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Panama Canal tolls structure modifications approved

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LNG Industry,

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced that its proposal to modify its toll structure has been officially approved by the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama.

The Authority claims that the modification will help to better facilitate its aim of providing excellent service and reliability to the global shipping and maritime community, whilst allowing ACP to safeguard the canal’s competitiveness.

For the containership segment, the approved tolls structure offers more attractive rates per loaded containers on the return voyage, applicable only to Neopanamax vessels deployed on the Canal route in the head and back haul legs, and when: the utilisation rate of the northbound transit is higher or equal to 70%; and the time lapse between the northbound and the southbound transit is not longer than 28 days. To encourage use of the services provided within Panama's logistics hub, any extra days that the vessel needs to carry out port-related activities in the Panamanian terminals will not be added to the 28-day period. Originally, ACP's tolls proposal established 25 days as the maximum time lapse for the return voyage. After evaluating the comments received over the course of the consultation period, a decision was made to extend this time frame to 28 days.

In addition to this, the new structure modifies the tolls charged to both LNG and LPG vessels, which will be set at the levels presented in the original tolls proposal. This decision was made after thorough analysis of the impact of the proposed increases in the supply chain and final user.

Finally, ACP claims that container/breakbulk vessels – formerly part of the others market segment – will be reclassified into the general cargo segment, therefore resulting in more attractive tariffs for customers in this category.

The proposed tolls modifications were originally announced on 1 June 2017, followed by a consultation period in order to ensure that all interested parties were able to provide feedback. Following this, on 5 July, the Authority held a public hearing to discuss the proposal. Here, ACP received written comments from 12 representatives and associations, shipping lines and shippers. All of these comments were then evaluated and analysed. The approved modifications are scheduled to go into effect on 1 October 2017, at the beginning of the canal’s fiscal year.

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