BIFA calls shipping lines’ fees unjustified and “blatant profiteering.”
A.P. Møller – Maersk announced it is implementing a bunker adjustment factor (BAF) surcharge on Jan. 1, a full year ahead of the global sulphur cap on marine emissions that enters into force in 2020, BIFA said.
BIFA said this could lead to prices for a 40-foot container on an Asia-to-North Europe route being hiked by anywhere from $480 to $840 — depending on fuel price — or by up to $683 from Asia to the U.S. West Coast.
“By any measure, these are very major increases and they will be received negatively by BIFA members’ customers,” said Robert Keen, BIFA director general.
“While the shipping operators may say that the new BAFs are needed to cover the cost of switching to low-sulphur fuels or fitting exhaust scrubbers, rises of this magnitude are unjustified and could be construed as blatant profiteering by shipping lines determined to exploit the situation.”
BIFA said it also would prefer any increases that are necessary to be consolidated within freight rates and with any required fluctuation being managed against that figure.
He added: “BIFA members are now faced with the task of explaining yet another surcharge to their customers and what the rationale behind it is. The sulphur surcharge is bound to be extremely unpopular,” Keen said. “Sometimes there is an unfair perception that our members are to blame.”
BIFA said this is only the latest in a series of surcharges imposed by the shipping lines, and it has long campaigned against them.
Earlier this year, container shipping companies announced they would be levying “emergency” bunker surcharges in response to rising fuel costs, BIFA said.
“Forwarders do not like shipping line surcharges. We have been challenging — and will continue to challenge — their legitimacy on behalf of our members and their customers,” Keen said.
He said past attempts by shipping lines to hike rates have included surcharges for equipment imbalance, peak season and currency, along with other fuel surcharges.
Keen said the number of surcharges and fees continues to grow and asserted that many of them come with no real explanation or justification.