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SRI Report: 91 UN Member States Have Cabotage Laws

Up to 80 percent of the world’s coastal United Nations member states have cabotage laws restricting foreign maritime activity in their domestic coastal trades, according to a report released by Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI), a centre researching maritime and seafarers’ law.

Based on legislation and advice from 140 countries, the SRI report, Cabotage Laws of the World, reveals that 91 countries have cabotage laws.

The report explores the nature and extent of cabotage laws around the world, describes the history of maritime cabotage and traces a number of early rudimentary legal principles. It sets out examples of the many different definitions of cabotage that exist today at the national, regional and international levels as well as examples of the restrictions of foreign activity and their waivers in domestic coastal trades.

SRI said that evidence-based decision making is highly dependent on accurate facts and the lack of an up-to-date comprehensive study has been a major impediment to thoughtful policy-making on the subject.

“The lack of accurate facts on cabotage laws around the world has been an impediment for policymakers considering implementing cabotage laws. This report represents a circuit breaker, providing policymakers with the relevant facts for proper decision-making,” ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair, David Heindel, said.

“We know there are a number of countries considering introducing, strengthening or diminishing cabotage regulation. This report will assure those governments that it makes sense to enforce national cabotage laws.”

SRI was commissioned by the International Transport Workers’ Federation to undertake the independent study.

Cabotage Laws of the World is based on legislation and advice received from professional law firms in 140 member states of the United Nations, many of whom are part of SRI’s independent network of lawyers worldwide.