The international trade association that represents the world’s freight forwarders and logistics service providers, FIATA, has called on container shipping lines to provide greater clarity on the ever increasing variety of surcharges that they apply.
Robert Keen, chairman of FIATA’s Multimodal Transport Institute, said in a statement that forwarders were accustomed to currency and fuel surcharges, but needed more transparency for many of the other surcharges, “often with questionable names and purposes”, that are levied on freight forwarders.
“In the past, we have seen administration fees, peak season surcharges, or ISPS-add on surcharges,” Keen said. “Of late, we have had examples of container cleaning fees and container sealing fees, without any evidence of the expense actually being incurred.”
It is a recurring complaint among forwarders and shippers that have long accused the carriers of using surcharges as revenue streams rather than the cost recovery mechanisms for which they are purportedly imposed.
“It is time for freight forwarders to stop accepting at face value opaque and unjustified surcharges,” said Keen, who is also director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA).
Keen highlighted the congestion that is currently plaguing many ports around the world.
“There have also been recent examples of port congestion surcharges caused by labour unrest; and haulage surcharges resulting from HGV driver shortages, which is difficult to understand as there is no explanation and little justification for an additional charge for a service that the container line is finding difficult to provide,” he said.
The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council has also taken a dim view of the surcharges being levied on shippers using the Kwai Chung container terminals. Willy Lin, chairman of the council, said the port congestion surcharge introduced by shipping lines in the intra-Asia trade on October 19 was “unacceptable and unjustifiable.” Sources: Lloyds and JOC