Australian Businesses must get advice before paying ‘Priority Shipping Fees’ which have been introduced by shipping companies

As much as I’d like to be talking to you about settling into a calm ‘new normal’ in the world of the international shipping industry, sadly the only thing we can predict is how unpredictable things will be!

As ports around the world continue to grapple with quarantines, working from home and shutdowns, the delays which we’ve been experiencing for many months now are to some degree inevitable.

While we’re living a relatively COVID-free existence here in Australia, most countries around the world are still very much facing a live situation.

We get a false sense of security here in Australia because we’re predominantly out of lockdowns, but in other ports, they are still dealing with staff working from home and sanitation issues, so the usual procedures are still compromised.

Container shortages experienced in 2020 are still a major issue facing importers and exporters around the world.

These shortages are impacting industries across the board Taking Malaysia as an example, the world’s biggest manufacturer of medical gloves. Although the shortage has eased slightly, exporters were still facing delays of up to five weeks to get products where they needed to be.

And in Malaysia, like the majority of other countries, more boxes don’t necessarily mean more spots on vessels for those boxes.

The trap for Australian importers and businesses – and one I think it’s important to warn you about – is the lack of space on vessels isn’t stopping some lines from offering what they’re calling ‘sea priority fees’.

What exactly is a ‘sea priority fee’? Well let’s look at it like this.

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’.

Sounds good right? Well sure, in theory it’s good. But just because you’ve paid the money doesn’t actually mean the shipping lines can guarantee you that time frame.

You’re still beholden to how quickly they can move things around, whatever room they have available and what terms and conditions you’ve signed up to.

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.

Australian businesses need to understand delays in international shipping are still suffering the hangover from 2020 and consider the reality of the situation before parting with more money.

Read more here.