Panama Canal to consider industry views on proposed toll charge hikes

THE Panama Canal Authority (ACP) says it will take into consideration the feedback it has received from the shipping industry, regarding its proposed amendments to the current toll structure

28 July 2019 - 19:00

THE Panama Canal Authority (ACP) says it will take into consideration the feedback it has received from the shipping industry, regarding its proposed amendments to the current toll structure.

'We will ensure that everything is carefully considered in the new toll structure,' ACP administrator Jorge Quijano was quoted as saying in a report by Colchester's Seatrade Maritime News.

The ACP received 29 letters, including responses from members of the shipping industry based in the UK, Japan and Panama, commenting on its proposed amendments to Panama Canal toll fees. ACP said the board of directors will hold another meeting to decide whether or not to modify the proposed new toll structure. A final proposal is likely to be ready in early to mid-September.

The proposed date for the implementation of the changes to the toll structure is January 1, 2020.

Both the Japanese Ship Association (JSA) and Wallenius Wilhelmsen have requested an extension to the implementation date of at least six months, on the grounds that the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) new low sulphur regulation will also become effective on January 1, 2020, doubling the financial burden on the industry.

'The rate of toll hikes (five to 15 per cent) which is very high, might endanger the future growth of the trade,' commented JSA that noted the incentives given should be shared by all the industry and not only enjoyed by a handful container shipping lines.

It also is of the opinion that the increased rate for bigger vessels such as neo-panamaxes, which are in general more environmentally-friendly, should be aligned with the one for smaller vessels (panamaxes).

The car carrier group Wallenius Wilhelmsen was concerned by the 'huge increase' for the neo-panamaxes of 15 per cent, far above the five per cent rate 'for our size panamax tonnage', making the cost of cubic metres 'far higher for vehicles carriers than other segments'. It proposed a hike for car carriers of eight per cent in 2020 for neo-panamaxes and five per cent for panamaxes over a two-year period of 2.5 per cent each year.

Specifically, the proposed tolls modifications include the following: for the containership segment, ACP wants to offer more attractive incentives for customers who benefit from the Panama Canal Loyalty Programme by adding new levels with rates in the capacity charge for shipping lines deploying between two million and three million TEU, and extra reductions for lines deploying an incremental over 3,000,000 TEU.

For the dry bulk segment, ACP has proposed that tolls charged to neo-panamax vessels carrying iron ore match the tolls assessed for grains and 'other dry bulk' cargoes. It also plans to adjust the tariff for neo-panamax dry bulkers transiting in ballast.

With regards to the vehicle carrier and ro-ro segment, the authority wants to create a new tariff category designed specifically for neo-panamax vessels. Additional modifications for this segment include slight changes in tolls tariffs for Panamax-sized vessels, as well as minor adjustments based on vessel size ranges.

As for tankers, chemical tankers, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, the toll structures would remain unchanged. However, toll adjustments have been proposed to more closely align with the value of the route.


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