Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Maersk Delays Congestion Surcharge

By Mark Edward Nero

Maersk Line is delaying “until further notice” a congestion surcharge that it had planned on implementing beginning Nov. 26 on cargo traveling to the US West Coast. This marks the second time Maersk has delayed the introduction of the congestion surcharge, which was originally slated for Nov. 18.

The line announced last month that it would levy an $800 per TEU and $1,000 per FEU surcharge on cargoes on the transpacific due to congestion at US West Coast ports.

Congestion has been an issue at West Coast ports for months, with the blame going partially to a surge of larger ships that has taxed terminals at ports around the world to move cargo faster. Labor unrest has also been cited as a problem. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents management, has been engaged in talks on a new contract with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union since mid-May. The previous six-year deal expired July 1.

“As you are aware, congestion is real and tangible, and a reality which will continue to impact the US West Coast for the foreseeable future,” Maersk said in notice to customers. “That said, we have made the decision to delay the application of the congestion surcharge until further notice.”

In mid-November, the Federal Maritime Commission issued a statement on congestion surcharges, stating that any surcharges levied by ocean carriers that results in an increased cost to a shipper may not go into effect more than 30 days after notice of the change is given.

“The Commission continues to review congestion surcharge rules published in carrier tariffs and is gathering information from carriers regarding implementation of these surcharges,” the FMC said in a Nov. 17 statement.