THE International Maritime Centre (IMC) of Vancouver will conduct an information seminar for Hong Kong-based shipowners and ship operators at the Jade Ballroom of the Furama hotel today. IMC is a non-profit organisation supported by the Canadian federal and British Columbia provincial governments. It was instrumental in persuading the Canadian Government to change the regulatory regime for foreign-incorporated firms engaged in the operation of ships in international trade. International shipping groups are able to locate the management of their operations in Canada without exposure to Canadian tax on their worldwide income. At least 20 foreign firms have taken advantage of this policy and established operations in Canada. Among these are several from Hong Kong that have set up in Vancouver, including Valles Steamships, Fairmont Shipping and Northern Star Ship Management. Other Hong Kong companies were set to follow suit, industry sources said. Vancouver is increasingly viewed by the shipping industry as an ideal location for operations. Besides the favourable tax climate, the city has ancillary services such as finance, tax and maritime law professionals, developed transportation infrastructure, a suitable time zone for international communications and low costs for office space and personnel. Speakers include Garrett Lambert, commissioner for Canada; Jonathan Seymour, executive director, International Maritime Centre; Robert Schultz, manager, Business Immigration Branch, province of British Columbia; Douglas Eakin, tax partner, Ernst & Young, Vancouver; and Dickson Hall, director, British Columbia Trade Office, Hong Kong.