International Chamber of Shipping sends letter to the Panama Canal Authority rejecting proposed toll increases.
“Simply unacceptable” is the verdict given by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) in their damning letter to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The ICS has, on behalf of members, taken issue with the ACP’s action to increase the tolls of the Panama Canal.
In April, The ACP proposed to increase tolls by up to 15 percent, if given the approval at a public hearing at the end of the month. These new tolls would then go into effect as early as 1 July this year.
However, the ICS claim shipowners have voiced concerns that such an increase would be rushed, excessive and likely to cause further problems for the shipping companies, given the current economic climate.
Consequently, the ICS is now calling for the ACP’s plans to be withdrawn, and ask that in future at least six months of notice is given to enable shipping companies to fully prepare for toll increases.
“While the ACP proposal analyzes the impact of the toll rises on the competitiveness of commodity trades, no account is taken of the impact on shipping companies themselves… many of whom are still forced to run ships at a loss in order to remain in the market,” ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe said.
“We therefore request that the ACP rescind the current plans for increases in the next two years and concentrate on developing a toll structure that can be to the benefit of all parties to be introduced in late 2014.”
The letter from ICS also points out that, according to ACP 2011 annual report, Canal revenues are currently very healthy, and subsequently ICS claim there is no pressing need for the Panama Canal to raise tolls in the immediate future.
When the tolls were first announced last month, the ACP administrator, Alberto Aleman, said the proposed increases brings tolls closer to the value and quality advantages offered by the Panama Canal route, whilst still maintaining the competitiveness of the route.
“The ACP reaffirms its interest in maintaining a dialogue with the industry to enable us to structure a system of tolls according to the needs of our users which results in benefits for themselves and for Panama,” Aleman said.