Home » Customs & Trade, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » CCBI pushes creation of PH gov’t office to monitor foreign carriers’ charges

The Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) is recommending the creation of a government office that will monitor and enforce the transparency of sea freight charges levied by foreign shipping lines and freight forwarders.

CCBI requested the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to regulate sea freight costs in a recent letter to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The chamber said its goal is to “shield the importers and traders from unreasonable whimsical charges imposed by the shipping lines and freight forwarders and to promote transparency on the transport costs of sea carriage.

“As customs brokers, we are representing importers and traders in dealing with various private and government agencies and it is us who first become aware of the problems encountered in international trade facilitation.”

The chamber added, “It is the customs brokers who can feel the changes in various costs concerning those international trading and those costs are logically passed on to the ultimate consumers.”

It said customs brokers, through CCBI, have the social responsibility to bring the matter to government’s attention “to protect not only the importers and traders but the consumers as well.”

For years now, shipping line charges and surcharges have been the topic of numerous discussions among stakeholders. Earlier efforts to address concerns on local charges (eg, container cleaning, container deposit, etc) have gone nowhere.

The Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, for one, had a memorandum of agreement with the Association of International Shipping Lines, which represents foreign carriers operating in the country, to tackle the issue of the return of container deposits. With few carriers participating in the voluntary program, the agreement was not renewed after it expired.

In 2015, DTI eyed a review of the Maritime Industry Authority’s (Marina) mandate to regulate foreign shipping line charges. The review did not push through, partly because of the way the local shipping industry is overseen. Marina is an agency that is under the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and not the DTI. Seafreight forwarders are also under DTI, not DOTr although there are ongoing efforts to transfer the regulation and accreditation of seafreight forwarders to DOTr.

The Export Development Council-Networking Committee on Transportation and Logistics (EDC-NCTL) is currently studying the issue of local charges.

EDC-NCTL chairman Dr. Enrico Basilio, in a CCBI forum on June 6, said they had conducted meetings across the country to determine if foreign shipping line charges are a national concern, with a view to elevating this to the national government.

The result, he said, pointed to the concern as “something that is felt and experienced in the entire country.”

During the same forum, Basilio cited a decree issued by the Vietnam government in November 2016, which directs all foreign shipping lines calling the country to publish their fees and surcharges by July 1, 2017. The measure–designed to ease the burden of high and varied shipping fees imposed by shipping lines on Vietnam importers and exporters, and to promote competition–may be something the country should seriously look at, he said.

Basilio also noted reports of decline in shipping line charges in China after government conducted probes into terminal handling charges. – Roumina Pablo

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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