The maritime sector is therefore of huge economic importance for the whole of Germany, not just the coastal regions. With regard to beneficial ownership (ownership of ships and economic benefit of ships), Germany is in fourth place in the international ranking for maritime traffic, after China, Japan and Greece and ahead of Singapore and the United States. The ports on the Baltic Sea and in particular the North Sea play an important role internationally and within Europe.
The Federal Foreign Office works with other Federal Ministries to actively represent Germany’s interests in international bodies when it comes to important maritime issues such as security, defence against threats and environmental protection in the maritime sector. In addition to multilateral conventions, the Federal Republic of Germany has concluded numerous bilateral maritime agreements with partners throughout the world, and others are in the pipeline. The Federal Foreign Office and its missions abroad actively support the interests of German shipping.
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
As a longstanding member of the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the highest decision‑making body in this organisation, the Federal Republic of Germany is closely involved in the further development of high international standards for maritime traffic. The IMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations with 171 full Member States and 3 Associate Members. The IMO’s key objectives are safety, environmental protection and prevention of terrorism and piracy. Major IMO agreements include MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) and SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) with the related ISPS Code (International Ship and Port Facility Security Code) intended to counter dangers, as well as many other multilateral agreements.