Plans to increase toll charges for the Panama Canal are ‘rushed, excessive and likely to cause further problems for shipping companies’ given the fragile state of economic recovery, according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). It says it has sent a strongly worded letter to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) describing plans to increase tolls by up to 15% as ‘simply unacceptable’.

The ICS calls for the plans to be withdrawn and for future increases to be given with at least six months’ notice to enable shipping companies to plan properly and fully assess the impact of the proposed changes.

The ICS is an international trade association for shipowners, with member national associations from 36 countries, claiming to represent all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet.

The ACP published plans to increase its tolls last month, which could come into effect as early as 1 July if agreed at a public hearing at the end of this month.