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ICS rattles sabre over Suez toll increases

London: The International Chamber of Shipping ICS has protested toll increases issued by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA). The news follows the announcement by SCA that tolls will increase by 3-5% by ship type, beginning May 2013.

ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe told Seatrade the decision was “bad economic timing, and carried out without consultation with shipowners which was promised. Making a pre-emptive rise in tolls is very difficult to deal with, especially at short notice.”
“Most international ship operators are trading in the worst shipping markets in living memory due to there being too many ships chasing too few cargoes,” said Hinchliffe in an ICS statement. “This is not the time for the SCA to be announcing increases, which for some trades seem very dramatic indeed, and which many shipowners will find impossible to pass on to their customers. We recognise that, with pressure on Egypt’s tourism and its other economic problems, there is increased pressure on the SCA to maintain what is now the country’s biggest source of foreign revenue.  But the effect of these increases will be to give a spur to those owners who may already be considering the Cape route as a serious alternative.”
ICS goes on to discuss the growing attractiveness of the Cape of Good Hope as an alternative to the Suez Canal, with lower piracy risks and relatively lower expenses with the advent of slow steaming. “To the SCA’s credit, the Canal has so far continued to function smoothly.  But ICS will be repeating its request for full and proper consultation between the industry and the SCA, particularly whenever toll adjustments are being contemplated.”

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