THE GLOBAL Shippers’ Forum has called on shippers to be wary of new surcharges and additional costs attributed to the closure of the Suez Canal after the grounding of Ever Given.

GSF said many goods will be spoilt or unsaleable by the time they are delivered and expectations of supplementary payments and surcharges by carriers for late delivery should be challenged.

GSF secretary general James Hookham said some shipping lines are already predicting an increase in spot rates and surcharges due to the disruption.  

“GSF is warning shippers to be wary of this signalling of future prices and of demands for new surcharges,” he said. 

“This incident was not our fault and the reasons why customers should be expected to pay extra, on top of record shipping rates for goods delivered late and for reasons ultimately of the industry’s own making should be challenged. The shipping industry is reminded that Suez is a canal in Egypt, not an excuse to price-gouge your customers”. 

The GSF also called for prompt announcements of revised port calls and arrival dates to allow importers to manage inventories and plan container collection. 

Mr Hookham said: “Shippers will be preparing for the arrival of their delayed and diverted cargoes and for that they need prompt, comprehensive and frequently updated details about which vessels will be calling at what ports and on what dates. Some lines are excellent at doing this, others less so.”  

The GSF also said there is a need for an independent, international inquiry to establish the circumstances of the incident and identify measures ultra large container carriers can take in the future to avoid a similar situation. 

Mr Hookham said the vulnerability of this ultra-critical trade artery has been revealed and it is vital that the reasons why it was blocked are understood and shred. 

“In particular, was this a one-off accident or has it revealed inherent issues with the navigation of these very large vessels in confined waterways?” he asked. 

“The whole world will be affected by the closure and we are all owed an honest and convincing explanation.” 

Finally, Mr Hookham said it is a great relief to see the ship moving. 

“The salvage teams are heroes and we thank them for their achievement and applaud their tenacity. At last, 12% of global trade can move freely again,” he said.