Many merchants on Grand Cayman have adopted a decided air of resignation to the hike in shipping prices due to be implemented 31 July.
Thompson Line and Seaboard have informed customers that there will be a general rate increase of $75 on each 20-foot container and $150 on each 40-foot container, while Malvar Freight Forwarding of Miami are to increase its charges from $1.93 per cubic foot to $2.25.
Thompson Shipping indicated the increase will affect all of its shipments between Canada, the Continental United States, Puerto Rico, the USVI and the Cayman Islands.
While business people are prepared to accept the increases without too much argument, one local shipping line spokesperson said that they should be thankful the increases weren’t any higher.
‘It’s the first general increase in many years for Grand Cayman and it could have been much worse,’ said a spokesman for the Seaboard shipping company.
‘Grand Cayman was the last country to have the price rises imposed on them and every other country in the Caribbean and surrounding areas has had to pay more.
‘For instance there was a $150 dollar increase on a 20ft container in Jamaica.
‘We thought about it long and hard, but in the end we had to do it,’ said the spokesman.
Asked if there were any further increases in the pipeline the spokesperson added: ‘I don’t really see that happening.’
Billy Adams of CayTrans, who operates as non-vessel operating shipper out of George Town, took a different view. ‘We have absorbed the increases since 1997, but we have reached a point where we just can’t do it any longer.
‘The shipping companies have increased rates over the last 10 years and there have been increases in trucking costs and shipping insurance.
‘Also, there has been a decrease in efficiency as we are no longer able to utilise as much space as before in the containers due to changes in regulation.’
Elaine Daniel of Malvar Freight Forwarding said the increases have been necessary because of increased fuel charges, labour costs and workmen’s compensation, which covers payments to personnel injured in the workplace.
The increase in the price of steel, which has raised the cost of building ships and containers, is another reason cited for the increased shipping costs.
The raise in shipping prices will mean a raise in the cost of goods here in the Cayman Islands.
A spokesperson for the Kirk Home Centre said: ‘You always have some increases to face in business, but in this instance, we have no chance of combating it. We have to use the shipping companies and at the end of the day the increases are going to be passed on to the consumer – that’s the end result for anybody.’
Randy Merren of the Hurley’s Supermarket chain said: ‘We are currently in negotiations with Thompson’s over our new shipping contract, so we don’t have numbers on what the price rises will mean in terms of items on our shelves going up in price just yet.’