Panama Canal to raise shipping toll rates 12-14% in 2011

16 June 2010 22:29  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The Panama Canal will raise tolls next year for all shipping segments by 12-14%, according to data obtained from the Latin American waterway on Wednesday.

Such increases would occur on most shipping segments, according to a table of rate changes by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The Panamanian government approved the hikes earlier this week.

The table showed tanker and general cargo rates rising 12-14% in January 2011.

The increases would help defray the cost of the canal's $5.25bn (€4.25bn) expansion project, which involves digging a third set of locks that would double the waterway's capacity by 2014. The new locks would allow for the transit of larger, wider and deeper draft vessels.

Two Latin American newspapers on Wednesday used wider ranges in stories about opposition to the hikes from shipping lines in three Latin American countries - Ecuador, Chile and Peru.

El Universo pegged the canal's increases in a range of 8-12%, while El Comercio estimated the rate hikes ranging from 8-16%.

El Comercio noted that the three Latin American countries depended on the canal for exporting fruit and chilled products to the US east coast and Europe.

The ACP's statement said the toll increases on refrigerated or reefer cargoes would be postponed from January until April 2011. ACP chief executive Alberto Alemán Zubieta said the reefer hike was moved back after hearings with industry and government officials.

The ACP held off raising rates this year "in view of the world economic situation", it said in the statement.

($1 = €0.81)

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By: Lane Kelley
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