AUPA’s new tariff increase suspended

By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd

The Panama Chamber of Shipping has had a dispute with the Panamanian Food Safety Authority (Autoridad Panameña de Seguridad Alimentaria – AUPSA) since March 23, 2016 after this government entity announced an increase in its tariffs.

The AUPSA inspects transshipment cargo passing through the Panama Canal. Immediately after the announcement, the auxiliary maritime companies complained and AUPSA stopped the measure pending further consultation with those affected.

AUPSA's new tariff increase suspendedAUPSA and the Chamber of Shipping have now had a series of meetings to evaluate the increase in the tariffs and determine how it will affect Panama’s competitiveness in the food transshipment market if new prices are implemented.

According to the Chamber of Shipping, the new tariff will represent a sudden increase of up to 48% on the costs of food cargo transshipment on the Panama route from April 1, 2016.

Engineer Luis Benavides, AUPSA Administrator in Charge, said that currently the matter is being analyzed by this institution’s legal department and its manager, Meredith Perez, together with representatives of the Chamber of Shipping and the agricultural sector.

“We took their complaint very seriously and emitted another resolution delaying the implementation of the new tariffs until further notice,” said Benavides.

Since February, 2007, companies responsible for food cargo transshipment have had to receive an authorization – in less than 48 hours – from AUPSA, which will verifies the cargo origin and determines the sanitary risk it represents for the country. This law is complying with international guidelines.

The transport and transshipment of food can only be performed in port terminals that have been approved to carry out sanitary inspections. Additionally, the containers should have special labels detailing the type of product that is being transported (animal or vegetable.)

All containers that enter the country through port zones must be sealed and taped. They can only be opened by authorities of the origin and transit countries.

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