Vietnam draft decree on sea freight worries foreign shipping lines

Thanh Nien News

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Containers at Dinh Vu Port in the northern city of Hai Phong. Photo: Reuters Containers at Dinh Vu Port in the northern city of Hai Phong. Photo: Reuters


Several foreign logistics companies have expressed concern about a proposed government decree requiring shipping companies to publicize their freight tariffs to protect exporters and importers, the media reported Monday.
Switzerland-based MSC, French-owned CMA-GM, and Singaporean-owned APL-NOL voiced their opinion through London-headquartered law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which sent a letter to the government last week, according to news website Bao Dau Tu.
The decree, if applied, would harm trade activity in Vietnam, the letter warned.
Since most container freight activities around the world are now done through confidential contracts, information about freight costs, if revealed, would be taken advantage of by Vietnamese exporters’ rivals and customers, it said.
Foreign companies that import Vietnamese goods could object strongly and turn to suppliers in other countries, it said.
It called on relevant authorities to meet with shipping companies to discuss these concerns.
The letter comes even as the transport ministry is soliciting opinions about the decree, the news website reported.
It requires shipping lines to publish their freight tariffs, including surcharges and commissions paid to brokers, on their own websites and the Vietnam Maritime Administration's portal.
An inspection by the finance ministry last year found 20 foreign shipping lines that dominate the logistics market imposing nearly 70 kinds of surcharges, many of which were "unclear" and unreasonably high.
The surcharges accounted for more than a third of their VND77.1 trillion (US$3.53 billion) revenue in 2013-14.
Nearly half of the surcharges were terminal handling charges (THC) at "much higher" rates than charged by Vietnamese ports, it said. They collected $88-131.5 per container as THC while the ports only charged $46.1-69.1.
The companies were also unclear about some surcharges such as container clearance and maintenance, the ministry 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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