The 2020/2021 edition of the Annual Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference has been held in Ghana to enable stakeholders agree on freight rates and conditions for the shipment of cocoa to destinations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, among others for the coming season.
The conference, which was the 2nd of its kind being held in Ghana since the formal collaboration between the Cocoa Marketing Company Ltd and the Ghana Shippers Authority, this year, brought together Shipping Lines, Shipping Agents as well as other allied stakeholder agencies.
The Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) and the 24 shipping lines operating in the country resolved to maintain the existing freight rates for cocoa shipments for the 2020/2021 cocoa season.
This means, calculated per tonne, shipping Cocoa to their various marketing destinations across the world remains unchanged at the existing rates of £30 to the United Kingdom (UK); €49 to the Northern Continent; €56 to Estonia; €55 to Mediterranean Europe; US$94 to the Far East and US$103 to Brazil.
The bunker adjustment factor (BAF) was equally maintained at 27 percent for all destinations but for the UK, which was reduced to 25 percent.
The rates were arrived at after extensive negotiations on the future of the sector and how best to cushion the cocoa marketing business and keep it thriving amidst the obvious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on that sector.
Some shipping lines present that agreed on the 2020/2021 prices are, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd, Grimaldi and COSCO Shipping Lines.
Addressing the conference ahead of the negotiations, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Benonita Bismarck, noted that the year under review saw bunker prices remaining slightly low with stable freight rates.
“The implementation of the IMO Sulphur cap policy coincided with the COVID-19, and we can now bunker prices remained slightly lower and freight rates quite stable,” she said.
Touching on impacts of COVID-19 on the shipping business, Benonita Bismarck praised the combined efforts of government and its key agencies in the shipping industry and shipping lines for eliminating demurrage charges during the lockdown period in order to alleviate the plight of shippers.
The Managing Director of the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Vincent Okyere Akomeah, said some of the challenges faced during the 2019/2020 cocoa season include reopening of containers, inadequate containers to stuff cocoa from some carriers and delay in releasing bills of lading.
He noted that even though a chunk of the nation’s cocoa comes from the Western Region, many shipping lines are reluctant in docking their vessels at the Port of Takoradi to transport the commodity.
Vincent Okyere Akomeah said while the country’s export of cocoa is expected to be around 700,000 tonnes in the coming season, the CMC is collaborating with other stakeholders to put together some incentives to attract more vessels to cart cocoa from the Port of Takoradi.
“We are therefore encouraging as many shipping lines as possible avail themselves to load cocoa from Takoradi. We assure you of incentives like greater volumes, free empty container terminal, and we are taking up the issue of port tariffs with the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority,” he urged.