chinese authorities who had broken the seal. The container was returned to Australia. However, the broken seal led the Australian customs team to treat the container as a new import (as opposed to a return of goods) meaning it was fully inspected by the quarantine authorities and shipped back to China.