China probes shipping companies over excessive charges

China is probing shipping companies over allegations that they have been levying arbitrary and excessive charges, following complaints from foreign trade firms, the country’s cabinet said.

The State Council has ordered seven departments including the country’s top economic planner, transport and trade ministries to investigate alleged double charges on imports and exports and other illegal fees, according to a notice posted on the cabinet’s website.

For instance, terminal handling charges at some ports have surged to 1,200 yuan ($188) per container from 700 yuan last year, while container-seal fees have increased to 75 yuan from 5 yuan per container, the notice said.

The National Development and Reform Commission had so far found that some shipping companies “have too many items on document charges and unreasonable telex release charges,” the notice said.

Some firms had already started to adjust their fees, it said.

Charges for telex releases had been reduced from 500 yuan per order to about 200 yuan.

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