Multiple Transpac Carriers Reinstate Congestion Surcharge, Effective Nov. 26

According to multiple media outlets, five (5) Transpacific carriers have revived plans to implement a Congestion Surcharge of USD 1,000 per 40’ container to ocean cargo arriving on the U.S. West Coast with a gate-in date of November 26 or later. While the affected carriers – CMA, Hanjin, Maersk, MSC and Zim – have announced a firm effective date for the new surcharge, several others have suspended versions of the same surcharge until further notice.

While most carriers will apply the surcharge to shipments routed to or via U.S. West Coast ports only, Hanjin and Maersk will also apply the surcharge to Canadian ports. Similarly, while most carriers will apply the charge per formula for various container sizes, Zim has announced a flat rate of USD 1,000 for all container sizes. Reportedly, APL has also filed to reinstate the surcharge, but has yet to announce an effective date.

Initial plans to implement a Congestion Surcharge (effective Nov. 17) were postponed in the wake of criticism from shippers and concerns raised by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). According to FMC Chairman Mario Cordero, this latest round of surcharges has also inspired investigation by his staff.

“The questions they’re asking,” Cordero told the Journal of Commerce, “are: At what point does the surcharge apply? And what is the condition or event that triggers the application of the surcharge?” On November 17, the FMC posted a notice to its website stipulating that all surcharges must “be clear and definite as to [their] implementation and termination…based upon specific criteria related to ‘labor unrest.’” In addition, some shippers have questioned the legality of applying a surcharge to cargo after it is in a carrier’s possession.

Walker will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customers apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions regarding specific shipments, please feel free to contact your Walker representative.