Container Shipping Costs

Written by Yvette Dubel
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Worldwide trends in container shipping costs can be forecast by looking at one important shipping center: the Panama Canal. In 2005, there was a 37 percent increase in container shipping costs here, and this may indicate trends to come for other microcosms of the shipping business universe. Why the increase? It all started with shipping lines in the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA)--they are the ones who initiated an increase in surcharges. Interestingly, this increase correlates with a planned cost hike as part of reported plan to pay for the canal's expansion.

Changes in Container Shipping Costs--What Does It Mean for You?

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) recently announced it will be using a different method to calculate container shipping costs. This method is based on container weight added to a percentage of containers on the deck to those on a liner's packed container capacity. ACP will be increasing the basic per container shipping costs, as well as booking fees carriers shell out to reserve an assured time slot for transport.

Two additional increases are already planned for per container shipping costs in 2006 and 2007. Higher container shipping costs reflect the broader tendency of ports, railroads, and other supply chain partners to keep pushing for expanded port amenities (which all, of course, must be paid for somehow). Productivity upturns are expected to follow quickly after such amenities and expansions are added.

Quite often, port authorities can no longer spare the time, expense, or manpower to view a ship from end-to-end and inspect its system capacity (largely because of very tight supply chain schedules). Ultimately, companies will be left to devise strategies for survival despite whatever challenges arise from container shipping costs. One way to profit despite the increasing costs is to transport more containers per ship--fewer trips through a port or canal mean fewer delays, fewer inspections, fewer fees. Using specially designed software can help shippers configure the most effective pallet or fill container layouts, allowing them to transport a maximum of goods each trip.


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