The T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) is calling on shipping lines to justify a 12 per cent increase in Terminal Handling Charges (THC) which stakeholders of the port and the business community must pay from September. In a statement yesterday, the TTMA said that it “understands that one shipping line, CMA CGM has notified members of a 12 per cent increase in the THC from US$169 to US$189, effective from September 1.” The statement pointed out that the increase was the second in six months and that several other shipping lines had advised that increases in the charges will be implemented. Terminal handling charges (THC) are fees collected by shipping lines to cover the cost of loading or unloading containers on to ships from the container terminals and from the ship to the container terminal. In a statement, TTMA said: “These increases add to cost of inputs into manufacturing which will affect the cost of finished products, and this will likely be passed on to the consumers. This places our manufacturers in an uncompetitive position not only in the local market but also in the export markets.”
In the statement, the TTMA added that the fee increase will have a negative impact on imported goods as well and will add to the rising cost of doing business in T&T. The TTMA said the increased costs would lead to a decline in the demand for products manufactured in T&T, which would lead to declines in production levels. The manufacturers called on the shipping lines to re-think the decision to impose the increase in light of the negative impact it will have on the manufacturing sector. TTMA director, Paul Quesnel said between March and August there were increases in the bunker surcharge and the terminal handling charge and that these increases were impacting on the competitiveness of manufacturers. Quesnel said manufacturers now have to pay more to export their product.
Quesnel reiterated that shipping lines should explain to the business community the reason for the frequent increase in charges. Describing the frequent increases as “alarming” he said the business community understands the cost of doing business must increase but not as often. Meanwhile, Colin Lucas, general manager at the Port of Port-of-Spain (PPOS), said no tariffs have been increased at the port but PPOS is “certainly considering an increase. Inflation has eroded our buying power.” He added PPOS has been “holding off” on increasing charges at the port but may increase those charges soon. He could not say when. The TTMA and the Shipping Association of T&T plan to host a forum on shipping and logistics on September 12 to talk about the issues affecting trade.