Panama Canal to change tolls structure

Panama Canal to change tolls structure
The expanded Panama Canal officially opened in June last year

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has published a proposal to modify its current tolls structure in an attempt to attract more traffic and ensure competitiveness.

The ACP decided to offer additional incentives to the containership segment after considering the current utilisation of the neo-Panamax locks and the feedback received during meetings with customers in Asia, Europe and North America.

The proposal includes more attractive rates for loaded containers on the return voyage only for neo-Panamax vessels deployed on the canal’s route in the head and back haul legs, provided that the northbound transit’s utilisation rate is at least 70% and the time lapse between northbound and southbound transit is up to 25 days.

However, a company statement noted that “in order to promote the use of the services provided by the local transportation hub, any additional days that the vessel requires to perform port-related activities in the Panamanian terminals will not add to the 25-day period”.

The Panama Canal’s administrator Jorge L. Quijano said: “These meetings with customers in Asia, Europe and North America have been extremely valuable in providing us with a deeper understanding of the industry today, the challenges faced by individual market segments, and the projected demand for the neo-Panamax locks.

“The proposed modifications safeguard the competitiveness of the waterway, the value of the route, and facilitates the Canal’s goal of providing an efficient and reliable service to the global shipping community.”

The industry will be able to provide feedback on the modifications, which were approved by the ACP’s board of directors in late May, as part of a 30-day formal consultation period started last week.

The changes to the tolls structure are expected to be implemented on October 1 this year after receiving the official approval of the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama.

The ACP also proposes to revise the tolls for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships, and to reassign container/breakbulk vessels, currently part of the ‘others segment’, into the ‘general cargo segment’.

According to the company, this would result in more attractive tariffs for customers in this category since general cargo tolls are lower.

“This change is made in response to a request submitted by customers during the 2015 tolls hearing and consultation process, and due to the fact that container/breakbulk vessels operate in a manner similar to that of general cargo vessels,” a company statement read.

“As in the past, the ACP takes into account the comments received during the tolls consultation processes and makes changes when considered necessary.”