Home » Maritime » Carriers: Additional shipping costs preventable most times

INTERNATIONAL carriers are crying foul over repeated accusations by Philippine shippers, forwarders and the government that they are the ones always at fault for shipping cost increases.

The carriers complained they are seen, without fail, as the main culprit each time there is a tick in cost when many of the so-called additional charges could have been prevented if stakeholders only followed shipping line policies to the letter.

“The only regular fees shipping lines bill their clients are the terminal handling charge and the docs (documentation) fee; the others are penalties like demurrage and detention fees which could be prevented if shippers and forwarders comply with certain rules,” a Philippine official of an international ship agent told PortCalls.

“The recent additional fees like the container imbalance surcharge (CIS) being implemented by a number of carriers are fees to recover part of the additional financial burden brought about by the (global economic) crisis,” the official who requested anonymity said.

“This cost is just minimal compared to the cost that we continue to absorb particularly now that freight rates are almost 50% down from their (pre-crisis) level,” the official added.

At the height of the global crisis last year, international freight rates declined by as much as 75%, with a 20-foot container from Asia to Europe, for instance, costing $300 from the pre-crisis level of $1,000 and a 40-footer on the same route costing $450 from $2,500.

But recently, some international carriers in the Asia-Europe trade implemented an increase in rates, adding $300 to the cost of shipping a 20-footer and $600 for a 40-footer.

Despite the increases, rates are nowhere near their pre-crisis levels, justifying the minimal hike applied since February this year, according to the official.

The official also urged shippers to look at rates being applied by freight forwarders.

Based on a review by certain carriers, he said some forwarders are billing their shippers “unwarranted” charges.

Aside from the CIS, shippers and forwarders are complaining about the imposition of the container seal fee, detention charges on cancelled booking, container cleaning and washing charges, import cleaning charge, charges on lost equipment interchange report, additional bill of lading copies charge, seawaybill fee, late payment fee, telex release fee, late shipping instruction fee, amendment fee and container insurance charge.

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