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Panama Canal Implements Temporary Measures To Mitigate Economic Crisis

by Mike Godfrey, for LawAndTax-News.com, Washington

13 May 2009


Demonstrating sensitivity to customer needs during these uncertain economic times, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced a temporary plan that will provide short-term cost reduction and greater flexibility to its Reservation System.

The temporary measures, designed to help mitigate the impact of the crisis on the Canal's clients, were initially approved by the ACP Board of Directors on April 27. The result of informal consultations with clients, the temporary measures will take effect on June 1, 2009 and continue through September 30, 2009.

The two primary components are:

  • A redefinition of ballast (ships without cargo) for full container vessels transiting the Canal; and
  • Modifications to the Reservation System to increase flexibility and reduce fees.

I. Temporary Redefinition of Ballast for Full Containerships

The ACP will modify the definition of ballast for full container vessels, allowing a ship that carries 30% or less of its capacity to be charged the ballast rate of USD57.60 (GBP38) per TEU, USD14.40 (GBP9.5) less than the USD72 (GBP47) laden (ships with cargo) rate.

II. Temporary Modifications to the Reservation System

Reservation Fee Reduction: The base reservation price is reduced depending on the vessel size for all segments that use the ACP's Reservation System. For example, the base reservation price for a super vessel, with a beam greater than or equal to 100 feet and a length greater than or equal to 900 feet, is reduced by USD5,000 per transit.

Late Arrival Fee Reductions: Currently, when vessels fail to arrive on-schedule, they lose their slot, but have the option to pay an additional charge to keep the reservation and transit that same day. The new temporary measure reduces the charges and provides shipping lines with greater flexibility. The percentage reduction varies depending on the vessel's arrival time.

More Flexibility for Slot Substitutions: Canal customers will now have 30 days before the date of a vessel's transit to request slot substitutions without additional costs. Previously, customers could make such requests without an additional charge if that request was made at least 60 days prior to the date of transit. This temporary measure grants shipping lines more flexibility for slot substitutions, allowing them to replace one vessel for another with similar dimensions.


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