Exorbitant Charges By Liners Raise Clamor Among Australian Shippers

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  • Australian shippers cry foul over liners’ ‘exorbitant’ million-dollar charges.
  • Australia’s Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA) has accused container carriers of extorting huge prices.
  • Unfair charges have raised hues and cries.

Together with the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA), the FTA lodged a formal submission with the country’s Productivity Commission and supplied evidence that it claims shows traders are paying upwards of A$500m ($315m) in access, and A$500m in detention charges.

Exorbitant Charges

FTA director Paul Zalai said: “Members are operating with little competitive tension, costs are extraordinary; it is a massive blow for Australia and a windfall for foreign shipping lines…”. The FTA highlighted fees to carrier-contracted stevedores and empty container parks for access to facilities without any ability to influence service or price.

It also noted “unfair” container detention fees, still payable when delays to box returns occur out of the control of the exporter or importer, as well as rates and surcharges to shipping lines operating in consortia under exemptions from Australian competition law.

Mr Zalai said carriers had also benefited from “significantly reduced” quayside charges from their contracted stevedore providers, without passing the savings down the supply chain. “With less quayside revenue, stevedores and empty container parks have resorted to a ‘ransom model’, forcing transport operators to pay designated fees or be denied access to container collection/dispatch facilities,” he added.

What Lies Ahead

Although the Productivity Commission has shown itself to be supportive of the FTA’s position, it has limited power, and can only offer recommendations to the government. The FTA urged regulators to consider the imposition of limits on when, or the amount of, container detention fees that could be charged, suggesting carriers could be forced to sell boxes to the consignee after a set time, to end the detention period.

It also suggested that the government could introduce legislation to require stevedores to recover access and empty container park charges directly from the shipping lines.

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Source: TheLoadstar

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