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ICS presses to rescind proposed Panama Canal toll hikes

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pancanalJULY 13, 2012 —The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has submitted comments to the Panama Canal Authority in response to its public consultation on revised proposals to modify Panama Canal tolls.

ICS, whose membership comprises national shipowners’ associations from 36 countries, represents over 80 percent of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage.

ICS says it is appreciative that the PCA Board has made some effort to give the international shipping industry more time to adjust to the proposed increases by moving the implementation dates to October 2012 and October 2013, respectively.

However, it says it is “disappointed that the majority of the points on the initial proposal made in our comments to the May public consultation have not been addressed.  In particular, our observation that no account has been taken of the impact of the planned increases on shipping companies themselves, or of rises in other costs associated with the use of the Panama Canal, despite the fact that many of the sectors affected by the price rises are still struggling to survive in an extremely weak market.”

ICS says it is therefore repeating its request that the current proposal is “rescinded altogether, in view of the continuing crisis, and the fact that … Canal revenues are currently very healthy and there is no pressing financial need for increases.  The PCA and the international shipping industry would then be afforded the time and space to work together to develop a toll structure that can be to the benefit of all parties over the longer term, to be introduced when the expansion project is completed in late 2014.”

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