BIMCO

Port restrictions are not necessarily only dimensional. The hours that ships are “worked” by port labour, holidays, etc. all need consideration. BIMCO (The Baltic and International Maritime Council) publish an annual “Holiday Calendar” listing worldwide national and local holidays and port working hours – a valuable tool in any shipping office. Port costs also vary widely. The charges in some ports are subsidised in order to attract business, whilst others have to be self-supporting and profitable. The costs vary enormously, often not only between adjacent countries, but between ports in the same country. As the reader can see, quite a disparity. The secret, of course, of avoiding unpleasant surprises is to check before fixing. One means is from reference books, such as produced by BIMCO and others. Alternatively, and the means favoured by many in the industry, via a local port agent. Apart from port costs, another charge that might be encountered is that of freight taxes. These can be extremely high – Syria imposes something like 13% of freight, Turkey not far behind at over 10%. These are imposed on the recipient of the freight – not the organisation paying, although it may be deducted at source by local law. To complicate matters, there are bilateral agreements between nations over the imposition of freight taxes so that not all ship owners/operators are required to pay, or need to pay only a part of the total cost to the ships of “non-approved nations”. Most freight taxes are imposed against the vessel’s flag, but some against the nation of the recipient of the freight – i.e. perhaps a disponent owner in the case of a time-chartered vessel. As for port costs, forewarned is forearmed and allowance for this deduction can be included in the costing of the exercise when considering the business. BIMCO again publish a useful aid – an annual book on worldwide freight taxes and exemptions therefrom. Otherwise it is another message to the local port agent.