VietNamNet Bridge – Hundreds of millions of dollars have been flowing back into the pockets of foreign ship owners since the port operators in the Hai Phong City area have been scrambling for clients by dramatically reducing container handling fees. Foreign ship owners make profits in troubled waters A report showed that 11 out of 36 port operators have been providing services in Hai Phong City, with 26 container harbors. The loading and unloading capacity is 500-800 TEU/meter/year. The average container handling fee ports charge foreign shipping firms is $36.5 per 20-feet container and $55 per 40-feet container. According to Trieu Thuan, a senior executive of the Dinh Vu Port, the 20-feet container handling fee at one point dipped to $30-32, well below cost. Some other ports even tried to scramble for clients by offering some free support services. Truong Van Thai, Deputy General Director of the Hai Phong Port, said that port operators in the area have simply been following the rules of healthy competition.”Port operators regularly survey the market to find out the fees quoted by other ports, and then set up the same fees or a little bit lower to compete for clients,” Thai said. Bui Thien Thu, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Maritime Bureau (Vinamarine), warned that the competition is unhealthy when container handling fees drop dramatically below operating costs, seriously affecting the ports’ revenues. With modest revenues and profits, or possibly even losses, port developers will not have money for re-investment, harbor and equipment upgrading….