Port Authorities

The pro forma should also clearly show the fee the agent proposes to charge for his services.  If the agent is one that you regularly use, this will probably have been agreed well in advance.  Most agency associations publish a scale of agency charges for their members and the ship manager should be familiar with those countries where the scale provides a convenient basis for negotiations and those where the scale is mandatory and is supported by the government.  In some countries the publication of agency fee scales is illegal under anti-trust or fair competition regulations.  Whatever is the case it is important to have the fee agreed before the event rather than have arguments afterwards. There is, incidentally, nothing especially clever about driving an extremely hard bargain with a port agent.  As with all things in this world you get what you pay for and the difference between an enthusiastic service and something just barely enough to get by may be difficult to define but can make a great deal of difference. An enthusiastic agent could fight tooth and nail to get the ship finished and away tonight, a disgruntled one may assure you he has done all possible but the ship has lost twelve hours which can cost far more than was saved in hard bargaining. On receiving the pro forma which will reach you by telex or fax, you will be asked for funds in advance.  This is accepted as customary practice by both agents’ and shipowners’ associations because it would be quite impossible for any agent to finance all the ships calling to their agency.  Many of the items, especially the large amounts under the port charges heading have to be paid in advance otherwise the authorities will not let the vessel sail so that seeking advance funding is not just a scheme by agents to earn interest on their principal’s money.