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Co-operative Mechanism receives widespread commitment

Singapore: The Co-operative Mechanism, developed by the three littoral States (i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) in consultation with the IMO and various users has received strong support from the 252 participants from 50 countries and 17 maritime-related organisations present at its inaugural meeting. Five out of the six projects to proposed by the littoral states received committed responses from Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States of America.

One of the agreed-upon commitments will see China undertake the total costs for the replacement of navigational aids, such as lighthouses (pictured) damaged by the 2004 tsunami,  estimated to cost $2.5m. The Nippon Foundation has pledged money for one-third of the Aids to Navigation Fund. The UAE also pledged support but its representative said the specifics were being worked out. As per Article 43 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), all the contibutions are voluntary - a decision supported by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA).

Countries such as Bahamas, Cyprus, Germany, India, Norway, Panama, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom also spoke out during the meeting to give their explicit support in addition to non-government organisations such as the Nippon Foundation, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

BG(NS) Choi Shing Kwok, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Singapore, who chaired a press conference after the meeting closed, voiced members' hope that more European countries will volunteer their support as users of the Straits.

Up to now maintaining the Straits' has been left largely to the littoral states of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. However, with a 25% increase between 1994 and 2004 in in terms of number of ships and 59% increase in deadweight tonnes, there has been mounting pressure for users and user states to share the mounting responsibility. 90,000 vessels pass the Straits of Malacca and Singapore annually and about 11 million bbl/day of oil passes through the Straits.   [07/09/07]

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