The Japanese Shipowners’ Association voiced strong objections on Friday to the toll increases proposed by the Panama Canal Authority and urged it to withdraw the increases scheduled for this October and October 2013 in favor of further consultation with the industry.
The association said in comments to the canal authority released Friday that it considers the proposed tolls “disproportionate even when the cost of canal expansion is brought into the equation.”
The JSA said it understands that many comments by other parties expressed similar concerns to the ACP.
After issuing the proposal for the toll increases in April, the canal authority postponed the date for implementation of the first stage of proposed tolls from this month until October and reclassified the ship types in response to industry objections.
The JSA, however, called the revised proposal “very marginal.” It said the revised proposal “does very little to obviate the cost penalties to the shipping industry which will apply if the ACP plans are implemented in their present form.”
The JSA said the timing of toll increases would harm shipping companies that “were beset by operating losses of more than $6 billion last year.”
The JSA said it is “deeply disappointed with this outcome, because it does not respond in any shape or form to our previous requests.” It called on the canal authority to:
- Withdraw its proposal for toll increases in 2012 and 2013;
- Review the current consultation process in favor of a sufficient consultative dialogue that establishes toll adjustment guidelines that are stable, reasonable and transparent over an agreed longer and mutually-agreed upon period of time; and
- Place the pricing policy under “Proposals for the Expansion of the Panama Canal,” issued by the canal authority in 2006, back on the table for further consideration.
The JSA said the canal authority had already implemented sizeable toll increases in the five years from 2006 to 2011, including a 63.6 percent toll increase on container ships (10.4 percent per year), a 51 percent increase in tanker tolls (8.6 percent per year) and increases of 46.5 percent on dry bulk ships and 46.3 percent on car carriers, which both rose at a rate of 7.9 percent per year.