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Panama Canal delays toll hike

July 2 - The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has published a revised tolls proposal that defers the implementation date of new Canal tolls to October 2012 and October 2013.

The modification proposal acknowledges the importance of preserving the Canal's competitiveness and value to the market, provides additional time to the industry to make pertinent pricing adjustments, while always considering the Authority's interests.

The ACP announced in April its intention to adjust tolls to bring them closer to the value of the route for certain market segments, to redefine some segments and to adjust minimum tolls.

After a 30-day public consultation period, the ACP conducted a hearing on May 23. The April proposal has been slightly modified and implementation of the new charges has been postponed from July 2012 to October 2012, giving the industry additional lead time before implementation of the new tolls as well as providing an additional three months before the second step of increase in 2013. In addition, the revised proposal eliminates the proposed container/breakbulk segment. Container/breakbulk vessels will continue to be classified as part of the segment known as others.

The revised tolls adjustment will apply only to the following market segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro and the segment known as others.

Due to this modification, the ACP has reopened the issue for public comment and will consider additional input, suggestions and feedback from interested parties over the fortnight.

After receiving comments and feedback from the maritime and shipping industry during its official consultation period, the ACP responded to industry requests by modifying the proposal and postponing implementation of the new pricing.

"The Panama Canal is the only organisation in the shipping industry that consults with customers and interested parties prior to implementing any modification to its pricing structure. This open and transparent process has given the ACP an opportunity to listen to the needs of its customers and to adjust its proposal accordingly," said ACP administrator/ceo Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

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