Aussie Importers Out of the Fire and Into the Furnace
(01 March 2021 – Australia) Australian importers have been firmly forewarned by EES Shipping against incurring a prohibitive ‘priority fee’ offered by shipping companies currently compounding record high container and merchandise shipping costs.
Delays that critically hampered the seaborne freight industry last year appear set to continue into H2 2021 as Australian consumers show no sign of scaling back online retail purchases. The cost of getting a container into Australia has quadrupled to over US$5000 in some instances with some shipping companies now offering a priority fee of up to US$700 on top of that for timely delivery.
Although Australia is a major exporter of raw materials, a slew of empty containers are stuck on the docks after the nation’s spending spree on home entertainment, office electronics, furniture, home improvement products, and leisure and exercise equipment. Even with so many empty containers, the Australian exporters who use them are finding it harder to get product into new trade corridors in response to Chinese tariffs and trade restrictions on an increasing array of Australian goods.
“We’re now getting clients who are keen to pay what some shipping lines are calling a ‘sea priority fee’ of about US$700 and we’re not sure it’s the best option for speeding up the process. You as the customer may get told ‘If you don’t pay this fee your next possible sailing is in five weeks but if you pay this fee, you’ll probably get it in the next two weeks’” stated EES Shipping Director, Brian Hack
“So the shipping lines get paid more money to get things on to vessels more quickly, but they can’t even keep up with that. Shipping lines can’t just magic vessels or containers out of nowhere, so if you’re being asked to pay this fee it’s important to get advice as to whether what they’re offering is realistic” Mr Hack added.