Panama Canal Delays Toll Increase for 3 Months on Complaints

The Panama Canal Authority said it will delay raising tolls on the waterway for three months after shipping companies objected to the increases.

Revised tolls for general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker and other categories of shipping will go into effect in October instead of July 1 “in response to industry requests,” the canal authority said in an e-mailed statement today. The authority will hold further consultations about the changes before submitting them for approval, it said.

The Panama Canal Authority, nearing completion of a $5.25 billion expansion to accommodate larger vessels, said it needs the higher fees to remain competitive. Ship owners representing 80 percent of the world’s fleet called for the delay, claiming that a 15 percent toll hike to navigate the waterway was “excessive” and likely to harm vessel owners, the International Chamber of Shipping said on May 25.

The U.S. is the waterway’s biggest user, comprising 65 percent of trade using the 80-kilometer (50-mile) canal that links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, followed by China.

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