The Round Table of international shipping associations has protested against the third consecutive annual increases in Suez Canal tolls, saying carriers are ‚Äúdismayed‚Äù by steep hikes with a short notice period.
Having raised tolls by 3% in 2012 and 5% in 2013, the Suez Canal Authority announced in early February that transit fees would be increased by more than 4% for vessels larger than 20,000 dwt in the dry bulk and energy sectors from May.
In response, the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO, Intertanko and Intercargo have written to the SCA chairman, Vice-Admiral Mohab Mohamed Hussien Mameesh, to express their discomfort in having to pay more fees and bear higher expenses at a time of macroeconomic uncertainty.
‚ÄúThe shipping industry is once again dismayed both by the quantum of the increases, and by the SCA‚Äôs continued insistence on imposing a short notice period of only three months before toll increases are to be implemented,‚Äù ICS secretary-general Peter Hinchliffe wrote on behalf of the Round Table.
‚ÄúCircumstances for owners and operators using the Suez Canal for transit remain very challenging.
‚ÄúThe global economic crisis shows little sign of ending, with most commentators agreeing that no recovery will be seen in 2014 as demand continues to struggle in an oversupplied market.‚Äù
Mr Hinchliffe said ship operators ‚Äúhave no chance to plan ahead to share the cost increases with their customers‚Äù given just three months‚Äô notice.
Coupled with the challenge of piracy in the western Indian Ocean, the toll increases could drive more operators to take the ‚Äúlonger but safer‚Äù route around the Cape of Good Hope, Mr Hinchliffe said.
The ICS issued similar warnings when the SCA hiked fees last year, though the increases were maintained.