Increases in port charges must be carefully considered: Administration

Wednesday, June 16, 2021  09:49

Careful consideration is needed before increasing seaport services charges to limit negative impacts on the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Vietnam Maritime Administration.

Responding to the Vietnam Ship Agents, Brokers and Maritime Service Providers Association (VISABA)’s proposal to raise container handling charges, the maritime administration said while the COVID-19 pandemic was still complex and hitting firms hard, the logistics costs must not cause any more burdens for import and export firms.

The Government also asked to keep service charges stable at this time.

VISABA recently proposed the minimum container loading and unloading charges at some ports in the northern region be increased by 10% annually for three consecutive years, starting from July 1, 2021.

For deep-water seaports, Lach Huyen and Cai Mep - Thi Vai, the increase was proposed to be at least 20% from July 1 and 10% for the next three years.  

Nguyen Xuan Ky, general director of Tan Cang - Cai Mep International Terminal Company Limited, said seaports played an important role in the circulation of goods, adding it was necessary to increase services changes so enterprises could have resources for reinvestment.

According to the Vietnam Maritime Administration, foreign shipping lines collect a terminal handling charge of around US$114-173 per container on their customers in Vietnam. However, Vietnam’s ports collect very low container handling charges, about US$33 per 20ft-container at Dinh Vu, US$52 at Cai Mep and US$41 at HCM City.

The container loading and unloading charges of Vietnam remained low, only equivalent to 80% of Cambodia, 70% of Malaysia, 61% of Indonesia and 46% of Singapore.

The low container handling charges were considered a competitive advantage of Vietnam’s seaport system to attract big cargo container ships to deep-water seaports, including Cai Mep - Thi Vai and Lach Huyen.

Vietnam has attracted 40 foreign shipping lines with the transported cargo volume increasing by an average of 13% each year, helping promote the development of the logistics system and accelerate trade, according to the maritime administration.

The maritime administration said reasonable seaport service charges helped not only attract shipping lines but also stabilise the market and prevent unhealthy competition among service providers.

Port companies have reported profits, with Hai Phong Port earning VND173 billion after-tax profit in the first quarter of this year, while Da Nang and Quy Nhon reported increases by 7% and 27%, respectively.

The maritime administration said that Circular 54/2018/TT-BGTVT only regulated the minimum services charges and enterprises could charge higher fees than the minimum levels.

However, most seaports were applying the minimum fees under the circular to attract shipping lines.