International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has warned owners that ships passing through the Panama Canal may face more than 30% higher costs under new Panama Canal Authority measures, and has called on the authority to postpone the introduction of a new charge.
According to ICS, The Panama Canal Authority has said it will impose a Freshwater Charge on ships passing through the canal from February 15. ICS calculates the move will increase costs to ships passing through the canal by up to 15%.
Additionally, ICS said the Panama Canal Authority 2020 Tolls Modification, which is due to become effective on April 1, could see additional cost increases of up to 17% for ships passing through the canal.
Ships passing through the canal could face price hikes of over 30% by April 1 if the new charges are combined.
“While we have worked with the Panama Canal Authority to manage the upcoming implementation of toll modification rise on April 1st, the introduction of the Freshwater Charges have taken the shipping industry by surprise,” said Guy Platten, secretary general of ICS.
“Shipping already operates on the slimmest of margins. Cost hikes in this range, without sufficient warning, places undue pressure on the industry at a sensitive time when we are being asked to invest in a low emissions future. We encourage the Panama Port Authority to consider postponing the introduction of the Freshwater Charge to give industry a chance to better prepare,” Platten added.
In 2019 the Panama Canal saw 13,785 transits, roughly equating to around 5% of global trade passing through the canal. The United states is the number one country crossing the canal for trade with China, Chile and Japan in second, third and fourth. Petroleum is the number one type of product transported through the canal.