Foreign companies cry out over new fees at Vietnamese port

By Doan Loan   February 13, 2017 | 11:18 pm PT
Foreign companies cry out over new fees at Vietnamese port
Hai Phong Port is Vietnam’s second largest sea port, accounting for more than a third of the country’s total cargo throughput. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa
Hai Phong Port, the country's second largest, has started collecting money for infrastructure upgrade, a move many call unfair.

Japanese companies have complained that new infrastructure fees imposed on containers moving through Hai Phong Port are too high and confusing.

According to the Japan External Trade Organization, or Jetro, the fees at the country's second biggest sea port could increase the cost of doing business. Hai Phong Port now accounts for more than a third of Vietnam’s total cargo throughput, second to Saigon New Port.

The new fees range from around $11 per 20-cubic-foot container for regular goods, to up to $100 per container for goods temporarily imported for re-export, a Jetro representative told a meeting in Hanoi on Monday.

The surcharges, which cannot be found anywhere else in the country, will be used for the upgrade of the port’s infrastructure, according to Jetro.

“As far as international norms go, they must invest in the infrastructure first, and then they can increase their fees," the representative said. “Many Japanese companies are confused about what is going on."

Businesses have warned that higher port fees could drive away shipping companies to Thailand’s sea ports, urging transport authorities to review the new fees in Hai Phong.

Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy, senior official at the Vietnam Private Sector Forum (VPSF), said apart from higher costs, the new fees also result in more paperwork that can require an extra two to three hours to finish.

"This has made customs clearance half a day longer than it was before. It’s going against the efforts to improve business environment,” said Thuy.

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