American Shipper

Panama Canal pricing increases approved

Panama Canal pricing increases approved

The Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama Wednesday approved a proposal to restructure the Panama Canal’s pricing system and certain regulations.

   The action followed a recommendation from the board of directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). In general, the ACP said it would be a 10 percent increase per year over the next three years.

      The Panama Canal has become the conduit for Asian goods reaching the New York-New Jersey area. New York is served by 16 strings from the Far East, representing 21 carriers. China was the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's largest trading partner, accounting for 23 percent of general cargo last year, while Japan was the sixth-largest, with 4.4 percent.

   “With the new pricing system, the canal is charging its customers a price closer to the value of services provided,' said Alberto Aleman Zubieta, ACP administrator and chief executive officer. 'We reached this decision through an open and transparent process, providing the industry with multiple opportunities to comment. The new system ' reflects this open dialogue, incorporating several of the requests we received from the industry over the past few months.”

   The plan is for further increases beyond the increase to $54 from $49 per filled TEU, approved in 2005 and effective May 1, 2007, for containerships and other vessels with on-deck container carrying capacity. The new price for empty containers will be $43.20, up from $39.20, also effective May 1.

   Under the new tariff, the price for filled containers will increase to $63 in May 2008, and to $72 in May 2009. The price for empties will rise to $50.40 and $57.70, respectively.

   For other cargo types, adjustment and implementation dates of the new toll rates will depend on the vessel type.

   On April 5, in response to industry requests, the proposal was slightly modified. Implementation of the new charges, for certain segments — general cargo, dry bulk, tankers and vehicle carriers — was postponed from May 2007 to July 1. Refrigerated cargo and passenger vessels will maintain the implementation date of Oct. 1.