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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Pakistan offering guarantees for commodity cargoes

SINGAPORE, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Pakistan has urged insurance firms not tolevy war risk surcharges on cargoes as shipowners are increasinglyreluctant to charter vessels since the U.S. launched retaliatory strikeson Afghanistan, shipping industry officials said on Thursday.Many industry officials see India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as a "risktriangle" as the Taliban faced a fourth consecutive day of militarystrikes for sheltering Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect behind theSeptember 11 airplane attacks on the U.S."The reluctance of shipowners have increased after the retaliatory strikesbegan on Afghanistan," said one Karachi-based shipping industry official."More and more owners are insisting on higher war risk insurance cover."Shipbrokers in Karachi added that Pakistani government officials werecurrently in talks with some insurance firms, and were offering guaranteesfor their vessels."The government is trying its best to issue indemnity to insurancecompanies for not levying a war risk surcharge," said the shippingindustry official. "All efforts are being made. The government is tellingthem that their ships will be safe."Last week, three international shipping lines, Korean lines HyundaiMerchant Marine Co Ltd and Wanhai Line, together with Hong Kong-basedOrient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL) suspended operations to assess warrisk insurance charges.Shipping officials said on Wednesday they had decided to resume Pakistanoperations.Pakistani shipbrokers said Karachi port officials had recently called ameeting with trade officials to discuss the crisis arising out of themilitary offensive in its neighbour."We told them (port authorities) that we are facing this problem. They aretrying to issue a notice in newspapers that it is safe to come here," saidone shipbroker, adding that one U.S. ship coming to Pakistan was alsooffered escort.One Indian shipbroker added that shipowners were extremely cautious. "Nocontract cancellation has taken place but the impact is somewhat felt.Shipment costs to the Middle East have somewhat gone up."


The Indian broker added rice was currently being loaded at ports in Bombayfor shipment to Saudi Arabia."Some wheat, steel and soymeal are also in the pipeline for shipment tothe Middle East from India," the broker added.Pakistan shipping industry officials said one fertiliser vessel hadarrived from Australia and two or three more, carrying fertiliser fromMorocco and the United States, were on the high seas. A vessel from Mexicohad also arrived."Some shipments (coming to Pakistan) have been delayed. Some are onschedule. A few are delayed due to weather," said one Pakistan shipbroker."Two ships from the United States are expected to arrive by the third weekof October."On the commodity export front from Pakistan, traders said one ship wascurrently loading rice for shipment to Egypt.Grain traders said they hoped the response to the latest tender by theTrading Corporation of Pakistan to export 200,000 tonnes of wheat drewgood interest."We are just keeping our fingers crossed," said one wheat trader inKarachi. "Since most of the shipments out of this tender would be forshipments from December onwards, we hope there would be some interest, butyou never know."

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