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Containers at the port of NY and NJ face 'imbalance fee' as ports across the USA continue to battle congestion

Port of New York and New Jersey set to add penalties for carriers over increased numbers of dwelling containers

Following a year in which record volumes of containers have passed through its terminals, the Port of New York and New Jersey will be introducing long-dwell and ‘imbalance’ fees on both loaded and empty containers in response to a rise in container dwell times. The aim is for the tariffs to reduce long-dwelling containers and create space for container pickup across the terminals. The Port of NY and NJ has said that all proceeds from the fees will go to offsetting costs, including staff, of providing additional space and managing public safety.

The dwell-time tariff, penned to begin from September 2022 following a mandatory 30-day notice, will see carriers incur a quarterly ‘imbalance fee’ if their import or export containers are deemed to be long-dwelling, at a cost of $100 per container. 

In addition to the dwell-time tariff, mandatory new export levels have been set, with the port stating that export volumes must either equal or exceed 110% of the carrier’s inbound container volume for the same period. If the benchmark is missed, then carriers will face a penalty of $100 per container, however, rail volume is exempt from this surcharge.

With such high import volumes, the port is already using off-terminal storage for containers as it continues negotiations to acquire additional container storage space.

Billing and payment of Container Imbalance Fee

  • On a quarterly basis, not later than 45 days after the last day of any calendar quarter, the Port Authority shall issue an invoice to each Ocean Carrier detailing the quarterly Container Imbalance and corresponding charge for the immediately preceding quarter.
  • Within 30 days after the date of each invoice described in 2 (i.), each Ocean Carrier shall remit to the Port Authority the Container Imbalance Fee amount as set forth in such bill
  • In the event of non-payment of any Container Imbalance Fee by an Ocean Carrier for two consecutive quarters, the Port Authority shall be entitled to exercise any and all rights and remedies available to it by law and in equity and may consider non-payment as an element of the creditworthiness of the delinquent Ocean Carrier to continue to do business at Port.

All information regarding the new fees can be found on pages 57-58 here.

Congestion continues to create challenges for North American ports

Vessel backlogs across the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach may have begun to recede, however, congestion across many North American ports is still reaching record levels, seeing 153 vessels stuck in queues predominantly off of the East and Gulf Coast, an increase of 66% since the start of June.

The volume of traffic backing up outside of Savannah has increased by 123% compared to the previous quarter whilst container wait times at the Port of Oakland have grown to 26.5 days following the recent trucking protests.

The reason for the shift from West Coast congestion to East Coast is likely explained by an overcompensation following the previous record-high congestion levels in addition to labour fears across West Coast ports as a result of strikes and ongoing contract negotiations.

If you have any questions about your North American shipments please contact our team here.

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