The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced that it will postpone price increases on canal transit fees which were due to come into effect today, 15 April.

The decision follows a joint letter sent by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA), and European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA), expressing concerns over the speed of price increases that were expected to begin from mid-April.

“We appreciate that the fee change is designed to adapt to changing supply and demand for the Panama Canal’s service and we look forward to establishing a productive dialogue with the ACP to develop a long-term pricing strategy to provide industry with predictability on transit cost,” said ICS secretary general, Guy Platten.

The proposed changes represent a minimum cost increase per transit reservation of US$20,000, which represents a 57% growth, and a maximum cost increase of US$58,500, which translates to a 167% rise, will now start on 1 June.

The letter sent on 17 March, expressed concerns over the significant increase of the fees and stated that the 15 April start-date given by the ACP was too short for the maritime industry and canal users to be able to adjust. This is the reason, the ACP announced the postponed date for the new booking tariffs.

The ASA secretary general, Yuchi Sonoda expressed the association’s gratitude to the ACP for the decision to postpone its implementation date and noted, “ASA is appreciative that the ACP will continue to review on the voices of canal users in their future canal operations and managements, based on a higher economic stability and transparency.”

Additionally, Martin Dorsman, secretary general of ECSA has also welcomed ACP’s announcement, stating, “Especially in these times of high uncertainty, it is important for the shipping industry to be able to better prepare for these changes.”

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