The Barbados Manufacturing Association has warned that it will openly blacklist some shipping companies if they refuse to effect changes to their demurrage charges policy.
Executive director of the BMA, Bobbi McKay, told Barbados TODAY that while the association had been trying for years to iron out a number of issues related to the shipping of goods throughout the region, the latest issue involving demurrage charges has surfaced. She said some shipping lines were also charging a deposit, something BMA members did not agree with.
Demurrage generally refers to the charges that a charterer pays a shipping line for extra use of its vessel or container.
She said the association was currently doing some research with members to find out what shipping lines they dealt with and what other challenges they were having with them besides the demurrage charges.
“Right now there has been one shipping line that keeps coming up over and over again. So we are going to see who else are having those problems and we are actually going to start blacklisting these [shipping] lines openly and publicly,” she warned.
McKay said by mid-March the BMA would be sharing an update on the issue as well as “some success stories to openly celebrate”.
The BMA executive said before manufacturers even get their bill of lading some shipping companies were asking for a deposit upfront.
“One or two won’t even release the bill of lading unless you pay the deposit while you may never incur a demurrage . . . So we have a challenge with the demurrage deposits as well which we are working on,” added McKay.
She said shipping companies were also adding on “a peak season surcharge” every tourist winter season.
“Their justification is that they are delayed in getting their containers offloaded to get to the next country when we are busy with cruise ships. I can understand that point but it is another pain [for us],” she said.
Different shipping lines give manufacturers varying time frame in which to pay demurrage, often based on the volumes of cargo imported. Smaller companies are given an average of five to 11 days, while larger companies get a
On average, the BMA is able to get a container for a manufacturer in nine to 11 days. BMA members believe the time could be more considerate.
“The reason for that is that there are several different port agencies that have to inspect and be involved in the clearing of the container,” said McKay.
Other major challenges which BMA members continue to battle with include high costs associated with the clearing of goods, as well as a low number of shipping vessels. The BMA also wants improvements made to policies that govern cargo.
McKay said the association had been meeting regularly with stakeholders since the start of the year in order to iron out those issues in order to get more products out, especially in the region since it was “our breadbasket”.
If a local manufacturer missed a boat they could wait up to three weeks before they could get their goods shipped. And this, she said, was severely affecting businesses. And while the message is beginning to get across, McKay said the association had to continue its lobbying efforts.
She said the BMA’s biggest allies in the process have been the Barbados Port Authority and the Barbados Workers’ Union.
“More than 70 per cent of our products are shipped throughout the region . . . and there are about 77 small vessels, schooners, etcetera that ply their trade up and down the Caribbean and only three stop in Barbados,” said McKay.
The major reason more vessels do not stop in here is because of the high costs associated with the offloading of the vessels.