28 May 2010

Importers Call for World-wide Boycott of Maersk

Maersk, one of the world's largest shipping companies, announced that it will no longer carry frozen orange roughy fish on its ships.

The shipping line's New Zealand manager, Julian Bevis, said the decision had been made in line with the company's sustainability policy.

Owen Symmans, chief executive of the Seafood Industry Council, said Maersk had turned its back on New Zealand's fifth-largest exporter.

The New Zealand office of Greenpeace described the decision as "earth shattering" and demanded an end to the trade in bluefin tuna.

Greenpeace New Zealand is campaigning against what it describes as "Fonterra's climate crimes". Fonterra is New Zealand's largest exporter of milk products and, at this stage, it is not clear if it too will be affected by Maersk's sustainability policy.

Orange roughy exports were worth $51 million last year. Gavin Lockwood, deputy chief executive of the Fisheries Ministry, said New Zealand fish stocks were sustainably managed.

Daniel Silva, secretary of the New Zealand Importers Institute, called today for a world-wide boycott of Maersk. "Maersk are not right to destroy a legitimate trade just to make their Danish owners feel morally superior. What comes next, a ban on carrying Palmolive soap to save the orang-utan, or an exit from New Zealand to punish our dairy farmers for their 'climate crimes'?", he asked.

Silva said that importers and exporters need to make it very clear to companies like Maersk that their livelihoods are not to be traded for cheap publicity stunts like this. He urged all Importers Institute members and their suppliers and clients throughout the world to boycott Maersk, until the company reverses this decision and apologises.

Update: Maersk have reversed their decision, but are yet to aplogise.

03 May 2010

The China Surcharge

One of our members imported a couple of shipments from Xingang in China. The freight was prepaid by the supplier in China, but the New Zealand forwarder billed the importer $1,400 for a "China surcharge" and $1,800 for "overseas shipping".

The importer queried these charges, but the local forwarder (a P&O subsidiary) dismissed the inquiry saying that the charges were their standard tariff prices. The importer went back and asked just what exactly is a "China surcharge" and why was he being charged for "overseas shipping" when the freight had already been paid in China.

The forwarder replied by saying that they were just billing what their Chinese principal had asked them to collect. Delivery was refused until the bill was paid in full. The importer paid the charges and then referred the matter to the Disputes Tribunal. As soon as a hearing date was set, the forwarder decided to refund the disputed charges, in full.

Creative invoicing by some forwarders is nothing new and that is why we always advise our members to nominate their own forwarders - regardless of where the freight is paid. Importers should get written quotes for all charges, including "Port Service Charges", these days a significant revenue item for forwarders that has little to do with actual port costs.