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U.S. port fees under investigation

     Container lift

Demurrage and detention practices of some ocean carriers and marine terminal operators, specifically in cases where shippers are not allowed to retrieve cargo, are the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). 

The investigation was launched in early April, after a petition was filed by a coalition of shippers who want an end to detention and demurrage charges due to circumstances beyond their control.  The shippers state unfair port charges have been levied more frequently in recent years as a result of labour strife, increasing freight volumes, the Hanjin bankruptcy and weather emergencies.

The subjects of the petition have been ordered to supply documents and explain their business practices, while the companies that filed the complaint have been asked to provide information that supports their claims.

Detention charges are assessed on cargo left at a terminal beyond the allotted free time, while demurrage is levied for late return of carriers’ containers.  The ocean carriers and terminal operators say it is needed to discourage long-term storage and improve equipment utilization.

For more information, contact David Lychek, Manager – Ocean & Air Services.

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If you are not careful, the money you save in one area may be exceeded by the extra costs you incur in another area.

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