‘Not right time’ to increase port storage fees — AmCham

‘Not right time’ to increase port storage fees — AmCham

THE American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) said it does not support increasing port storage fees as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic.

“We have been lobbying against any kind of storage (fee) increases; it is not just the right time,” said Ebb Hinchliffe, AmCham’s executive director, on the sidelines of the Management Association of the Philippines Annual General Membership Meeting on Tuesday.

“You know, we are just coming out of the mess of the pandemic … I think (the government has) got better things to worry about,” Mr. Hinchliffe said.

Last month, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) proposed an increase in storage rates in an online public consultation on Oct. 18, according to the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport).

In its proposal, the PPA said that it is planning to increase the storage charges by 32% for import, export, and transshipment containers and to add a 150% surcharge on the corresponding storage rates with increase for refrigerated containers.

Philexport, citing the PPA, said the increase in storage charges will ensure optimal use of the yards and encourage immediate withdrawal of containers to prevent congestion.

In its position letter submitted to the agency on Nov. 6, Philexport recommended that the proposal go through a regulatory impact assessment as a standard operating procedure under the Ease of Doing Business law.

Philexport said that the increase is too onerous if the PPA imposes fees on overstaying containers for reasons beyond the shipper’s control, such as during the arming and disarming of E-TRACC devices on containers and downtime periods in the PPA’s IT.

Asked to comment, the PPA had not replied at the deadline.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hinchliffe said that the chamber is currently in the process of joining other business groups in preparing a position paper.

“I think the Joint Foreign Chambers will be sending out a statement,” he said.

Earlier this month, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines also opposed the increase in storage charges, noting that it will make the Philippines less competitive. — Justine Irish D. Tabile