American importers accuse shipping giants of profit

“When you say ‘What’s right?’, You have to ask a fundamental question,” said John Butler, president of the World Shipping Council, a Washington-based industry association. “Do you trust the market or do you trust the market only when it is a buyer’s market?”

But American importers, especially small and medium-sized businesses attacked by trade disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, accuse carriers of refusing to honor their contracts, denying them space on ships and prioritizing shipments for larger, more profitable customers. like Amazon and Walmart.

Mr. Delves’ company has contracts granting the rights to move 1,040 containers a year full of cabinets and home furnishings from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia to U.S. ports, at an average cost of $ 6,970 per shipment. , he has declared. But in the past year, carriers have only delivered 166 containers at the contracted rate.

Desperate to secure inventory, Delves resorted to an effective container bid, spending an average of about $ 15,000 per container on 355 shipments, while shelling out for “premium service” on another 163 cargoes at an average of. $ 22,500 each.

“The only thing they guarantee you premium and superpremium is that you are paying more for that container,” said Mr. Delves. “It does not guarantee that you will get a container, or it will board the ship.”

Frequently, carriers have refused to confirm bookings on specific container ships, citing lack of space, he said, even though his own questions to third-party shipping agents provide passage offers on the same vessels, at three or three rates. four times those in his contracts.

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