Shipping companies are currently charging about ten types of surcharges for goods at seaports

VCN - The Vietnam Ship Agents, Brokers, and Maritime Services Providers Association (Visaba) has recently expressed concerns that a series of fees and surcharges are unilaterally determined by foreign shipping lines without agreement with customers.
Loading and unloading goods at Cat Lai Port, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.H.
Loading and unloading goods at Cat Lai Port, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.H.

According to Mr. Nhữ Đính Thiện, Vice Secretary-General of Visaba, the current operations of foreign shipping lines in Vietnam significantly impact the rights of import and export enterprises, seaports, logistics, and state management efforts.

Mr. Thiện analyzed: Nearly 100% of Vietnam’s import and export cargo volume is handled by foreign shipping lines; these lines enter and leave ports and open routes without needing to report since current Vietnamese laws do not regulate the registration and management of transport routes.

Additionally, these shipping companies are charging around ten types of surcharges for goods at seaports (such as THC surcharges, documentation fees, fuel surcharges, container cleaning fees, etc.). However, the shipping lines themselves decide the price levels and types of these surcharges without any agreement with customers.

Vietnamese cargo owners, not being the contract negotiators for transportation, are forced to accept these surcharge terms to receive their goods. With this practice, from the beginning of 2024, foreign shipping lines have continuously announced increases of 10–20% (from VND 290,000 to 550,000 per container) in THC fees for each container service.

When shipping companies want to adjust fees and surcharges, they simply post price changes 15 days before the adjustment and are not required to go through checks or explain the factors constituting the fees and surcharges (according to Decree 146/2016/ND-CP dated November 2, 2016, on price listing, additional charges beyond service prices for container cargo transportation by sea, service prices at seaports).

Foreign shipping lines have been demanding very strong discounts from depots, up to 50-60% of the lifting charges, while these fees are not related to the shipping companies.

From this reality, Mr. Thiện calculates, with 25 million TEUs going through Vietnamese ports, of which about 15 million containers are import and export goods, Vietnam is becoming an important market for foreign shipping lines.

In fact, for an average container, the shipping companies charge an additional $200, thus annually Vietnam is losing over $3 billion uncontrolled. This is income on Vietnamese territory paid by Vietnamese import and export cargo owners. This situation increases logistics costs and reduces the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods compared to other countries, particularly as there are transport routes with zero or negative freight rates.

Disturbed by this reality, the Vietnam Cargo Owners Association has sent letters to the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Price Management Department - Ministry of Finance, and the Vietnam Maritime Administration, requesting stronger management of the surcharges by foreign shipping lines.

Mr. Phan Thông, General Secretary of the Association, stated that for many years now, foreign shipping lines have arbitrarily charged dozens of different fees and surcharges for the goods of Vietnamese import and export enterprises. This price increase is not based on any regulations of the managing authorities and is much higher than the handling fees that the shipping lines pay back to Vietnamese seaports.

Consequently, when Circular 39/2023/TT-BGTVT of the Ministry of Transport, which decided to adjust the prices for pilot services, use of bridges, docks, buoys, container handling, and towing, was issued on December 25, 2023, and took effect from February 15, 2024, from the beginning of February 2024, all foreign shipping lines simultaneously announced a 10–20% increase in THC fees for each container service in Vietnam. Notably, this fee increase applies only to Vietnam, while other countries in the region have not seen a similar increase in THC fees. Especially, in absolute terms, the 10-20% increase in THC fees by the shipping lines is three times higher than the price adjustment for container handling at Vietnamese seaports.

Mr. Lê Duy Hiệp, Chairman of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLA), believes that it is time to tighten the management of surcharges by foreign shipping lines. To achieve this, legal aspects and international practices need to be studied.

From the reality above, the associations suggest that the regulatory bodies should include surcharges beyond service prices for container cargo transportation by sea in the list of goods and services subject to price declaration to perfect the price management mechanism and the types of surcharges for goods at seaports, to avoid arbitrary price increases and excessive charges affecting cargo owners' rights. In cases of super-profit surcharges, special consumption taxes should be applied.

Additionally, review and issue a management mechanism for collecting various surcharges, compared with the regulations of Vietnamese law and international practices, demanding shipowners to immediately stop collecting unreasonable fees, and also recommending the Prime Minister to soon enact mechanisms for managing the fee collection of foreign shipping companies operating in Vietnam.

By Lê Thu/Tran Minh

Related News

Loosening the belt buckle for sustainable development of the maritime industry

Loosening the belt buckle for sustainable development of the maritime industry

VCN - Recently, the growth of maritime and waterway transportation has been impressive, with a double-digit rate of about 10-12% per year. However, despite many advantages, the waterway system has not been efficiently utilized, commensurate with its potential. The Customs News had a discussion with Pham Quoc Long, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Shipowners' Association, on this issue.
Thanh Hoa Customs Department confirms power thanks to accompany and support activities

Thanh Hoa Customs Department confirms power thanks to accompany and support activities

VCN - Regularly grasping the "health" of import-export businesses and promptly disseminating new policies to businesses... are methods have been focused on and are being implemented by Thanh Hoa Customs Department in order to support businesses’ bounce back and push import-export growth, while ensuring state management of customs.
Ba Ria - Vung Tau Customs: Contributing to promoting the economic potential of seaports

Ba Ria - Vung Tau Customs: Contributing to promoting the economic potential of seaports

The consecutive "super ships" of containers docking in the first two months of 2024 have affirmed the potential, advantages and important role of the deep-water port cluster of Cai Mep - Thi Vai, Ba Ria - Vung Tau on Asia - Europe maritime routes. To facilitate maximal import and export activities of goods, vehicles and passengers, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Customs Department has been making efforts to reform procedures, modernize professional lines, customs inspection and supervision.
3 seaport master plan projects to be developed in 2024

3 seaport master plan projects to be developed in 2024

VCN - Amidst the challenging global situation, with unpredictable conflicts in some regions and post-Covid-19 economic recessions in many countries, the volume of goods passing through seaports in 2023 still increased by 5%, passengers by 17%, and the number of maritime vessels increased by 2%.

Latest News

Find opportunities in niche markets to increase exports

Find opportunities in niche markets to increase exports

VCN - New markets and niche markets are the way for exports to reduce dependence on traditional markets. Exploiting opportunities in these markets will open up many new opportunities.
Vietnam transforming into new global manufacturing hub: experts

Vietnam transforming into new global manufacturing hub: experts

Vietnam is transforming into a new global manufacturing hub, offering a diverse range of products that are competitively priced and continuously improving in quality, assessed foreign distributors and importers, who will participate in the Vietnam International Sourcing expo this June.
Sustaining growth solutions for coffee exports

Sustaining growth solutions for coffee exports

VCN - The continuous increase in coffee prices has provided a strong boost for coffee exports, aiming for a record of US$5 billion. However, it still requires many comprehensive solutions to enhance quality and value to ensure sustainable development for the coffee industry in the future.
Vietnam National Brand Week to be held in mid-April

Vietnam National Brand Week to be held in mid-April

The Vietnam National Brand Week 2024 will be held nationwide from April 15-21 to raise public awareness of Vietnam national brand and promote products recognised as national brands to domestic and international communities.

More News

Textile industry in sustainability push to meet stringent requirements

Textile industry in sustainability push to meet stringent requirements

Textile and garment businesses are making a green push with development of eco-friendly products adapted to global fashion trends and by meeting the stringent requirements under free trade agreements the country has signed, according to industry insiders.
Vietnam ready to ride US investment wave

Vietnam ready to ride US investment wave

Vietnam is on the verge of seeing a massive influx of investments from the US, and stands ready to welcome the wave.
Investing in wages is investing in development

Investing in wages is investing in development

VCN - According to Dr. Bui Sy Loi (photo), senior expert of the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, former Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs, the National Assembly's adoption of the reform policy salaries, resource decisions and salary reform policies on July 1, 2024 is a suitable time, both historical and topical, contributing to ensuring life, creating peace of mind for staff, civil servants, public employees and workers.
Import and export in the first quarter: clearer and clearer bounce- back trend

Import and export in the first quarter: clearer and clearer bounce- back trend

VCN - As calculated, total import-export turnover of goods in the first quarter of the year reached over 178 billion USD, up 15.5% year on year. Both exports and imports achieved high growth rates, clearly showing a recovery trend.
Measures sought for coffee firms to adapt to EU Deforestation Regulations

Measures sought for coffee firms to adapt to EU Deforestation Regulations

Experts gathered in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai on April 9 to seek measures to help local coffee businesses to adapt to the EU Deforestation Regulations (EUDR) and promote exports to the EU market in particular and the world in general.
Vietnam’s export to India maintains growth momentum

Vietnam’s export to India maintains growth momentum

Vietnam kept its export growth momentum in the Indian market in 2023 after two-way trade hit a record high of 15 billion USD in 2022, Vietnamese trade counsellor in India Bui Trung Thuong told the Vietnam News Agency.
Ample room remains for Vietnam"s exports to China

Ample room remains for Vietnam"s exports to China

There remains ample room for Vietnam's exports to China and the growth will be directly proportional to the quality improvement of products by domestic enterprises, according to Dau tu (Investment) Newspaper.
Negotiating actively FTAs, increasing benefits for businesses

Negotiating actively FTAs, increasing benefits for businesses

VCN - Facing the improvement of exports in the first quarter, sharing with the press, Mr. Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade) said that many solutions will continue to be implemented to achieve the goal export growth 2024.
Take advantage to increase fruit and vegetable exports to nearby markets

Take advantage to increase fruit and vegetable exports to nearby markets

VCN - With close geographical distance, low cost and transportation time, and preferential tariffs... are great advantages that Vietnam's fruit and vegetable industry needs to take advantage of to increase exports to other Asian markets such as China, ASEAN, Middle East...
Read More

Your care

Latest Most read
Find opportunities in niche markets to increase exports

Find opportunities in niche markets to increase exports

VCN - To support businesses in accessing the market, Vietnamese trade agencies abroad are actively providing information and connecting Vietnamese businesses with potential markets.
Vietnam transforming into new global manufacturing hub: experts

Vietnam transforming into new global manufacturing hub: experts

Vietnam is transforming into a new global manufacturing hub, offering a diverse range of products that are competitively priced and continuously improving in quality, assessed foreign distributors and importers, who will participate in the Vietnam International Sourcing expo this June.
Sustaining growth solutions for coffee exports

Sustaining growth solutions for coffee exports

VCN - The continuous increase in coffee prices has provided a strong boost for coffee exports, aiming for a record of US$5 billion. However, it still requires many comprehensive solutions to enhance quality and value to ensure sustainable development for
Vietnam National Brand Week to be held in mid-April

Vietnam National Brand Week to be held in mid-April

The Vietnam National Brand Week 2024 will be held nationwide from April 15-21 to raise public awareness of Vietnam national brand and promote products recognised as national brands to domestic and international communities.
Textile industry in sustainability push to meet stringent requirements

Textile industry in sustainability push to meet stringent requirements

Textile and garment businesses are making a green push with development of eco-friendly products adapted to global fashion trends and by meeting the stringent requirements under free trade agreements the country has signed, according to industry insiders.
Mobile Version