Panama Canal tolls to go up

The cabinet council of the republic of Panama has approved the amended tolls structure recommended by the Panama Canal board of directors.

With this approval, the Panama Canal will assume a simplified structure, reducing the number of tariffs from 430 to fewer than 60. For shipowners, they will face a bigger bill for transiting the key waterway.

“The proposal aims to strengthen the tolls structure in a way that is consistent with the value provided by the Canal transit service while providing greater visibility and predictability to customers,” said Panama Canal administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales.

For transits of vessels in ballast condition for all market segments except for containerships, tolls will be calculated by applying 85% of the laden toll instead of the originally proposed 90%.

For containerships, the charge for empty containers will be reduced to $2 per teu in 2023, $4 per teu in 2024, and $6 per teu in 2025, instead of the $5, $6.50, and $8 that were initially proposed for each year, respectively.

All other tariffs will be implemented gradually from January 2023 to January 2025 at the originally proposed levels, including the proposed modifications to the loyalty program for containerships, which will be phased out by January 2025. Incentives for return voyages applicable to containerships and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels will be eliminated by January 2023 when the new structure comes into effect.

The Panamanian authorities, seeking to up revenues at a time when most shipping segments have been enjoying greater fortunes, mirrors what has happened in Egypt this year where the Suez Canal Authority has pushed through two swift toll hikes.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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