Vietnamese port authority says terminal fees legitimate

By VnExpress   February 22, 2017 | 08:11 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese port authority says terminal fees legitimate
Hai Phong Port, the country's second largest, has started collecting money for infrastructure upgrade, a move many call unfair. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Chinh

The Hai Phong government said its sea port fees are still lower than those at other terminals.

The terminal fee imposed recently by Hai Phong authorities in Vietnam's northern port city is legitimate, given significant investments to increase cargo-handling capacity, the city's government said.

The decision to impose the infrastructure fee on January 3, 2017, has been made after consultation with other terminal operators, export and import businesses, and shipping companies, the Hai Phong People's Committee said in a statement.

Many Japanese companies have complained that the massive and sudden fee hikes at Hai Phong port could raise their costs of doing business, the Japan External Trade Organization, or Jetro, said at a meeting Monday in Hanoi. An infrastructure fee of VND500,000 ($22) is too high, a Jetro representative said.

But the city government said its port fees were just 50-62.5 percent of those currently charged in the northern border province of Lao Cai, the statement said.

Hai Phong is now the first location in Vietnam to have imposed sea port fees. The port, some 100km (62 miles) southeast of Hanoi, is the country's second biggest facility after Saigon Port, handling more than a third of the country’s total cargo throughput.

Many businesses said the fee hike has entailed more paperwork, forcing them to spend two to three hours more on average for customs clearance. The Hai Phong government said it takes about three minutes to collect additional charges and denied traffic congestion problems at the port.

The marine terminal handled 80.2 million tons of cargo last year, five times higher than the total cargo in 2015, the city’s government said, adding that growing traffic at the port was raising pressure on the city’s infrastructure.

Higher port fees could drive away shipping companies to nearby sea ports, such as the Cai Lan Port in Quang Ninh Province, said chairman Tran Duc Minh of the Vietnam Shipping Association.

Businesses have sought government intervention to lower the fees. A decision is expected late this month.

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