Shipper complaints grow on TSA charge
Asian shipper representatives are none-too-happy with the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement's drive to effectively renegotiate the terms of annual contracts on shipments from Asia to North America, as American Shipper reported Monday.
The Asian Shippers' Council and key figures within the China and Hong Kong councils spoke up late last week over TSA's attempts to secure a $320- to $505-per-TEU emergency revenue charge, saying the 'weight of this surcharge will fall on small and medium-sized shippers who can least afford it, as major shippers will not pay as they know their rights and they have the capacity to enforce them.'
TSA is a discussion group of 15 major container lines engaged in trade from Asia to North America.
On Monday, an Indian voice within the ASC hierarchy bolstered the complaints against the emergency charge, saying it could well violate India's new competition law.
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'Although this is claimed to be a policy guideline, three members of the TSA in India — APL, Hanjin and CMA CGM ' have announced a uniform rate of (emergency revenue charge),' said R. Venkatesh, vice president of the West India Shippers Association. 'Even though the TSA is described as a discussion group and the ERC is a voluntary guideline, all 15 members have gone along with its recommendation on the ERC.
'As far as India is concerned, this is a fit case for investigation by the Competition Commission of India since the announcement by more than one line announcing the same quantum of ERC is tantamount to cartelistic behavior.'
Venkatesh also pointed to comments from Hong Kong Shippers Council Chairman Sunny Ho, who said the lines ought not to claim financial hardship when they are forecasting fourth quarter 2009 profits, 'besides the fact that most of these shipping lines have accumulated huge surplus out of the profits made during the years prior to 2008,' he added.
Venkatesh finally added that it is becoming apparent that carriers are attempting to redress some of their losses on base rates by adding surcharges, the majority of which are charged to exporters at destination. ASC has chronicled instances of 25 different surcharges on Asian export shippers.