Services and Activities (Annual Report 2017)


The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council was established to protect and promote the interests of its members and Hong Kong shippers in general. Particularly, they convene on matters relating to the transportation of merchandise by sea, land, and air.

The Council operates under the guidance of an Executive Committee made up of representatives from 16 major trade associations in Hong Kong and derives its broad-based representation and membership from these trade associations.


At a regional and local level, the focus of the Council is to :

      Ensure an open and competitive freight market environment

      Ensure that government policy and practices are geared towards the interests of shippers

      Ensure that proper infrastructure and facilities serve the present and future needs of shippers and logistics operators

      Ensure that carriers’ charges are reasonable, with sufficient transparency and justification, and proper governance

      Ensure that the Hong Kong shippers’ voice is represented locally, regionally, and internationally

The Council achieves these goals through :

1.       Engagement in the consultative mechanism of the HKSAR Government

The Council has representation in a number of major logistics and transport related government committees and advisory groups, including :

      The Logistics Development Council and its various sub-committees

      Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board and its various sub-committee

      The Sea Cargo Liaison Group, Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department

      The Logistics Industry Training Advisory Group, the Education Bureau and its various sub-committees

      The Tripartite Meeting for Logistics Industry, Labour & Manpower Bureau

      The Industry Consultative Network (Logistics), Employee Retraining Board

      Road Cargo System User Liaison Group

      Port Operations Committee

      Trade Single Window User Consultation Group

2.       Engagement in trade, industrial, and professional organisations and institutes

The Council closely co-operates with other related organisations and institutes.

The Council is represented on :

      The Shipping and Transport Committee, HKGCC

      The Logistics Service Advisory Committee, HKTDC

      The Hong Kong Maritime Forum (HKMF)

      Transport and Logistics Services Council, FHKI

      The Hong Kong Logistics Management Staff Association

      Hong Kong – Taiwan Business Co-operation Committee

Through active participation in these committees and advisory groups, the Council communicates local shippers’ needs and requirements to the authorities and other policy-makers. The Council also defends shippers’ interests in the governmental policy formulation process and its execution.

In 2017, the Council also actively participated in major government studies and engaged in ad hoc meetings concerning a number of related issues. The Council’s input is crucial to logistics-related research and surveys by the government to plot the future direction of Hong Kong.

The Council participated in discussion on :

      Belt and Road Initiatives

      Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area

      Introduction of Logistics 4.0 to Hong Kong

      Terminal Handling Charges (THCs)

      Shipping Surcharges

      Verification of Gross Mass (VGM) of laden containers

      Further Concentration in the Market

      New Groups of Carriers Merger and Acquisition in the Shipping Industry

      Objection to Shipping Liners’ Application of Block Exemption from Competition Ordinance

      Three-Runway System (3RS)

      Air Cargo Security Regime Reform

      Cross Border Efficiency Enhancement

      Development of Trade Single Window in Hong Kong

      2018 Policy Address and 2018/19 Budget Consultation

3.       Protecting shippers’ interests and protesting against shipping lines’ surcharges

The Council represents and defends shippers’ interests in dealing with carriers and service providers. The emphasis is on ensuring that shippers are able to negotiate freight rates in an open market environment and on a level-playing field with the carriers.

The Council monitors the marketplace to ensure sufficient competition exists, that charges and surcharges are justified with sufficient transparency, that proper payment mechanisms are in place that are convenient and cost-effective to shippers, and that service standards are set properly, reviewed, and upgraded regularly.

Locally and regionally, the most common points of contention that require constant monitoring are rates and related charges like documentation fees, peak season surcharges, bunker adjustment factors, currency adjustment factors, port congestion surcharges, war risk surcharges, terminal handling charges (THCs), equipment exchange charge, etc. The Council voiced its objections to these unreasonable charges and demanded that they be rescinded. The Council aims to involve the government as and when needed during its dealing with various carriers and freight forwarders.

4. International Cooperation

The Council maintains active participation in international shippers’ meetings to maintain good liaison and cooperation with shippers’ bodies overseas. The general aim is to promote closer ties, exchange views on issues of mutual concern, and make use of collective action against one-sided rate hikes by shipping conferences.

These forums serve as platforms on which the various economies in the Asia Pacific region can present and compare their shipping concerns. Through these forums, shippers are made aware of the developments and problems of the various countries and territories represented. They can also compare the progress of their endeavours and thereby help strengthen understanding.

Annual meetings provide the forum for discussion and the pooling of information relating to issues affecting each region. At the end of each meeting, a joint declaration is prepared and signed by all participating shippers, councils, and associations, containing an outline for the course of action planned for the next year on a national, regional, or global level. Through these shippers’ councils’ meetings, shippers around the world are developing more structured organisations to increase their influence.

Asian Shippers’ Alliance & Global Shippers’ Alliance Meeting, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 1-3, 2017

The Global Shippers’ Alliance (GSA) Meeting and the Asia Shippers’ Alliance (ASA) Meeting were held one after the other in Jakarta, Indonesia on March 1-3, 2017. The meetings were attended by the Indonesian National Shippers’ Council, Korean Shippers’ Council, Macau Shippers’ Association, Thai National Shippers’ Council, The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council and Shippers’ Council of Bangladesh.

The Asian Shippers’ Alliance (ASA) meeting discussed important issues including Economic and Trade Outlook, Investment in Infrastructure, Implementation of Verified Gross Mass Regimes, Bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, Freight Rates and Surcharges, Competition Legislation and Execution, as well as Tightening of Air Cargo Security Requirement. At the end of the meeting, a joint statement was signed.

The meeting held thorough discussions on global and regional economic and trade outlook. The meeting expressed concerns regarding growing protectionism and political uncertainties of major economies of the globe that might hamper trade.  Additionally, the meeting called for caution as well as suitable government assistance to the manufacturing, trading, and logistics sectors to mitigate the challenges.

The meeting discussed in length the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping in the last quarter of 2016.  It was noted that shippers suffered substantially from the incident. The meeting examined freight rates and surcharges in different markets.

Meeting with TNSC to follow up MOU, Bangkok, August 15-17, 2017

From August 15-17, 2017, the Executive Director met with the representatives of the Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) and the Macau Shippers’ Association (MSA) in Bangkok. The meeting agreed to enhance cooperation on trade promotion, knowledge exchange, cargo security regime, competition regulatory reform, green logistics, and logistics related technologies. The Council also witnessed signing of a MOU by TNSC and MSA.

GSF Annual Meeting, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, October 1-3, 2017

The 2017 GSF meeting was held at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain from October 1-3, 2017. The meeting covered several important topics including surcharges and THC, the liner shipping market, air cargo industry and maritime safety.

Arranging a High Level Italian Port Delegation to Visit Shenzhen on November 22, 2017

On November 22, 2017, the Council helped Invest HK arrange a one-day visit for a high level Italian Port Delegation. The itinerary included visits to the Shenzhen government’s ports and free trade zones. There were over 60 delegates from Italy in attendance.

This visit strengthened connections between the Italian port and Shenzhen representatives, and it created an opportunity for them to share their ideas and information. The responses received after the meeting were very encouraging and positive.

Visit of Xian Air City Delegation on December 7, 2017

The Council received a delegation from Air City, Xian on December 7, 2017. The request was from Hong Kong Air Cargo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Airlines with its headquarters in Xian. The Council also helped in lining up meetings with CMA Line for the delegation.

5.       Enhancing Hong Kong’s logistics industry and cementing its position as a leading logistics hub

The Council supports the government to promote Hong Kong’s port and strengthen the region’s role as a logistics hub within Asia. This is a crucial factor in helping Hong Kong traders succeed in an international arena.

To achieve this goal, the Council is actively participating in the Government’s promotional activities overseas.


Hong Kong Logistics Services Mission to Chongqing, May 8-10, 2017

From May 8-10, 2017, the Hong Kong Logistics Development Council and HKTDC jointly organised the Hong Kong Logistics Services Mission to Chongqing. The aim was to promote Hong Kong as a premier logistics hub in the region and study the development of the railway operations which linked up Mainland China and Europe. The Chairman and Executive Director also joined the all-important ‘Mission’ to Chongqing.

The three-day visit programme comprised calls on Chongqing government officials responsible for logistics development in Chongqing; visits to major logistics services facilities including the Western Logistics Park, the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway, Guoyuan Port and the Lianglu Cuntan Free Trade Port Area. Business-to-business matching for the Hong Kong industry representatives were arranged to explore collaboration opportunities with Chongqing logistics companies. A luncheon seminar was also organised, which was attended by about 180 participants, many of whom were senior executives from the logistics sectors. The Chairman was invited to be the guest speaker and he spoke about why rail logistics would become more attractive to shippers, as well as how Chongqing and Hong Kong logistics services providers could work together to get more business. The mission laid the groundwork for future partnership between Hong Kong and Chongqing.

Hong Kong Port and Maritime Board Visit to Shanghai and Beijing, December 4-8, 2017

The Council Chairman joined a Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board delegation to Shanghai and Beijing from December 4-8, 2017. The delegation comprised members of the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board and maritime industry representatives. The aim was to promote Hong Kong as an international maritime centre.

During the trip, the delegation met with a number of maritime-related government authorities and organisations, including the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission, the China Ports and Harbours Association, the Ministry of Transport, the China Banking Regulatory Commission etc, to learn more about latest maritime and port policies and directions for future development, as well as explore opportunities to enhance cooperation on manpower development.

The delegation promoted Hong Kong's status as an international maritime centre and reinforced our relationship with the Chinese shipping community through the networking luncheon and dinner, and meetings with various maritime-related organisations arranged during the five-day visit.


To help promote Hong Kong, in addition to its own activities, the Council entertains a lot of requests to make presentations locally and overseas.

HKU’s Regional and Territorial Planning Studio “Prospect and Direction for Hong Kong’s Logistics Future Development”, January 16, 2017

On January 16, 2017, the Executive Director of the Council made a presentation to a postgrad class of the University of Hong Kong. The topic was “Prospect and Direction for Hong Kong’s Logistics Future Development”; 60 students flocked to the seminar.

Speech for MSc. Students of Dept. of LGT, Hong Kong Poly U “Prospect and Direction for Hong Kong’s Logistics Future Development”, February 20, 2017

Shortly after, the Executive Director made a similar presentation to Poly U MSc on February 20, 2017, which drew in some 70 students.

10th Anniversary Celebration cum Seminar for the Logistics Industry Training Advisory Committee, March 6, 2017

The Council has been a long supporter of the Education and Manpower Bureau’s Qualification Framework. The Executive Director moderated a knowledge and experience session at the 10th Anniversary Celebration cum Seminar for the Logistics Industry Training Advisory Committee on March 6, 2017.

Presentation to Kazakhstan PhD Students on “Prospect and Direction for Hong Kong’s Logistics Future Development”, March 9, 2017

On March 9, 2017, the Executive Director was invited to express his views on the future development of Hong Kong logistics industry to PhD students from Kazakhstan studying at PolyU under a scholarship.  These students, who are fluent in Russian, Kazakh, and English, would certainly prove to be useful contacts in any Kazakhstan or Central Asia related events and projects in the future.

Prime Source Forum , March 13-14, 2017

The Council Chairman Mr Willy Lin gave an opening speech at the Prime Source Forum (PSF), which was held from March 13-14, 2017. The PSF is one of the most important events on global procurement and sourcing, and this year’s Forum was no exception. Over 100 senior trading executives from all over the world flocked to the event.

The Executive Director of the Council also acted as moderator for one of the sessions focusing on new manufacturing bases in developing areas and in particular, the continent of Africa.

Intermodal Asia 2017, Shanghai, China “The Shipper’s Perspective: Getting the Industry Back on Track”, March 21-23, 2017

Intermodal Asia 2017 was held at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center on March 21-23, 2017.  The Executive Director participated in the shippers’ session on March 22, 2017 and delivered a speech on “The Shipper’s Perspective: Getting the Industry Back on Track”.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Alumni Seminar on  “Hong Kong Logistics and Belt & Road”, April 8, 2017

On April 8, 2017, the Executive Director presented an update on “Hong Kong Logistics and Belt & Road” to over 500 Chinese University alumni in a seminar organised by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Logistics Engineering Talk for IMSE Department “Prospect and Direction for Hong Kong’s Logistics Future Development”, April 18, 2017

The Logistics Engineering Talk for IMSE Department was held on April 18, 2017. As a guest speaker, the Executive Director discussed about “Prospect and Direction for Hong Kong’s Logistics Future Development” in his address to 80 students in attendance.

The Shenzhen and Hong Kong Port Development and Security Seminar 2017 “The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area”, April 21, 2017

The Shenzhen and Hong Kong Port Development and Security Seminar 2017 was hosted by the Shenzhen Port Association on April 21. The Executive Director was invited to speak on “the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area” at the seminar.

Hong Kong Logistics Services Mission to Chongqing, May 8-10, 2017

The Chairman was invited to be the guest speaker during the Hong Kong Logistics Services Mission to Chongqing on May 9, 2017. He talked about why rail logistics would become more attractive to shippers and how Chongqing and Hong Kong logistics services providers could work together to drum up more business.

United Shipping Inc. Worldwide Meeting “Belt & Road”, May 16, 2017

On May 16, the Executive Director introduced the B&R Initiatives to over 120 shipping executives of United Shipping; 80% of them were from overseas.

KCC Elite Development for the New Century “Belt & Road”, July 18, 2017

The Executive Director was invited to be a guest speaker at a session “KCC Elite Development for the New Century” organised by the Chinese University of Hong Kong on July 18. He shared his insights on “Belt & Road” to a group of 80 university students from the Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

LSCM Summit, September 15, 2017

The LSCM Summit was held on September 15, 2017. The Hong Kong R&D Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Enabling Technologies (LSCM) invited the Council Executive Director to take part in a panel discussion on Hong Kong’s Opportunities in the B&R Initiatives. The summit’s theme was “Logistics Robotics and Technologies for Belt and Road Initiative” and attracted a 200-strong audience. The overall response was highly encouraging.

Hong Kong – ASEAN Summit 2017, September 19, 2017

The Hong Kong-ASEAN Summit 2017, organised by Metro Finance, was held on September 19.  Under the theme of "promoting cooperation and mutual benefits", the summit explored trade prospects between Hong Kong and the ASEAN region, the impact of the rise of trade protectionism in the US and Europe on the development of trade in Asia, new China business opportunities for China and Hong Kong enterprises, and innovative digital commerce business opportunities. The Council Executive Director was invited to participate in the panel discussion on “the differences in the development of emerging markets in Asia and the strategic deployment of the Belt and Road initiative”.

Visit to Fraunhofer “Opportunities and Challenges for Hong Kong Logistics Industry”, October 2017

The Chairman and the Executive Director joined a HKPC delegation to visit several institutes of Fraunhofer, Germany in October 2017. The Executive Director delivered a speech on “Opportunities and Challenges for Hong Kong Logistics Industry”.

The Council had applied for a SME Development Fund to introduce Logistics 4.0 to Hong Kong.  Fraunhofer is the standard setter for Industry 4.0 and Logistics 4.0 is an integral part of it. The Council aims at first establishing the maturity level for the Hong Kong logistics industry, and then developing an adoption blueprint. 

Seminar on “Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area : Zhuhai-Hong Kong Logistics Co-operation Initiative”, Oct 25, 2017

The seminar on “Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area : Zhuhai-Hong Kong Logistics Co-operation Initiative” was organised by the Zhuhai Government on October 25, 2017. The Executive Director briefed the audience on the challenges and opportunities that would be brought by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area development to the Hong Kong and Zhuhai logistics industry.

The 7th Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference - Air Freight Forum, November 23, 2017

The 7th Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (ALMC) was held from November 23-24, 2017 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Council Chairman presented at the airfreight forum which was jointly organised by the HKTDC and AAHK. The forum focused on impact from implementation of ICAO’s new air cargo security requirements (that are due to be implemented in July 2021) and its mitigation measures. He presented shippers’ concerns over the new air cargo security regime.

Taiwan-Hong Kong Logistics and Distribution Seminar “Taiwan - Hong Kong Cooperation over Smart Logistics”, December 4, 2017

On December 4, 2017, the Taiwan Coalition of Service Industries organised the “Taiwan-Hong Kong Logistics and Distribution Seminar”. The Executive Director delivered a speech titled “Taiwan - Hong Kong Cooperation over Smart Logistics” by drawing opportunities from the Hong Kong – ASEAN Free Trade Agreements, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area developments, Logistics 4.0 and booming e-commerce.

Greater Bay Area Symposium: Logistics and Trade Facilitation, December 7, 2017

The Greater Bay Area Symposium on Logistics and Trade Facilitation, jointly organised with the Policy Research Institute of Global Supply Chain of Hang Seng Management College and the Asian Institute of Supply Chains & Logistics of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), was held on December 7, 2017.  The symposium brought together more than 250 government officials, business leaders, industry experts, professionals, and academics to share insights and address concerns of integration and development prospects related to logistics and trading in the Greater Bay Area. The Executive Director was invited to participate in the symposium as a speaker to share his views.


The Council has organised a number of tailor-made training courses, seminars, and visits to ports, airports and logistics facilities for shippers and industry practitioners over the years. These tailor-made sessions allow shippers, industry practitioners, and the like to pick up industrial knowledge, learn about the latest developments and changes in the trade, and keep abreast of shipping opportunities and alternatives in the region.


Certificate in Shipping and Logistics Course

The Council jointly organised the Certificate in Shipping and Logistics Course with the HKU School Professional and Continuing Education (HKU Space). The programme ran for eight months between September 2017 and May 2018 to provide industry practitioners and new entrants with a comprehensive training programme on the basics of shipping and logistics operations. This also allowed them to build an academic progression path for practitioners to achieve higher academic and professional qualifications.

The programme covered 12 topics including carriage of goods by sea, air and land, cargo insurance, trade documentation, e-commerce and e-shipping, procurement and supply chain management, and logistics costing. The tours to Kwai Chung Container Terminal and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminal Ltd formed an integral part of the course curriculum.

Sea and Air Cargo DG Course

In lieu of the huge demand for the knowledge of dangerous goods (DG) shipments and batteries handling, the Council organised a series of DG courses for both sea and air cargo in 2017. The aim was to raise awareness on proper safety in cargo transport. The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code Training Program and IATA Dangerous Goods Practical Certificate Course were part of the programme series.

物流業的新科技應用研討會, March 28, 2017

Big Data analysis, intelligence, and automation innovative technologies continue to grow rapidly and traditional consumption patterns are constantly changing. With this in mind, the Council organised a seminar on "Application of New Technologies in Logistics Industry" (物流業的新科技應用研討會) on March 28, 2017. Through this seminar, we hope to see how the logistics industry can make use of new technologies to meet market changes so that enterprises can enhance their competitiveness advantage and open up new market.

E-commerce has also experienced explosive growth, so the Council hosted a series of seminars on this hot issue to update shippers on the latest development.

企業如何在微信開拓商機課程, June 20-21, 2017

The traditional consumption pattern has been changing in recent years. WeChat has become the most popular platform for reaching Chinese consumers and it has over one billion users worldwide. Therefore, the only obvious solution was for the Council to get involved with WeChat and get involved with this emerging market. In this regard, the Council organised the seminar on How can WeChat help your business/sales?”“企業如何在微信開拓商機課程” in June. The two-day course is designed to teach those who want to do e-business on WeChat.

如何踏出開拓國內網絡市場第一步, September 20, 2017

The workshop on “如何踏出開拓國內網絡市場第一步” was organised on September 20. The workshop is designed to provide participants a detailed guide of how to start e-business in Mainland by making use of the WeChat platform. The speaker shared his experience as well as briefed participants on the procedures and tools for such businesses.

中國營商撮要, October 13, 2017

On October 13, 2017, the Council organised a seminar on “中國營商撮要”.  We invited Mr. Carl Chan, Director of a world renowned commodity trading firm, to share with the participants his knowledge and experience on the procedures, requirements and areas to which special attention is needed when conducting commodity import and export businesses in Mainland China. The topics included Customs, ICQ practices, as well as other important commercial aspects regarding imports and exports in Mainland China.

Boost Business Opportunities through Technology in the Marine and Logistics Industry Seminar, November 21, 2017

The Hong Kong Maritime Week 2017 was jointly organised by the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, with a series of events held from November 19-26, 2017. The “Boost Business Opportunities through Technology in the Marine and Logistics Industry Seminar”, organised by the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council on November 21, 2017, was part of the Hong Kong Maritime Week event with a sponsorship from THB.

This half-day seminar focused on the latest technologies that are being adopted by the trading and logistics industry. There were presentations from experts and renowned industry leaders demonstrating the potentials and benefits of the latest technologies and how industry stakeholders could benefit from them. The seminar was attended by 100 participants, many of whom took part in active discussions throughout the duration of the event.

Port Value Chain Session, Asian Logistics & Maritime Conference (ALMC), November 23, 2017

On the first day of the Asian Logistics & Maritime Conference, the Council co-hosted with Hong Kong Trade Development Council a forum on “Ports and Shippers: Harbouring Smart Solutions”.

The Executive Director moderated the forum. The President of Genoa and Savona Port Authority made the opening speech. Speakers included representatives of Hutchison Ports, Yantian, Colombo International Container Terminals Ltd, and the Contship Italia Group.

Hong Kong Maritime Week 2017 Career Expo, November 25, 2017

The Council also joined another event of the Hong Kong Maritime Week 2017 - Career Expo on November 25, 2017. The Expo consisted of 15 shipping and tertiary educational organisation booths with HR and industry experts to encourage students with a focus on employment opportunities in the maritime sector. The Council is one of the participating organisations.


Huizhou Logistics Visit, March 30, 2017

The eastern region of Guangdong province has been a witness of rapid development in recent years. Therefore, the Council organised the “Huizhou Logistics Visit” on March 30, 2017 to let participants have a better understanding on the latest developments in the eastern region, especially Huizhou, as well as the related policies on freight forwarding and logistics. The itinerary included a tour to Huizhou International Container Terminals, Huizhou Dayawan Petrochemical Industry Park, Goodman Huiyang Industrial Park and, Prologis Huizhou Huiyang Logistics Centre. Through this visit, logistics and transport operators, freight forwarders, shippers and operators could grasp potential business opportunities.

Zhuhai Logistics Visit organised by HKSC and HAFFA, October 25, 2017

The Council, in collaboration with Hongkong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Ltd (HAFFA), have organised the logistics visit to Zhuhai on October 25, 2017.

The aim was to enhance the logistics cooperation between Hong Kong and Zhuhai counterparts and help participants get a better grasp of the potential business opportunities. The 65-member delegation visited Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge extension line industrial layout, and logistics facilities including Zhuhai Logistics Park and Zhuhai-HK-Macau Logistics Cooperation Park.

The delegation also participated in a seminar hosted by the Zhuhai Municipal Bureau of Commerce, where they were given an update on the relevant policies and the latest development of Zhuhai. The delegation received high-level reception from the Zhuhai government.

7.       Promulgating news and messages to shippers and the industry

The Council communicates to its members regularly via email, and its website We updated members regularly on the latest trade matters and freight rates, including shipping statistics, and regulations for the region, and new charges and surcharges. The bi-monthly publication Shippers Today features articles and reports on the latest developments in logistics, maritime, and aviation, as well as on the services provided and their providers.

The Council alerts shippers on developments in the industry, conducts research, and advises shippers of the findings. The Council also organises orientation visits to ports and other logistics and shipping facilities in Hong Kong and the Mainland, and holds seminars and conferences to share information and discuss current issues of significance.