CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero FEBBRAIO 2020
CONTAINER LINES FACING PRESSURE OVER COMPLEX IMO 2020
Container lines are facing growing pressure to standardise
surcharges, which have become ever more complicated with the
introduction of IMO 2020, a report by Alix Partners highlights.
Long a source of dissatisfaction for shippers the bunker
adjustment factor (BAF) has become even more complex with the
introduction of IMO 2020 with each line having its own variation on
a basic formula covering a range of areas including fuel price, ship
size and trade.
"The lack of transparency and standardisation of those
variables is a constant irritant to shippers, freight forwarders,
and non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and gives rise to
the suspicion that some carriers are using the BAF as a
revenue-raising tool as well as a cost-recovery and risk-sharing
mechanism," the report said.
"The uncertainty can lead to fraught negotiations and
frayed relationships that take a toll on both sides and add to the
headwinds the container shipping industry faces as it sails into
what could be one of the most complex and consequential years in its
Alix Partners said that the negative perception was likely to
lead to new pressure for container lines to standardise pricing
formulas, including BAF, with a pressure campaign potential being
led by mega-shippers on the eastbound transpacific trade.
"Carriers could see their hard-fought financial gains of
recent years totally evaporate if they fail to control costs,
including how they manage fuel costs and customer expectations
around fuel costs," said Esben Christensen, global co-leader of
the transportation and infrastructure practice at AlixPartners and a
managing director at the firm.
The pressure of IMO 2020 is now being further compounded by the
influence of the coronavirus.
"IMO 2020 was already going to make this a year of huge
disruption for the entire maritime industry," said Marc
Iampieri, a managing director in the transportation and
infrastructure practice at AlixPartners. "Throw in the
coronavirus, the recent deterioration of some key financial measures
and whatever other unforeseen disruptions lie ahead, and it's clear
that preparing for the worst may be the best way to avoid the
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