New shipping surcharge looms

Charlton

Careful Tasmania, the desire to meet at a coffee shop to discuss bright futures can be tainted by the lower sun and the falling leaves around our feet. Our vitamin D levels drop and we have the risk of looking inward instead of outward. The transition from craft beer and sauvignon blanc outside to whiskey and pinot by a fire inside can be difficult for some – it will take some adjustment, but remember that the world is still spinning!

Alas however, I do have some trying news that traders need to be aware of. It is easy to glance at some recent announcements from our northern neighbors and discount these occurrences as not relevant to us, but we rely on the northern ports and indeed the ramifications do extend to us one way or another.

One new surcharge that will hit Tasmanian exporters and importers that use shipping lines that employ the stevedores DP World is a wharf infrastructure surcharge.

Shippers can expect to pay around A$32.50 to A$40.00 (depending on whom is invoicing the surcharge and accounting the charge based on administration etc) per container. The reasoning for this charge is due to an increased cost on rent, land taxes and council rates and also to allow the stevedore to invest in critical infrastructure (this is in Melbourne and Sydney).

At time of writing this article, the fee is due to come into effect on the 17th April 2017 – there are a number of industry bodies opposing the fee and the way it is being rolled out, but most see it as inevitable and the approach of DP World is “take it or leave it” – effectively inviting port users to switch to lines using other stevedores (such as Patricks) although there is perception that if DP World can get this into standard charges, then other stevedores will follow suit.

Another change that will have an impact on domestic traders in suburban Victoria is the increase of road tolls of 125 per cent. All transport companies will be passing these charges on by way of surcharge or increase in cartage base costs.

It is frustrating that in an environment where we finally have some space to grow (increased competition in Bass Strait and international shipping, increased capacity, favourable exchange rates, free trade agreements and freight equalisation for export cargoes), that there always seems to be someone coming up behind to throw a spanner into the works and add to costs or compliance. But don’t let them get you down! Pour another glass of pinot, throw another log on the fire and value add to accommodate the additional costs if you can.

By Brett Charlton, Agility Logistics General Manager Tasmania

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