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Canadian importers hurt by unfair charges

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders’ Association (CIFFA) has issued a press release today seeking a rollback of port and terminal charges incurred by importers during the month-long truckers’ strike that affected Vancouver in February and March 2014.

During this period many cargoes were stranded at Vancouver ports, waiting for hauliers. Terminal facilities routinely charge cargo owners for container storage at ports to encourage prompt pick-up and removal. These charges can be as high as $400 per container per day, or many millions of dollars in charges on containers that were not picked up because they could not be picked up.

Freight Forwarders, who arrange transportation for Canadian importers and who frequently pay or guarantee port charges on behalf of their customers, are “angry and frustrated, and they want the situation addressed.” In addition to facing month-long delays on delivery, their customers are now also facing charges that average $3000 per container, but in many cases are much higher than that. Importers with many cargoes in transit have reported terminal charges as high as $500,000 for storage of their imports during this period, and six figure charges are not uncommon.

It will not be surprising that some importers cannot afford these charges and experience substantial losses or even insolvency. CIFFA is concerned that “the impact on the economy, jobs, and consumer prices is going to be felt across western Canada and particularly in B.C.”

CIFFA is seeking an amicable resolution in which the three Vancouver terminal operators substantially rollback or refund these charges, which were “designed to get containers off the dock… [not]to punish importers and exporters caught with their cargo stranded in the port during a labour dispute.” TSI, operator of Vanterm and Deltaport, offered a reduction in charges to ten days for containers stranded during the action and removed before 1 April 2014.

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