British International Freight Association speaks out on shipping line surcharges

British International Freight Association speaks out on shipping line surcharges
Robert Keen, BIFA director general

The British International Freight Association (BIFA), which has pushed for an end to “spurious” surcharges applied by container shipping lines, has welcomed the announcements made by some companies that they will discontinue low sulphur fuel surcharges.

The trade association accused the carriers of profiteering when they announced in 2018 that they would be introducing low sulphur surcharges significantly in advance of the IMO 2020 regulation which took effect on January 1, 2020.

Rober Keen, BIFA director general, said: “Forwarders do not like shipping surcharges of whatever nature and we are hoping that other lines will follow suit and also stop their low sulphur surcharges, as well as reconsider their policies in regards to applying surcharges for anything from equipment imbalance to port congestion.”

He noted that the number of surcharges and fees has continued to grow over the last few years, “often with no real explanation or justification”.

While the low sulphur fuel surcharges have been discontinued, one shipping line is set to introduce a Merchant Haulage whilst another is adding a Container Compliance Charge.

Keen said: “If a shipper enters a contract to buy goods they should know exactly what they are paying and that price should not change.”

He insisted that regardless of how a shipper ships its goods, additional surcharges imposed by shipping lines should not be allowed.

Keen added: “Where is the justification for adding a surcharge for the general costs involved in running the business of container shipping?”

The BIFA director general concluded that some surcharges should already be consolidated within freight rates, with any required fluctuation being managed against that figure.