Asian shippers protest new bunker surcharge

THE Asian Shippers’ Council has blasted an emergency bunker surcharge imposed by eight container lines in the Taiwan – Hong Kong/South China trade as setting a “dangerous precedent”.

The ASC accused the lines of taking advantage of the lack of legislative support in Asia with the imposition of a HK$440/Yuan400 ($58) emergency bunker surcharge on consignees in Hong Kong and South China regardless if the freight was prepaid in Taiwan.

ASC noted that while all eight lines made the announcement separately, the quanta were the same and so was the introduction date of July 1.

“This blatant action falls on the same day as the European Commission’s announcement of the final guidelines for liner shipping, spelling out principles of European competition law under which they must act,” the council said.

“The barely disguised collaboration amongst the eight lines would not be permitted in the European Union when a formal ban on shipping conferences takes effect on October 18.”

The shippers’ council believes that the bunker surcharge could form the thin end of the wedge of more such fees by shipping lines.

“Without any recourse the ASC fears that the innovative list of surcharges will become lengthier when lines converge in Asia, the remaining turf where they still enjoy the power of collective price fixing,” it warned.

The eight lines that introduced the surcharge are: OOCL, Wan Hai Lines, Evergreen Marine, Regional Container Lines, T.S. Lines, Kanway Shipping, Cheng Lie Navigation and Yang Ming Lines.