The Japanese Shipowners’ Association (JSA) has expressed concern over the proposed increase in tolls announced by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) early this year.
JSA stressed that the toll increases were disproportionate even when the cost of canal expansion is brought into the equation.
It understands that many comments by other parties expressed similar concerns to the ACP, which has revised its proposal for the classification of ship types, and delayed the introduction of the new toll regime by three months.
Although JSA appreciates this action, “it is very marginal and does very little to obviate the cost penalties to the shipping industry which will apply if the ACP plans are implemented in their present form, especially under the current circumstance where shipping companies are beset by operating losses during the adverse economic environment of 2011, that exceeded $6 billion,” the JSA says.
The JSA noted that the Panama Canal’s toll increases for 5 years from 2006 to 2011t already took sizable increase; for container vessels by 63.6% (10.4% per year), similarly, tanker tolls up by 51% (8.6% p.a.), where both dry bulk and car carriers tolls increased by 46.5 and 46.3% (7.9% per annum) with proposed increases in 2012 & 2013 to apply on top of those earlier increases.
“JSA is deeply disappointed with this outcome, because it does not respond in any shape or form to its previous requests which were that the Panama Canal Authority withdraw its proposal for toll increases in 2012 and 2013.
“The Panama Canal should review the current consultation process in favor of a sufficient consultative dialogue that establishes toll adjustment guidelines that are stable, reasonable and transparent over an agreed longer and mutually-agreed upon period of time,” a JSA press release says.
“Under the ‘Proposals for the Expansion of the Panama Canal,’ the canal expansion costs could be recovered within several years after the expansion work is complete, and our study indicates that it can be possible without such extensive and frequent toll increases”, said JSA.
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