Import and export trade – Are bogus surcharges resurfacing?

It is evident by the recent press articles that, some elements are trying to influence the authorities to reintroduce TCH and other surcharges, which will render the Import /Export trade very uncompetitive.

Back in time, It was the EASL, which was led by the late Mr. Lyn Fernando, the then Chairman who boldly took up this uncompetitive issue head on and the trade was subsequently benefited with the removal of the above surcharges and this historical gazette notification came in to effect back in December 27, 2013. Prohibiting this levy as a separate fee paved way for the importers and exporters to be charged an all inclusive freight rate.

The ratification of the above legislature brought much praise and honor to the Trade practice of our Country and Sri Lanka’s good practices were heralded in several internationally recognized forums as a model to be emulated by other countries. Amongst several of those world-famous Trade bodies were the Global shipper’s forum who even had its Annual General meeting in Sri Lanka in August 2016.

Certain African countries such as Nigeria also confirmed of having followed the Sri Lankan recommendations to have a clear interpretation on Surcharges such as the THC to be in line with the internationally famous tradeterms that are released by the International Chamber of Commerce-ICC’s latest update of INCO terms.

The new rules brought in clarity where Shipping Agents, NVOCC operators, Consolidators etc. were no longer in a position to impose arbitrary charges and burden Importers and exporters with unnecessary additional costs making the trade uncompetitive.

Prior to the new legislature coming in to effect, it was a known fact that some agents were even found guilty of violating exchange control regulations, where much needed foreign exchange was lost due to illegal remittances.

Therefore it must be stated that the argument raised by the Shipping Agents, NVOCC operators and Consolidators that it is an unfair ruling is baseless and absurd. This rather brings all service providers to maintain transparency in their pricing and gives them the freedom to offer any price they so wish, as long as they quote an all-inclusive price without any hidden cost.

If these surcharges are reintroduced, it will work against the new path set by the government to boost International trade and rapidly build Sri Lanka’s economy to a competitive level in comparison to other developing countries in the region.

The EASL is confident that his Excellency the President, Hon Prime Minister and the Government will not be approachable to be either misinformed, mislead or influenced to revoke any decision that has been a land mark ruling and a success story for this Country. (EXPORTERS’ ASSOCIATION OF SRI LANKA)