Freight News, Sea

BIFA backs call to end shipping surcharges

[ August 6, 2016   //   ]

BIFA says its is backing a call by the Global Sjhippers’ forum to end seafreightsurcharges. “Forwarders do not like shipping line surcharges and we have been challenging their legitimacy on behalf of our members – and their customers – for many years,” explained director general, Robert Keen.
Forwarders do all they can to minimise the effects of the surcharges but in the end at least some of the costs need to be passed on to the customers “and there is sometimes an unfair perception that our members are to blame,” he adds.
Mr Keen is also chairman of FIATA’s Multimodal Transport Institute which has been focusing on surcharges for several years. He said: “Our members have become used to shipping lines adding peak season, fuel and currency surcharges, but the number of surcharges and fees continues to grow – often with no real explanation or justification. For instance, what does an extra ‘administration fee’ or ‘container  sealing fee’ cover that is not in the standard service offered?”
Shippers can also be asked to pay surcharges when there is port congestion caused by labour unrest or bad weather, or haulage surcharges when there is a shortage of HGV drivers.  “Why are our members – and ultimately their customers, the shippers – being asked to pay extra for services which the port should provide as part of the contract?” he asked.
“If a shipper enters a contract to buy goods they should know exactly what they are paying and that price should not change. If they use Incoterms they can buy ex works or FOB and control the supply chain. If they let their supplier arrange shipping, they have no control over the charges applied. But in either case, additional surcharges imposed by shipping lines should not be allowed.
Later, GSF added that new container weighing rules are being exploited by some shipping lines, forwarders and terminal operators to levy unwarranted additional charges on shippers. One member reported a $25 surcharge being imposed by one terminal in East Asia for just accepting a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declaration.

It pointed out that the requirement for shippers to make accurate weight declarations is not new and shipping lines have long been required to know the gross weight of containers being loaded on board a ship to ensure that ship is safely stowed and remains stable. GSF says there is no justification for the fees being charged for this supposedly new information, unless the carrier, forwarder or terminal is legitimately providing a third-party service for example in physically weighing the container.

Chris Welsh said: “Global shippers are angry at the way the new SOLAS requirement is being implemented by some carriers, forwarders and terminals around the world.

“The shipping industry campaigned vigorously for the introduction of this new requirement on safety grounds. it is therefore regrettable that many in the maritime supply chain, including some carriers, are using the opportunity of the new rules to levy unjustified and arbitrary surcharges on shippers. As part of GSF’s campaign to rid world trade of Surcharges by 2020 this practice has got to stop now.”

Chris Welsh continued: “It is simply not acceptable that shippers’ well-meaning efforts to comply with an important safety regulation is leading to demands for new payments far in excess of the costs of processing that information. It does the shipping industry’s reputation for safety poor service for safety-conscious shippers to be exploited in this way.

“The wider shipping community including carriers, forwarders and terminals needs to remember that SOLAS stands for Safety of Life at Sea, not Serial Opportunities for Levying Additional Surcharges”.


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