Monday, December 19, 2011

Cocoa Container Ships Bring Good News to the Port of Amsterdam

Dutch Increase Trade Despite Ghana FOB Charges Problem
Shipping News Feature

NETHERLANDS – GHANA – WEST AFRICA – Troubles in Ghana haven’t worried the Port of Amsterdam this month whose cooperation with container and stevedoring specialists Ter Haak has produced excellent results for both, with freight flooding into Europe’s fourth largest port in the form of cocoa beans now that a trio of shipping lines have chosen to use the facilities there as a hub for their West African trade.

The West Africa ARN service of Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), the NAF service of Zim and the WAX service of Hapag Lloyd are set to call at the port and during the peak of the cocoa season the container services will make their way to Amsterdam, unloading at the United Stevedores Amsterdam terminal (a subsidiary of the Ter Haak Group).

The three shipping groups routing includes: Dakar (Senegal), Tin Can Island (Nigeria), Tema (Ghana), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), San Pedro (Ivory Coast), Antwerp (Belgium), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Hamburg (Germany) and Thamesport (United Kingdom). The first scheduled vessel, the Buxsailor (Zim), will call at the USA terminal on December 26th and the news comes despite reported problems in Ghana over export charges.

Ghana is the world’s second biggest producer of cocoa after the Ivory Coast but last week Safmarine suspended collections fro the country whilst Maersk and CMA CGM were also reported as refusing to pay the dock charges being imposed by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority saying R.H. & D costs are an FOB charge with any responsibility laying with the shipper. For their part a spokesman in Tema for the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority said the charges were ‘agreed to in Amsterdam in September’. The charge per TEU is said to be around $47.50 and the shipping lines apparently see it as simply a way of passing off an increase and an easy way of collecting FOB charges for the port authority.

Cocoa prices dropped sharply this year following a poor crop in 2010 which pushed prices to their highest point in more than three decades but high rainfall, political changes and the economic situation in Europe and the US which has led to lower chocolate consumption has seen a collapse of around 30%.

In other news the Dutch port authorities this week launched the Port of Amsterdam iamPort App to enable anyone to track vessel movements on their smart phones. In the App you will find information on arrivals and departures, size, draft and berth of each ship in the port and it is free to download HERE.