Shipping Congestion Incurs Surcharges

Shipping delays and port congestion are continuing to impact cargo moving through the port of Sydney, and now shipping lines are starting to impose hefty surcharges on import and export containers.

Last week we reported on shipping delays, taking note particularly of the situation for cargo imported and exported through Sydney. The congestion and delays there have already caused a number of vessels to omit the port from their schedule and discharge containers elsewhere. Now, as we anticipated, shipping lines are imposing surcharges on importers and exporters.

Shipping lines such as ANL, MSC and CMA/CGM are now seeking to impose congestion charges of several hundred US dollars per TEU (20’ unit) for freight arriving at the Port of Botany due to a variety of reasons, including protected industrial action at the wharves.

Maersk has announced that due to the congestion issues it will commence unloading Sydney bound cargo in Brisbane / Melbourne.

Pacific Asia Express (PAE) is implementing a Sydney container congestion charge - export (effective 21 September 2020) and import (effective 1 October 2020).

Most empty container parks in Sydney have no capacity and requests are being made for containers to be held at the yards of Freight Forwarders & Customs Brokers.

According to the standard terms on most bills of lading, carriers to have the right to delay delivery, discharge goods at a different port and charge additional costs if the carriage is affected by any delay or difficulty – the chief cause being port congestion, often caused by industrial action. It is standard for the B/L to include a term that the parties agree to be bound by the carrier's ‘tariff,’ including the imposition of a port congestion surcharge. 

At Colless Young we work on behalf of our clients to minimise all shipping costs, and the industry representative bodies we belong to have been actively campaigning to eliminate or reduce these kinds of penalty charges. So far, shipping companies have been replying to complaints by stating that they are subject to impacts on their operations and business viability, including additional transhipment costs, higher fuel costs, equipment costs and lost opportunity costs given the inability to reposition equipment back to demand areas. 

We will continue to do what we can to minimise these extra charges on your consignments and will avoid unnecessary transhipments through Sydney for cargo that is not destined for that port. We’ll keep you updated in the coming weeks.

As licensed Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders, Colless Young offers professional service for all your shipping requirements, including clearance of cargo through customs and quarantine, warehousing and trucking. We are based in Brisbane and handle imports and exports, both airfreight and seafreight, Australia-wide.