Seaport infrastructure fees will drain us, say HCMC firms

By Thi Ha   June 20, 2021 | 04:03 pm PT
Seaport infrastructure fees will drain us, say HCMC firms
Cargo containers at Cat Lai Port in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Many HCMC enterprises already hit by Covid-19 pandemic say paying seaport infrastructure fees will stretch them beyond the limit.

Firms with big shipments have said that the fee collection will increase operating costs, and lower their products’ competitiveness in export markets.

"Every month, we export some 150 containers of products and import the same number of containers of materials. If seaport infrastructure fees are collected, it will cost us billions of dong," Duong Khue, general director of textile producer Phong Phu Corporation, told VnExpress.

The municipal Department of Transport has collected seaport infrastructure fees on a trial basis since June 15, and will officially collect them from July 1.

Accordingly, enterprises will have to pay VND15,000-4,400,000 ($0.65-190.67) per ton of cargo depending on the type of cargo and container.

The HCMC administration has affirmed that the seaport infrastructure fees will be used to build bridges and upgrade major roads near seaports to reduce traffic congestion and facilitate cargo transport.

Most Vietnamese textile and garment enterprises take outsourced orders from foreign companies, so the prices of finished products are fixed, and they cannot change the prices, he noted.

"If HCMC is determined to collect seaport infrastructure fees from July 1 as planned, materials suppliers have said they will add this fee to prices of materials sold to us. Production costs will surge," said Vu Huy Quang, export director of food processor Saigon Food Joint Stock Company which imports and exports around 180 containers of goods via the Cat Lai Port in the city each month.

His company can’t increase selling prices, thus its operations will be heavily affected. The outbreak has already made prices of input materials increase 20-30 percent, he added.

Woodwork, seafood, cashew and coffee processors and exporters have also said that the fee collection will blunt their competitive edge, while competitors from China, India, Thailand and other foreign countries are selling at competitive prices thanks to government support.

Most enterprises have proposed that HCMC not collect the seaport infrastructure fees this year.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporter and Producers (VASEP) said the fee collection is irrational because enterprises currently pay too many different kinds of fees, and most of seafood firms will have to pay the seaport infrastructure fee twice, for both containers of imported materials and exported products. Over 70 percent of seafood imports and exports go through seaports in HCMC, VASEP noted.

It is a fact that Vietnam’s logistics costs have been higher than in other countries in the region for years, and adding seaport infrastructure fees to this will diminish enterprises’ competitiveness, while they are already facing difficulties due to Covid-19, said local economist Dinh The Hien. He proposed that the fees should not be collected.

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