Government mulls oversight of shipping fees on rip-off by foreign freight firms

Thanh Nien News

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Containers are handled at a Vietnamese seaport. Photo: Diep Duc Minh
Following a finance ministry report that foreign shipping lines are slapping dozens of different surcharges on customers, the government is planning to bring all fees related to sea freight under its oversight.
It ordered the transport ministry to publicize a list of collectible fees and surcharges and draft relevant regulations, including on how they should be declared, the government website said last week.
The Vietnam Shippers' Council will collaborate with relevant agencies to help its members switch to cheaper means of freight while negotiating with shipping lines to scrap unreasonable surcharges.
In a report to the government in June, the Ministry of Finance said 20 foreign shipping lines that dominate Vietnam's logistics market are imposing nearly 70 kinds of surcharges, many of which are "unclear" and unreasonably high.
The surcharges accounted for more than a third of their VND77.1 trillion (US$3.53 billion) revenues in 2013-14, according to the ministry.
Nearly half of the surcharges are terminal handling charges (THC), which are "much higher" than those charged by Vietnamese ports, it said. The shipping companies collect $88-131.5 per container as THC while the ports only charge $46.1-69.1, it said.
The companies are also "unclear" about some surcharges like container clearance and maintenance, the report said.
As of last October some 40 foreign shipping lines were operating in Vietnam, handling around 88 percent of all cargo, according to the Vietnam Maritime Administration.
They accounted for nearly all shipments from and to Europe and the US.

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