As reported late yesterday, carriers began announcing that they were postponing the Port Congestion Surcharge. We received confirmation today from all remaining carriers that had announced a PCS that they would be postponing the fee. The reason for the postponement is apparently due to intensive scrutiny from the FMC. The FMC sent out a notice on November 17th that they would be closely reviewing the application of the PCS.
The fact that the carriers have postponed the PCS gives a brief breather to importers who are now seeing their containers finish arriving at the peak of the shipping season. However importers and exporters should not assume that the PCS has gone away. From reports, carriers seem intent on finding a way to charge the PCS. Carriers are still sustaining losses due to the extreme congestion they are facing at U.S. West Coast ports. Whether it is through a formal PCS or a General Rate Increase, carriers are looking for ways to pass along the added operation cost that has resulted from the port congestion. In fact, two carriers (Matson and Wan Hai) have given specific dates (Dec.3 and Dec.18th respectively) for charging the PCS again. Those dates will apply based on discharge dates at the destination port. I would not be surprised if other carriers follow this lead and announce a PCS to be implemented sometime in mid-December.
In the meantime, terminals continue to operate slowly. One week away from the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no real timeline for improvement.
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