Shipping Australia welcomes the news that the Panama Canal Authority has postponed the price hikes on canal transit fees that were due to come into effect on Thursday 15 April 2021.
The 77km-long Panama Canal is a vital waterway for world trade. There were 12,247 transits through the Canal in 2020 carrying 255,733,585 long tons of cargo (about 259,837,318 metric tonnes). Less than 6% of Australia’s container volumes (inbound and outbound) transit the Panama Canal; much of our containerised trade will originate from / be bound for the U.S. west coast ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, among others.
The International Chamber of Shipping and other shipowner groups had expressed concerns to the Panama Canal Authority over the speed of price rises. The international shipping groups argued that the 15 April start date was too soon for the maritime industry and canal users to be able to adjust.
The implementation date has been put back to early June, which will allow the maritime industry more time to prepare for the price rises.
ICS Secretary General Guy Platten commented, “we are reassured to see that [Panama Canal Authority] has responded to industry’s calls to postpone its proposed transit reservation price increases until 1 June, giving industry time to fully prepare for these changes. The increases represent a significant rise in cost, especially considering the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appreciate that the fee change is designed to adapt to changing supply and demand for the Panama Canal’s service and we look forward to establishing a productive dialogue with the ACP to develop a long-term pricing strategy to provide industry with predictability on transit cost. We hope to be able to hold a virtual meeting with the ACP to discuss and gain further clarity on these issues.”