Panama Canal to Modify Its Tolls Structure

Containership TritonImage Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal has released a proposal to modify its current tolls structure with an “aim to better serve the global maritime industry,” according to Jorge L. Quijano, the canal Administrator.

The move marks the beginning of a 30-day formal consultation period for industry feedback, which will close on July 15, 2019.

“Our proposed modifications will increase transparency and flexibility, among other improvements, to ensure the Panama Canal remains competitive and optimal for the industry today and moving forward,” Quijano added.

For the dry bulk segment, the proposal offers matching the tolls charged to Neopanamax vessels carrying iron ore with the tolls assessed for grains and “other dry bulk” cargoes, as well as a tariff increase for Neopanamax dry bulkers transiting in ballast.

The proposal also aims to add transparency to the tolls structure of the passenger segment by charging based on the maximum passenger capacity that can be carried by each specific passenger vessel. To that end, the canal is proposing to change the unit of measurement from a “per berth” to a “per passenger” basis, making it easier for cruise lines to transfer transit costs to their customers, the authority explained.

For the containership segment the proposed toll modifications “will help retain and incentivize increased cargo volumes” through the Panama Canal. Specifically, the proposal offers more attractive rates for customers who benefit from the Panama Canal Loyalty Program by adding new levels with reduced rates in the capacity charge for shipping lines deploying between 2 million to 3 million TEUs, and additional reductions for lines deploying an incremental over 3 million TEUs. The incentive implemented in the last toll modification of fiscal year 2018 for total TEU loaded in the return voyage (TTLR) will remain in effect.

Additionally, the proposed modifications for the Vehicle Carrier and RoRo segment include a new tariff category or range precisely designed for Neopanamax vessels to account vessel sizes and capacity, as well as slight increments in tolls tariffs for Panamax-sized vessels, as well as minor adjustments based on vessel size ranges.

Toll structures for tankers, chemical tankers, LPG and LNG vessels remain unchanged, but tolls adjustments are proposed to more closely align with the value of the route.

Small vessels and local tourism market would see the tolls revised upwards to take into account the resources used in the transit and the complexity of accommodating these vessels within the locks’ chambers.

Lastly, the canal proposed to review the rates charged to vessels carrying containers on deck, which do not belong to the container shipping segment, to allow for differentiated charges for containers that are empty, dry or refrigerated.

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