Freight News, Sea

Suez Crisis II: Shippers call for surcharge scepticism

[ March 30, 2021   //   ]

The Global Shippers Forum has called for line customers to show ‘surcharge scepticism’ as vessels get underway again following the Ever Given blockage in the Suez Canal.

Secretary general James Hookham said: “Shippers should be wary of new surcharges and additional costs attributed to the Canal closure. Many goods will be spoilt or unsaleable by the time they are delivered, and expectations of supplementary payments and surcharges by carriers for late delivery on top of the historically high rates already paid should be challenged.”

He warned that some lines are already predicting an increase in spot rates and surcharges due to the disruption. GSF is warning shippers to be wary of this signalling of future prices and of demands for new surcharges. He added: “This incident was not our fault and the reasons why customers should be expected to pay extra, on top of record shipping rates for goods delivered late and for reasons ultimately of the industry’s own making should be challenged.” The incident should not be an excuse to price-gouge customers, he said, adding: “Meanwhile, shippers will be preparing for the arrival of their delayed and diverted cargoes and for that they need prompt, comprehensive and frequently updated details about which vessels will be calling at what ports and on what dates. Some lines are excellent at doing this, others less so.”

Mr Hookham said that the vulnerability of the-critical trade artery had been revealed and the reasons why it was blocked should bne understood and shared. “In particular, was this a one-off accident or has it revealed inherent issues with the navigation of these very large vessels in confined waterways? The whole world will be affected by the closure and we are all owed an honest and convincing explanation.”