Shipper rep: Beware surcharges in low-rate environment
Australian shippers are being warned that the end of liner conferences in Europe won't necessarily make ancillary charges any less burdensome, according to a report this month in Australian Shipper.
Frank Beaufort, executive president of the Australian Peak Shippers Association, said that shippers should remain wary of so-called 'global formulas' and 'fair and simple charges' assessed by carriers to comply with ever more complex competition rules in Europe and other regions.
'Go to the line of your choice, then challenge them on their figures,' Beaufort said. 'We have no problems with cost recovery, provided it's not just compensation for zero freight rates. In the current environment, if you've got any volume at all – just ten boxes ' you'll get a deal. Nevertheless, carriers do their credibility no good at all when no shipping line is paying stevedores $354 (Australian) to handle a container. It's more likely half that much.'
Beaufort, in the report, said it was hard to believe that carriers had let freight rates drop to almost zero in some trades and that the revenue stream from surcharges wasn't sustainable.
'They've got no-one to blame but themselves – shippers didn't ask for zero freights – but in the long term it does neither side any good,' he said.