Panama Canal Shipping Charges Increase

First rate increase in two years goes into effect June 1.

Member shipping lines in the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement have announced their intention to increase Panama Canal charges for the first time in more than two years, reflecting annual increases in Panama Canal transit fees, as well as various premium charges and other related cost increases incurred over time.

Effective June 1, 2007, WTSA lines will individually raise their chargers to a level of US$212 per container, and either $11.50 per metric ton or $4.50 per cubic meter for cargo rated on a weight or measurement basis. The increases will bring charges into line with what is being charged by carriers in other trades shipping container freight via the Canal today.

In 2005 the Panama Canal Authority adopted changes to the way Canal transit fees are assessed, shifting to a per container formula from one based on vessel weight, and then announced annual increases to the transit fee under the new formula, for 2005-07. WTSA lines modified the fee to reflect the new formula and initial increase but has not adjusted the charge since then. Westbound carriers shipping cargo from the U.S. to Asia are doubly impacted by Canal transit costs due to the high volume of empty containers being repositioned with no revenue to offset fees collected.

More recently, Panama's Cabinet Council has approved a proposal by the ACP for further transit fee increases of 10% annually over 2007-09, including an increase in the fee formula for empty containers effective May 1, 2007.

WTSA is a voluntary discussion and research forum of 10 major container shipping lines serving the trade from ports and inland points in the U.S. to destinations throughout Asia. Information on all recent and scheduled guideline actions adopted by WTSA can be found at www.wtsacarriers.org/.

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