Importers aren't shifting U.S-bound containers through Canadian ports because they want to avoid paying the Harbor Maintenance Tax, according to the majority comments made in Federal Maritime Commission inquiry.
Since February the commission has been investigating what effect the HMT has on a shippers' decisions to land their cargo at U.S. ports, or move it into the U.S. by way of a Canadian port that collect no harbor tax. The investigation was spurred by complaints from West Coast ports and their congressional representatives.
FMC commenters said the HMT, a 0.125-percent tax on the value of imported cargo, played an insignificant role in shippers' choice of ports. More important was the two-day shorter transit times from Shanghai to Prince Rupert or Vancouver and to market, compared to a route via Seattle.
"I hope you realize it's not the taxes, it's the transit times. So unless you're going to change the curvature of the earth, I will continue to import my U.S. goods through the port of Prince Rupert," wrote Aron Finn, who identified himself only as "port user." Finn said the Canadian ports are "doing something better than us" by more efficient delivery to the U.S. market.
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