Hong Kong shippers worry about security surcharges
The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council said today it is concerned over the prospect that shippers eventually will be asked to pay for port security charges levied by terminal operators from shipping lines in ports of mainland China and Hong Kong.
The council cited recent reports that an ongoing discussion between shipping lines and terminal operators “has not resolved the issue of a security charge” to be levied by terminal operators in the port of Shenzhen, in South China. The RMB50 ($6.04)-per-box surcharge would be levied both on imports and exports from March 1.
Hong Kong terminal operators have likewise informed their customers that, starting May 1, they will be charging a security charge of HK$50 ($6.41) for every TEU loaded, and HK$20 ($2.56) for intra-Asia boxes.
The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council believes that security should be part of the operations of terminals and shipping lines, and should not be lead to surcharges.
“For anyone in this transportation chain to be adding a ‘security charge’ is not justifiable,” said Willy Lin, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council.
He also asked for information on the costs that are covered by the proposed surcharges. “We would like to know how they have come to such a sum — per box, and for what specified length of time?” Lin added.
The South China terminal operators will reportedly raise HK$1 billion ($121 million) a year through their proposed rate.
Lin objected to the suggestion that shipping lines would be passing on the charge to the shippers. “It is totally unacceptable that shippers are asked to underwrite all new measures that should be in the basic service offering of a carrier to the customer, or of a terminal operator to the shipping line,” he said.
The dispute over security surcharges will add to long-running disagreements between the Hong Kong council and shipping lines on a variety of surcharges in container shipping.