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The meeting was convened in the wake of Vietnam Apparel Association’s (Vitas) denouncing a number of foreign shipping firms which had collected allegedly unreasonable container imbalance charge (CIC) sums from Vitas members.
“The shipping firms are required to send representatives to the meeting to seek a remedy for current unsolved problems related to the unreasonable surcharges and transportation fares,” said Nguyen Xuan Sang, head of Vietnam Maritime Administration, in the invitation letter.
Seven foreign shipping firms have received an invitation, including Evergreen, Huyndai, KMTC, STIC, Dongjin Shipping, Continental, and Heung A.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Van Cong called the meeting after receiving written complaints from Hanoi Industrial Textile JSC (Haicatex) and Vitas.
Particularly, Haicatex, which imports 90 per cent of its production materials and exports 80 per cent of its non-woven cloth products, said that all of their export containers transported by the above-mentioned foreign shipping firms incurred CICs ranging from VND3.2 –VND3.6 million ($146-$165) per 40-foot container.
On the grounds that not every shipping firm charges container imbalance, Haicatex argues that CIC collection by the firms is spontaneous and unreasonable.
CIC is a kind of sea freight charge carriers collect to offset costs arising from the transferring (re-positioning) of large amounts of empty containers from one place to another.
This surcharge is usually collected as a fixed amount for each container, and can only be applied to each stage, for each route of travel. In other words, carrier surcharges are collected only when the transferring of empty containers incurs unusually large costs.
Vitas members, however, reported that the shipping firms have been collecting CIC all year-round, whereas it is only applicable during peak times when the volume of Vietnamese imports increases sharply, resulting in a lack of capacity to cover carrier customers.
Truong Van Cam, Vitas secretary general commented that local business associations have many a time asked foreign carriers to abrogate unjust surcharge collection, including CIC.
“Foreign carriers apply a lengthened list of charges and surcharges, many of which are deemed to be unreasonable and put increased burdens on local businesses by boosting logistics costs to up to 60 per cent of total import-export expenditure,” Cam added.