Bloomberg News

Shippers Urge Withdrawal of Panama Canal Toll-Rise Plans

May 25, 2012

Ship owners representing 80 percent of the world’s fleet said plans to raise tolls by as much as 15 percent to navigate the Panama Canal as early as July 1 must be delayed pending a study on the impact on vessel operators.

The International Chamber of Shipping said the Panama Canal Authority proposals, announced last month, should be withdrawn, and six months’ notice given for future increases so shipping companies can plan properly for increased tolls.

“Plans to increase toll charges for the Panama Canal are rushed, excessive and likely to cause further problems for shipping companies given the fragile state of economic recovery,” the London-based ICS said today in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. is the biggest user, comprising 65 percent of trade using the 80-kilometer (50-mile) canal that links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. That’s followed by China at 24 percent, according to a March presentation from the authority.

Container lines transit the most with 276 vessels on 32 services using the route, the presentation showed. Panama is spending $5.25 billion to deepen and widen the canal by the end of 2014, adding new locks to accommodate larger vessels.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Wiese Bockmann in London at mwiesebockma@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net


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