Stevedoring container cargo at a Vietnamese seaport. (Photo: PV/Vietnam+)
The Vietnam Association of Agents, Brokers and Maritime Services (Visaba) has recently sent a document to the Prime Minister and relevant ministries and departments regarding the enhancement of management of surcharges by foreign shipping lines.
Emphasizing that the current laws and regulations of Vietnam have been providing favorable conditions for foreign shipping lines to conduct business and operations at the country’s ports, Visaba’s leadership evaluates that the current activities of foreign shipping lines in Vietnam have significantly affected the interests of import-export businesses, ports, logistics, and the state management work.
Almost 100% of Vietnam’s import-export volume is currently handled by foreign shipping lines. Visaba points out the fact that foreign shipping lines enter and exit ports and open routes without having to report, as current Vietnamese law does not require registration and management of transportation routes.
Furthermore, Visaba also expresses concerns that shipping lines are currently charging around 10 types of surcharges on cargo at ports, such as container handling charges (including import and export ports), document charges, fuel charges, container cleaning charges, etc., with prices determined solely by the shipping lines without any agreement with customers. Especially, since the beginning of 2024, foreign shipping lines have continuously announced an increase of 10-20% in THC fees for each type of container service.
On the other hand, if shipping lines want to adjust fees and surcharges, they only need to publish price changes 15 days before the adjustment without going through inspections or explaining the factors constituting the fees and surcharges (according to Decree 146/2016 on price posting and surcharges for container shipping services by sea, service prices at ports).
The figures show that Vietnam is an important market for foreign shipping lines with 25 million Teus passing through Vietnamese seaports, including about 15 million containers of imported and exported goods. Visaba estimates that if the average surcharge per container by the shipping lines is $200/container, then Vietnam will lose control of about $3 billion annually.
“This increases logistics costs and decreases the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods compared to other countries,” assesses Visaba’s leadership.
Based on this, Visaba proposes to add surcharges to the price posting and surcharges for container shipping services by sea to the list of goods and services subject to price declaration, in order to complete the price management mechanism and surcharges for goods at ports, preventing shipping lines from arbitrarily increasing prices and profiting excessively, which affects the interests of cargo owners. In case of surcharges with super profits, a special consumption tax should be applied./.