The British International Freight Association (BIFA), the trade association for UK freight forwarding and logistics companies, has criticised the move by some shipping lines, including Maersk, to increase surcharges ahead of the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) 2020 sulphur regulations.
The comments come after Maersk announced plans to introduce a new bunker adjustment factor (BAF) on January 1, 2019, a full year before the IMO's rules, that prohibit ships from emitting more than 0.5% of sulphur.
According to Maersk, the new surcharges could raise the price of shipping a 40 ft container on the Far East to North Europe route increasing by as much as USD $840, depending on fuel prices.
Commenting on the new charges, Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, said: “By any measure, these are very major increases, and they will be received negatively by BIFA members’ customers.
“While the shipping operators may say that the new BAFs are needed to cover the cost of switching to low sulphur fuels or fitting exhaust ‘scrubbers’, rises of this magnitude are unjustified and could be construed as blatant profiteering by shipping lines determined to exploit the situation.
“BIFA members are now faced with the task of explaining yet another surcharge to their customers, and what the rationale behind it is. The sulphur surcharge is bound to be extremely unpopular.
“Sometimes there is an unfair perception that our members are to blame.”