Changes To Container Detention Free Periods

The following information has been provided by the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia:


The decision of certain container shipping lines to reduce the free time available for import containers to be de-hired will increase international trade costs in Australia for both importers and exporters.

Effective from 1 August 2012, Maersk Line, ANL, CGM-CMA, and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Container Free Time and Container Detention Tariffs have changed, in most cases, the import container free time period has been reduced from ten (10) calendar days to seven (7) calendar days.

Stephen Morris, Executive Director, Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc. (CBFCA) said in a recent media release that if Australian port and supply chain efficiency met the benchmark of other global port and supply chains then such change may be acceptable. However it does not.

Considering the current mismatch of operating hours in the supply chain, container availability, customs and biosecurity interventions, the return of the empty container to a de-hire facility with limited operating hours will make it difficult to meet the seven calendar days.

As to the reason for change Maersk advised it was part of the Maersk global standards to bring Australia in line with the rest of the world.  What Maersk has failed to take into consideration in its global benchmark decision is that the port and supply chain efficiency in Australia is not at global best practice or standards.

It was also important to note that Maersk determined which Empty Container Parks (ECP) that would receive its containers in Australia and needed to ensure it played its part in improving efficiency as to availability of containers as well as ensuring operating hours at their ECP met industries, as well as Maersk’s needs.

As to the changes it was intriguing that the three carriers had opted for the same period of detention even though each would have a different business pattern and vessel operating schedules.

Maersk advised they are happy to discuss and negotiate with the concerned consignees on the bill of lading as part of the commercial contractual arrangements and members are encouraged to take up this offer.

As not all shipping lines have changed the rules it’s important to consider the potential additional costs of container detention when making a decision to ship with the Shipping Lines who have introduced these unrealistic container detention rules.

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