Global leaders from organisations representing seafarers, shipowners and other maritime employers signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines’s Department of Migrant Workers on Wednesday 11 January, to form the International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA), and ensure the welfare of its Filipino seafarers.

The key aims of the IACGMA include, contributing to the provision of appropriate training to the country’s seafarers, in compliance with the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention. The committee will also work to address concerns regarding ambulance chasing, and unfair labour practices, and on issues related to the employability of Filipino seafarers overseas.

The formation of the IACGMA follows a meeting that took place on 13 December 2022 where shipping industry leaders, met with President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr, as part of his foreign policy tour in Brussels. During the meeting, President Marcos recommended the establishment of a new advisory board to be made up of employers, shipowners and unions and the International Labour Organisation to give expert advice on major maritime issues affecting Filipino seafarers.

The IACGMA is composed of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Maritime Employers’ Council, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

“The Philippine government through its Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) welcomes the participation of well-respected industry associations and leaders from the global shipping industry in developing our roadmap to a just transition as well as boosting the global competitiveness of Filipino seafarers across the globe,” Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said during the signing ceremony of DMW with its international partners.

Sotiris Raptis, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations said: “ECSA welcomes the establishment of the IACGMA and is honoured to bring its expertise to this initiative. Filipino seafarers play a crucial role in EU shipping and in keeping European trade moving. By engaging in the International Advisory Committee together with our industry partners, ECSA strives to be a strategic partner to the Philippines and facilitate a productive dialogue with the EU institutions on matters of key importance such as seafarers’ qualifications, training, and certification”.