An association of ship owners operating in the same route who operate under collective conditions and agree on tariff rates. A group of carriers banding together for operating a service in common, between designated geographical areas voluntarily, for the purpose of limiting & regulating competition among themselves. A conference may establish uniform tariff / freight charges & terms & conditions of service. In United States water borne foreign commerce, establishment of a conference requires Federal Maritime Commission approval. Such a conference must be "open rather than closed". The ships used are of types suitable for the trade. Unlike tramp shipping wher erates are fixed on the basis of daily supply & demand, confernce rates are relatively stable. Base rates are altered by means of a general rate increase which may be once a year. Lines in a conference are governed by the rules of membership which may include rights to load or discharge at certain ports and pooling of cargo. Also referred to as a freight conference or a shipping conference or liner conference. Conference Terms Qualificationsto a freight rate signifies that it is subject to the standard terms & conditions of the particular liner conference. (C.T.)