Exporters continue to complain that foreign shipping lines have imposed unreasonable surcharges on Vietnamese shipments, hurting their chances of competing with other suppliers.
According to the Vietnam Cashew Association, some 10 new shipping fees have been introduced since May, including late payment, data transmission and seal surcharges.
Nguyen Duc Thanh, vice chairman of the association, said many of those fees are arbitrary. For instance, local companies now have to pay a fuel surcharge of US$50 or $100 per container. They are also subject to a non-refundable container security fee even though they used to be given the money back if the containers were returned in good conditions.
Foreign shipping companies also collected a container imbalance surcharge, which they say is meant to offset the cost of transporting empty containers out of Vietnam. But Thanh said this is also unfair. "If there are empty containers, it's because shipping companies are incompetent in finding enough goods for both trips back and forth. They should not ask us to cover for this."
Many shipping lines said they plan to increase their fees in September.
"New container ships have been put into use, causing a surplus in transport capacity. Besides, fuel costs are not stable and shipping firms will have to increase their surcharges to offset their losses," a representative of a company said.
But an industry insider told Thanh Nien that with or without the surcharges, all foreign shipping companies in Vietnam still make profits.
The Ministry of Transport in May reported that foreign shipping lines had imposed unfair surcharges on Vietnamese traders, taking advantage of the country's underdeveloped transportation industry.
Lawyer Tran Huu Huynh, head of the legal department of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it's necessary to make sure whether these companies have been working together to drive fees up.
Huynh said proving that foreign firms are abusing their market positive would not be easy due to limited information on shipping lines.