THE Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) is trying to attract more members from Asia, according to president Lua Cheng Eng. Mr Lua, after addressing the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association (HKSOA) on Friday, said Asian companies accounted for more than 20 per cent of BIMCO's 2,600 members in more than 100 countries. ''We would like to see this percentage rise to about 40,'' he said. Mr Lua, who is also the chief executive of Singapore's Neptune Orient Line, is the first Asian president of BIMCO. He is also the first BIMCO president to address the association, as part of his Asian tour to enhance the council's image and awareness. Denmark-based BIMCO has 45 members in Hong Kong. Mr Lua said he would like to see this number more than double to truly reflect the large tonnage controlled by Hong Kong shipowners. HKSOA members own or manage 1,249 ships for a total of 33.9 million tonnes. The fleet controlled by BIMCO members is about 375 million tonnes, the highest in the council's history, and makes up more than half of the world's commercial trading fleet. About 950 of its members are shipowners or managers and more than 1,500 are brokers and agents. Protection and Indemnity (P & I) clubs are also members, and Mr Lua said BIMCO was open to associate membership of individuals and companies with an interest in shipping. They include classification societies, maritime lawyers, banks and industries connected with shipping. Explaining the services provided by the organisation, Mr Lua said BIMCO responded to more than 1,200 enquiries a year from its members. In addition, its on-line data banks respond to about 5,000 enquiries, with the number increasing rapidly. Mr Lua said members looked to BIMCO for various services. They expect to be able to consult BIMCO and receive prompt assistance to solve commercial problems, and to receive advice on legal matters. Bimco also handled requests for advice on technical issues. Members expected to be kept up to date on specific issues and to be informed in general about matters concerning the industry, he said. ''A BIMCO member has the opportunity to use his influence and perhaps participate in the development of shipping documents, for which BIMCO is the acknowledged leader,'' he said. BIMCO's services division is staffed with experienced people who are able to give advice quickly, in most cases within 24 hours, as long as the member explains the position clearly. He said an owner in the initial stages of a dispute with his charterer could get advice from BIMCO faster than he could from his lawyer or his P & I Club. ''BIMCO has accumulated a wealth of information and is able to compare a member's problems with similar previous cases,'' Mr Lua said. ''On average, BIMCO's intervention contributes to our members collecting some US$5 million annually,'' he said.