The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) has expressed its determination to negotiate for competitive and better freight rates for 2020/2021 Shipments of Ghana’s cocoa to the international markets.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, Benonita Bismarck, gave the assurance on Thursday, September 24, during the 2020/2021 Cocoa Freight Negotiations conference in Accra.
The Cocoa Freight Negotiations conference is an annual event organized for players in the industry. This is the second time the conference is taking place in Ghana.
It has brought together key stakeholders including the GSA, Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), shipping lines, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA), Ship Owners and Agents Association, Marine insurance brokers and marine cargo surveyors, among others.
In a remark at the opening of the conference, Madam Bismarck said the stakeholders would be considering some factors such as global Freight and Bunker rates before fixing cocoa freight rates that would be mutually acceptable by all.
According to her, some shipping lines had since submitted their proposals on the cocoa freight rates. She emphasized that there is still the need for one-on-one dialogues to ensure that the freight rates were not only competitive but of national interest.
“We shall ensure a cost-effective way to buy and ship Ghana’s cocoa and shipping lines are obliged to comply by the freight rates when we agree on it,” she stated.
She told Journalists the widespread of the deadly Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had significantly affected shipping business activities with bunker prices slightly lower and freight rates stable.
Madam Bismarck said the giver through the Ministry of Transport had brought up an appeal to shipping lines to waive off demurrage charges, which were agreed by the shipping lines as part of mitigating the economic burden of importers.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Cocoa Marketing Company, Vincent Okyere Akomea, said the freight negotiations provide the necessary opportunity for all stakeholders in the shipping industry to improve upon their business relationships for mutual interest.
He highlighted some of the statistics on tonnes of cocoa beans ferried from the various terminals across the country last year as well as some of the difficulties that need amicable resolution.
Akomea said for instance that during the 2019/2020 cocoa season, about 500,000 tonnes of cocoa were shipped, of which 52% were from Takoradi, 42% from Tema and six per cent from Kumasi.
The MD of CMC said notwithstanding the quantum of cocoa shipped from the Western Region, only a few container shipping vessels loaded cocoa beans from the region. He encouraged more shipping lines to extend their services to the region.
He, however, attributed some of the challenges to delays in the expected time of arrival of vessels, inadequate containers to stuff cocoa from some terminals, and the delays in releasing bills of laden. He called for collective efforts to resolve those challenges.
Mr Akomea also expressed optimism that Ghana’s cocoa export would increase from 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes within this year as almost all cocoa terminals in the country have been equipped with Reach Stackers and forklifts to facilitate effective operations.
In his considered view, an “all-inclusive” freight rates would compensate for the challenges identified and boost the country’s cocoa export.
Filhet-Allard Maritime and Partners – a maritime insurance broker took participants through maritime insurance via Zoom while promising to support cocoa production and processing in Ghana.
The rates and the conditions of shipment agreed for the 2019/2020 season have been maintained for the 2020/2021 season.
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By Felix Nyaaba || ghananewsonline.com.gh