Some ocean carriers utilizing the US West Coast have implemented hefty Port Congestion Surcharges on all cargo transiting via West Coast ports. This could apply not only to containers discharging on the West Coast, but all intermodal containers still pending arrival/delivery that have already departed the coast and moved inland via rail. Carriers say the surcharge will cover costs arising from significant “disruption to normal course of operation due to labor unrest or action”. The port situation has impacted West Coast terminal and vessel operations so severely that extraordinary costs are being incurred at every step of cargo movement.
The proposed Port Congestion fee is around the below, with some variances among carriers:
- $800 per 20’ container
- $1000 per 40’ container
- $1125 per 40’ high cube
- $1266 per 45’ high cube
- $25 w/m for LCL cargo
Several industry groups, including the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association (NCBFAA), of which Future Forwarding Company is a member, have already raised concern regarding the legality and feasibility of these surcharges with the FMC (Federal Maritime Commission). The FMC regulates ocean carrier rates and surcharges and there are strict rules in place about when carriers can impose additional fees. Industry has warned the carriers that imposing stiff fees at such a critical time when shippers are already losing sales due to port delays is not good business practice. Importers are still trying to receive cargo in time for Black Friday sales, which is less than 2 weeks away.