Panama Canal Issues Proposal to Modify Tolls Structure

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The Panama Canal published today a proposal to modify its current tolls structure for the dry bulk, passenger, containership and vehicle carrier and RoRo segments, as well as tankers, chemical tankers, LPG and LNG vessels, the intra-maritime cluster (local tourism segment) and minimum tolls (small vessels). Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a 30-day formal consultation period for industry feedback, which will close on July 15, 2019.

“With this proposal, we aim to better serve the global maritime industry,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “Our proposed modifications will increase transparency and flexibility, among other improvements, to ensure the Panama Canal remains competitive and optimal for the industry today and moving forward.”

For the dry bulk segment, the proposal offers matching the tolls charged to Neopanamax vessels carrying iron ore with the tolls assessed for grains and “other dry bulk” cargoes, as well as a tariff increase for Neopanamax dry bulkers transiting in ballast.

The proposal also aims to add transparency to the tolls structure of the passenger segment by charging based on the maximum passenger capacity that can be carried by each specific passenger vessel. To that end, the Canal is proposing to change the unit of measurement from a “per berth” to a “per passenger” basis, making it easier for cruise lines to transfer transit costs to their customers.

For the containership segment-the main user of Neopanamax Locks-the proposed toll modifications will help retain and incentivize increased cargo volumes through the Panama Canal. Specifically, the proposal offers more attractive rates for customers who benefit from the Panama Canal Loyalty Program by adding new levels with reduced rates in the capacity charge for shipping lines deploying between 2 million to 3 million TEUs, and additional reductions for lines deploying an incremental over 3 million TEUs. The incentive implemented in the last toll modification of fiscal year 2018 for total TEU loaded in the return voyage (TTLR) will remain in effect.

To add further transparency to the toll structure for the Vehicle Carrier and RoRo segment, the proposed modifications include-for the first time–a new tariff category or range precisely designed for Neopanamax vessels to account vessels sizes and capacity. Additional modifications for this segment include slight increments in tolls tariffs for Panamax-sized vessels, as well as minor adjustments based on vessel size ranges.

Toll structures for tankers, chemical tankers, LPG and LNG vessels remain unchanged, but tolls adjustments are proposed to more closely align with the value of the route.

Tolls for small vessels (minimum tolls) and for the local tourism market are being revised upwards to take into account the resources used in the transit and the complexity of accommodating these vessels within the locks’ chambers. The last tariff adjustments for small vessels were implemented in 2012.

Lastly–and based on comments submitted by clients during the 2017 public consultation and hearing process–the Canal proposes to review the rates charged to vessels carrying containers on deck, which do not belong to the container shipping segment, to allow for differentiated charges for containers that are empty, dry or refrigerated.

The complete proposal is available at www.pancanal.com/peajes. All interested parties are invited to participate in the consultation process as well as the public hearing to be held in Panama City, Panama, on July 24, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. (local time). In accordance with established rules, the Panama Canal will consider all correspondence received by 4:15 p.m. (local time) on July 15, 2019, as well as comments and opinions presented during the public hearing.

After a careful evaluation and analysis of the comments received, and once any pertinent changes are incorporated in the proposal, the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama will officially approve the modifications. The date for implementation of the modifications to the tolls structure is planned for January 1, 2020.

Sea News, June 17