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Letters: Monopoly in Pacific shipping lanes, Cooks operator claims

Tuesday 5 September 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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Letters: Monopoly in Pacific shipping lanes, Cooks operator claims

Dear Editor, Further to recent correspondence and comment in your newspaper regarding freight rates applicable to the shipping services operated between New Zealand and the Cook Islands by Matson, please be aware of the following:

  1. Matson as holder of CI International Shipping Approvals (ISAs) has in good faith and at all times maintained unchanged ocean freight rates, in accordance with the regulatory obligations (including consistent provision of regular, reliable, and safe shipping services) it has assumed to the CI Government.
  2. Matson has similarly maintained currency and bunker fuel adjustment factors (as explained in CI News, 26 Aug 23) in compliance with its ISA obligations, at levels significantly below equivalents charged in most other SW Pacific trades, and within the overall movements in NZD/USD exchange rates and fuels prices in the period for which those adjustments have applied.
  3. There have been discrete instances of additional force majeure charges outside the scope of the ISA-approved tariff, for significant economic changes beyond its control, which Matson has had to pass on to shippers - such as additional bunker sourcing costs brought about by new global regulatory emissions limits requiring  use of more expensive low sulphur fuels,and associated disruption to then fuel supply chains; recoveries for COVID-driven port congestion, causing ship delays, sometimes for days, at anchor outside Auckland; and a recent emergency BAF addressing the effects on bunker prices of the Ukraine war; but all have been removed as soon as the effects of the triggering events ceased. 
  4. Matson's unchanged ocean freight rates, unchanged CAFs and BAFs, and uninterrupted service in its NZ/CI trades throughout the COVID era significantly protected the Cook Islands market from the global spike in shipping costs.  Post-COVID, Matson hasn't reduced its ocean freight rates, because, as stated above, it never increased them in the first place. 

Nga mihi, John Gresson, Director, South Pacific, Matson.