Collective Action in Suez Canal

9 December 2017

According to the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), approximately ten percent of all global seaborne trade currently moves through the Suez Canal, and with the expansion of the Canal, trade volumes will likely increase. However, the Suez Canal has also been a consistent hot-spot for corruption, with Captains and crew facing regular demands for “facilitation payments” for passage or for routine services. As cigarettes are the most frequent form of demand, the Suez Canal has been referred to as the “Marlboro Canal” in media.

To tackle this challenge, the MACN group, of which Höegh Autoliners is a member of, started a campaign in December 2015, called the “Say No” campaign, for Captains passing through the Suez Canal.

Maria Hempel, Chief Compliance Officer, Höegh Autoliners says,

The Captains were given training and firm support from the shipowners to enable them to say no to the request of facilitations payments, even if it would cost the Company more in terms of lost time due to delays.

In addition, the group worked with port authorities, customs officials and government representatives to develop long-term solutions to corruption in ports.

Following positive results from the pilot, MACN agreed to make the collective action a permanent campaign.

Since the launch in 2015, MACN has assessed the impact of the campaign by surveying members and by collecting incident data. The situation has improved every year, and feedback in 2017 shows that companies taking part in the campaign are transiting Suez without any delays or issues. Demands for cigarettes have decreased dramatically or have even been eliminated, while threats to the safety of both crew and vessel have also decreased significantly.

Maria continues,

With the success of this campaign, we see that our vessels sailing the Suez Canal have had smoother transits. With the assistance of our agents, and support from the Company, the Captains find it easier to refuse demands and avoid situations of duress and threats on board.

For more information on the initiatives by MACN, please visit the website: