Panama Canal Proposes July Toll Hikes

Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association 2012-04-24

The Panama Canal Authority board of directors late Friday approved a proposal to raise tolls on multiple vessel types, including container ships, in stages over the next two summers reports the Journal of Commerce. If approved, the proposal, which was issued late Friday afternoon, would increase tolls on laden container ships by 15.45 percent in the two stages to an average of $5.23 per PC/UMS ton (Panama Canal Universal Measurement System) from the current average of $4.53.

The proposal would also modify the canal’s pricing structure to align canal toll charges with what the Canal Authority calls “the value the route provides. The proposal, which details the toll increases for eight different vessel segments, both those laden and those in ballast, is available at

The Canal Authority Administrator has made no secret of the fact the tolls would increase over time to help finance the $5.25 billion construction on the third set of much larger locks to be completed by 2015. But he also has made it clear the toll increases cannot be too big, because the canal competes with other routes, including the Suez Canal and the intermodal land bridge from the West Coast to the interior and eastern U.S.

The proposal increases the number of vessel segments from eight to 11 by Panama Canal vessel type. It would establish a new segment for container/breakbulk vessels. It also breaks down the tanker segment into three distinct segments and incorporates roll-on, roll-off vessels into the vehicle carrier segment. Once approved, the Panama Canal’s new market structure would include the following segments: full container; reefer; dry bulk; passenger; vehicle carrier and ro-ro; tanker; chemical tanker; LPG; general cargo and others.

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