The government of Panama on Tuesday approved the two-stage toll increases proposed by the Panama Canal Authority.
As originally proposed, the first of the two toll increases was supposed to take effect on July 1 of this year, but was postponed until Oct. 1. The second toll hike would come into play on Oct. 1, 2013. This year’s increase was delayed so the authority could consider input from stakeholders, including the shipping lines that will have to pay the increases.
“The new tolls structure was conceived in accordance with the commercial value that the route offers its users. We look forward to working alongside the industry to continue offering a reliable and competitive service,” said Alberta Aleman Zubieta, Panama Canal Authority administrator/CEO.
The proposed toll increases affect most shipping sectors. However container ships were excluded to make sure the canal remains competitive with alternate routes from Asia to the U.S. East Coast, such as the Suez Canal and the intermodal land bridge from West Coast ports, according to Jorge Quijano, the engineer in charge of the canal’s $5.25 billion expansion project. Quijano will take over the helm of the canal authority after Aleman Zubieta retires on Sept. 2.
“The new structure offers price stability to the Panama Canal clients during the next two years, while the approved tolls remain below the value it offers as a safe, reliable and efficient route,” Aleman said.
The new toll structure increases the number of segments from eight to 10. It also breaks down the tanker segment into three distinct segments and incorporates the roll-on, roll-off vessels into the vehicle carrier segment.
The Panama Canal market segmentation structure includes the following: (1) full container, (2) reefer, (3) dry bulk, (4) passenger, (5) vehicle carrier and ro-ro, (6) tanker, (7) chemical tanker, (8) LPG, (9) general cargo and (10) others. The container/breakbulk segment, which was included in the original proposal, has been eliminated.
The Panama Canal Authority will increase the tolls for the following segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro, and others.
The remaining segments will not be adjusted at this time, nor will the price per TEU change for containers carried onboard a vessel.
In addition, there will be changes to tolls applicable to small vessels based on vessel length, to incorporate adjustments not previously considered.