21 April 2022

Panama Canal Authority (ACP) publishes a proposal to modify the canal tolls system

ACP has just published a Proposal to Modify the Panama Canal Tolls System and the Regulations for the Admeasurement of Vessels.

The Panama Canal pricing strategy and its underlying toll and tariff structure have undergone numerous changes since the Canal began operations in 1914. The most significant of these changes began after the transition to Panamanian administration, which included a detailed segmentation, application of multiple billing units, dimensions, ranges, incentive programmes and even specifications by type of cargo carried. The current toll structure is characterised using price bands, which apply different rates to each additional level of cargo capacity of ships, which totals more than 400 toll rates.

This structure makes it difficult to set tolls according to the value provided for each type and size of the vessel, because the lower bands apply to subsequent capacity levels. In addition to toll rates, there are 144 rates related to the loyalty programme, 11 special rates for return trips and more than 90 rates for ships in ballast. Considering that the current toll structure has become overly complex and may lead to confusion and misinterpretations among different market segments and does not provide predictability to customers, in December 2021 the Panama Canal shared proposed price structure modifications with customer associations and maritime organisations that provided feedback. Based on this, the Canal proposes a simplified toll structure in the medium term that provides predictability to its customers, supports strategic objectives, and reflects the value of the route.

The proposal has been approved by the ACP Board of Directors and once the process is completed, the modifications will go into effect on 1st January 2023. The proposal establishes a simplified structure which provides price stability up to year 2025. There is a public consultation period which closes 17th May 2022 and the public hearing is scheduled for 20th May 2022.

More details available here