Foreign shipping lines accused of ripping off Vietnamese exporters

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association and non-member Hanoi Industrial Textile JSC have filed a complaint claiming that shipping lines from China, South Korea and Taiwan were ripping them off with an unfair surcharge - Container Imbalance Charge (CIC), which is meant to offset shipping lines’ costs of transferring empty containers from one place to another, and to pay the surcharge all year round.

Dang Cong Hoang, representative of Hanoi Industrial Textile, said many shipping lines charged businesses up to US$160 per 20-feet container, much higher than the average of $30 found by inspectors in 2014.

CIC payments make up a considerable portion of transport costs, which in turn account for up to 60 percent of all business costs in Vietnam, according to the textile association.

An inspection by the Ministry of Finance in 2014 found 20 foreign companies that dominated the logistics market collecting nearly 70 kinds of surcharges, many of which were either debatable or unreasonably high.

Some 40 foreign shipping lines are operating in Vietnam, handling around 88 percent of all cargo, according to official figures. They account for nearly all shipments from and to Europe and the US.

(Hellenic Shipping News)