Freight News, Sea

Shippers vow to end surcharges by end of the decade

[ July 29, 2016   //   ]

The Global Shipper Forum (GSF) announced a plan to put a stop to shipping surcharges at its annual meeting in Colombo, in late July. It described them as “a source of intense frustration to their customers around the world.

GSF secretary general, Chris Welsh,  said: “GSF is looking to end the imposition of surcharges on shippers by 2020 through a series of actions that will expose the scale and injustice of the practice to world trade bodies and if necessary publicise the worst examples notified to us.”

GSF says that shipping lines and forwarders often threaten to not transport containers if their surcharges have not been paid, putting intolerable pressure on shippers to pay up.

Shippers also claim that surcharges are not related to the true costs of the service being provided and were poorly explained.

Surcharges of $250 per container, were claimed by GSF members on Asia-Europe trade routes. The cost can sometimes exceed the contracted price for shipments making the management of total shipping costs unpredictable for cargo owners.

Mr Welsh continued: “Our campaign will expose the extent of surcharging and make it an issue in future trading agreements.  At times of subdued economic growth this is damaging to world trade and causing distortions in local markets.

“GSF is determined to end these practices and restore visibility to shipping rates and confidence to shippers. It has set itself the goal of ridding world trade of surcharges by 2020.”

GSF plans to make the World Trade Organisation and UN bodies aware of the scale and impact of the practice and seek changes to make clear who is responsible for the settlement of costs currently recovered through surcharges. It will also name and shame the worst examples of opaque and unjustified surcharges.