The Baltic Exchange will be introducing a modernised code of conduct for shipowners, charterers and shipbrokers using the physical shipping and freight derivatives markets.

Following a detailed review of the current arrangements led by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright with oversight by the Baltic Exchange Council and the Baltic Membership Council, the New Baltic Code has been drafted to bring together a set of principles and business practices which will be applicable to not only Baltic Exchange members, but also the wider market. There is a greater focus on fairness & competition, anti-bribery & corruption and benchmarking related issues than before.

Explaining why the Baltic Exchange has updated its Code and detailing the new arrangements at Singapore Maritime Week, Baltic Exchange Chief Executive Mark Jackson said:

“Times have changed and Baltic Exchange members are operating in an environment with a greater focus than ever before on compliance. Shipping cannot expect to escape the heightened political and regulatory scrutiny that has been placed on the commodity markets since the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. By introducing this new code of conduct, we want to preserve confidence in and the integrity of the physical freight and freight derivatives markets; eliminate poor practices and raise standards across the entire market as well as increase the attractiveness of doing business with Baltic Exchange members.” 

The New Baltic Code will be binding on members of the Baltic Exchange and members will be expected to promote compliance amongst all market participants. Members of the Baltic Exchange will be expected to refrain from doing business with counterparties who deliberately refuse to adhere to the principles and good practice standards set out in the New Baltic Code.

The New Baltic Code is based on the following principles:

Principle 1 Integrity of Markets 
Market Participants shall act to uphold the integrity of the physical freight and freight derivative markets and avoid any action or omission that may adversely affect these markets or bring the Baltic Exchange and its membership into disrepute.

Principle 2 Fairness and Competition 
Market Participants shall treat their customers fairly, compete fairly and avoid anti-competitive agreements and practices.

Principle 3 Ethical Business Practice 
Market Participants shall do business in an ethical manner, eschew corrupt practices and comply at all times with applicable laws on money laundering, sanctions and tax evasion.

Principle 4 Good Market Conduct 
Market Participants shall comply with applicable laws in respect of their activities in the freight and freight derivative markets, maintain authorisations and permissions to undertake regulated activities and devote due skill, oversight and resources to these activities.

Principle 5 Accurate and Credible Benchmarks 
Members contributing data to the Baltic Exchange benchmarks shall comply at all times with applicable law and the Baltic Exchange Guide to Market Benchmarks. Market Participants using these products shall comply with applicable laws and terms and conditions under which the Baltic Exchange provides these products and at all times respect the rights of the Baltic Exchange in respect of these products.

The New Baltic Code contains detailed examples of good and bad practices and includes new sections covering competitive activity and ‘know your counterparty’ procedures.

The New Baltic Code is currently being reviewed by the Baltic Exchange Council and will be published later this year.