Shippers, carriers brace for new Russian port fee

The Russian government said the new fee at ports like St. Petersburg (above) should raise $100 million to $150 million each year for port infrastructure funding.

Cargo owners and carriers moving goods through Russian ports are bracing for a new government-imposed fee that will hike container shipping costs between 2 percent to 4 percent.

The Russian government said the new fee is designed to raise 6 to 8 billion rubles ($100 million to $150 million) annually for port infrastructure funding. An implementation date for the fee has not been disclosed, but it will go into effect before the end of this year.

The exact fee that will be charged at each Russian port has yet to be formally set by the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS). The precise calculation will be determined based on the specific services provided at the port, such as loading and unloading, which in most Russian seaports costs in the range of $100 to $150 per TEU. The fee will mostly apply to container ships entering and leaving Russian seaports.

Andrey Razbrodin, president of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs of Textile and Light Industry, told the new fee may have a negative effect on domestic shippers who specialize in imports of textiles to local markets.

Razbrodin said textile and clothing imports to Russia last year amounted to $14.5 billion; most are traditionally sourced from China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries by waterborne transport.

“Shipowners will try to compensate it by increasing rates for loading and unloading, storage and cargo handling,” he said. “Therefore, the load for the entire business, associated with foreign trade in Russia, will significantly increase.”

Representatives of leading Russian transport companies told the new fee will lead to a significant increase in costs for shippers.

Ivan Grishagin, general director of JSC Russian Container Company, said the fee will result in “an increase in the cost of services in the entire multimodal logistics chain in Russia and primarily for shippers.”

Grishagin predicts some shippers will be forced to reconsider sea routes in favor of rail transportation, despite the high cost to redirect from sea to rail. But the Russian government, he said, would welcome additional volumes on rail, given the state’s ownership interest in the Russia-Asia Pacific rail network.

He said the new Russian fee may benefit competing ports in other countries, such as the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Chornomorsk and Odessa and the Caspian Sea port of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, as shippers look to alternatives to avoid the extra costs. >

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