THE Asian Shipowners′ Forum (ASF), supported by the Japanese Shipowners′ Association (JSA), are protesting proposed Panama Canal toll increases, saying that they were made without consultation and at a time when the industry can least afford them.
"Under the current economic situation, the newly proposed toll increase would be detrimental to the shipping industry," said the ASF, which was separately issued by the JSA.
"The ASF urges the ACP [Panama Canal Authority] to withdraw its current proposal for toll adjustments in 2012 and 2013 and to maintain a close and interactive dialogue with the shipping industry to ensure that toll adjustments would be reasonable, transparent and gradually implemented," said the statement.
This comes in response to the ACP announcement of its intention to raise tolls in July and again next year 2013 and to modify the toll structure. The ACP has invited comments.
Said the ASF statement: "Given the importance of the Panama Canal as an international public infrastructure vital for efficient operation of the global supply chain, the notice period for the proposed toll increase given by the ACP was too short.
"The proposed toll increase was unilaterally formulated without any form of consultation or dialogue with the shipping industry and the ASF is of the view that this may inhibit business planning which could possibly lead to reduction in the total revenue received by the ACP," the statement said.
The ASF would also request the ACP to review its pricing policy to increase tolls at an annual 3.5 per cent average rate for 20 years, which was referred to in the "Proposals for the Expansion of the Panama Canal" in April 2006.