IMEC was established more than fifty years ago by shipowners employing seafarers from the Indian subcontinent.
IMEC members helped establish the Indian National Maritime Board which regulates wages and conditions for seafarers from that country, and similar bodies in Pakistan and Bangladesh. For many years IMEC representatives participated in these negotiations.
More recently the interests and activities of IMEC members have expanded to cover a wider range of labour supplying countries and to the negotiation of international wage rates, as well as those applying to national flag.
IMEC membership has increased rapidly, with over 220 member organisations as of March 2016.