Panama Canal toll restructure receives governmental approval

Panama City, Republic of Panama - January 16, 2022: The ship passes the Panama Canal.

The Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama has approved a new toll structure for the Panama Canal which will be applied from January 2023.

Panama Canal Authority (PCA) said the new structure will assume a simplified, value-based pricing structure, reducing the number of tariffs from 430 to fewer than 60.

On transits of vessels in ballast condition for all market segments except for containerships, tolls will be calculated by applying 85 per cent of the laden toll instead of the originally proposed 9 per cent.

On containerships, the charge for empty containers will be reduced to $2/TEU in 2023, $4/TEU in 2024, and $6/TEU in 2025, instead of the $5, $6.50, and $8 that were initially proposed for each year, respectively.

All other tariffs will be implemented gradually from January 2023 to January 2025 at the originally proposed levels, including the proposed modifications to the loyalty program for containerships, which will be phased out by January 2025.

Incentives for return voyages applicable to containerships and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels will be eliminated by January 2023 when the new structure comes into effect.

“The proposal aims to strengthen the tolls structure in a way that is consistent with the value provided by the Canal transit service while providing greater visibility and predictability to customers,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales.

The tolls proposal was issued on 1 April 2022 and went through a formal consultation period during which 17 interested parties submitted their comments or opinions in writing.

The public hearing was held in Panama on 20 May 2022 with the participation of seven parties, representing local and international customers.

The visibility charge currently applied to full container vessels, and classified as Other Marine Services, will be eliminated prior to the implementation of the new tolls to avoid an overlap with the Total TEU capacity (TTA) charge.

In June 2021 the PCA increased its waterway’s maximum allowable length for commercial and non-commercial vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks.

The PCA said the maximum length overall (LOA) for regular transits of the Neopanamax Locks is 370.33 metres, an increase from 367.28 metres.

The increase means that now 96.8 per cent of the world’s fleet of containerships can transit the Panama Canal, shortening routes and benefiting economies around the world.  

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