Wednesday, July 23, 2008

FOB: Delivery term in international trade

Exporters of bulk cargo such as palm oil, oil and gas in resource-rich countries like Malaysia will typically receive purchase orders with a Free On Board (FOB) delivery term. These bulk goods are loaded onto large ships known as bulk carriers or tankers. Bulk carriers and tanker fleets flying the M'sian flag include those owned by the MISC, Tanjung Offshore, Global Carriers and Bumi Armada.

The M'sian legal framework on delivery terms for carriage of goods by sea is rather archaic. There may be valid governmental policy reasons for this laggard posture, namely, the liability risk protection of vessels flying the M'sian flag. The time may have arrived for M'sian policy makers to start examining and balancing the need to protect M'sian-registered vessels against the goal of making M'sian maritime companies more competitive in the international arena.

Furthermore, there are significant risk issues involving the relative liabilities of the shipping carriers, the insurer, the exporters and the overseas importer. Many companies tend to leave these matters in the hands of the lower management, supervisory and clerical staff when quarterly revews are probably necessary. These are tactical management issues to be considered.

This issue is a large one and, I am narrowing the discourse into a series of blog entries. This entry focuses on the FOB delivery term.

FOB: Delivery term
FOB is a standardized goods delivery term commonly used in international trade. The International Chamber of Commerce has standardized the definition of FOB through Incoterms.

The salient features of FOB sales under Incoterms 2000 are that, firstly, the seller merely delivers the goods to the ship. Secondly, the buyer is obliged to nominate the ship, if buyer fails to do so can nominate substitute ship within a reasonable time. And, thirdly, the risk for loss of or damage to goods passes from seller to buyer when goods cross ship’s rail (The Pyrene) or when loaded on board ship which deems delivery of goods by seller to carrier to be good delivery to buyer. Generally, neither party is obliged to arrange insurance.

Read more at the Logistics and Trade blog here.

No comments: