The Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA), and the shipping lines ferrying Ghana's cocoa exports to the international market have agreed to maintain their cocoa freight charges for the 2020/2021 cocoa season.
This means that the freight rate for the 2019/2020 cocoa season has not been changed.
As a result, the rate for shipment per tonne to the United Kingdom (UK) had been stayed at £30, the Northern Continent at €49, the Estonia at €56, the Mediterranean Europe at €55, the Far East at $89/94, and Brazil at $103.
The bunker adjustment factor (BAF) which refers to floating part of sea freight charges which represents additions due to oil prices was also maintained by 27 per cent for all destinations but for the UK which was reduced to 25 per cent.
The rates were reached after negotiations and extensive deliberation on the future of the sector and how best to support each other amid the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on operations.
Some of the shipping lines that participated in the negotiations include Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), PIL Ghana Limited, Grimaldi Lines Ghana and ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Limited.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck, announced after the cocoa freight negotiation conference which was held for the second time in Accra, Ghana on September 24.
She said the new rates were reached after negotiations with about 24 shipping lines upon consideration of the various issues raised during the deliberations.
She said looking at the prices of cocoa on the global market, it was important that the authority and the shippers take another look at the freight charges to determine the way forward.
The last meeting
In her initial address at the opening of the conference, the CEO noted that since the last freight meeting was held, not much has changed in the industry in Ghana.
"Except to say that we have all been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which slowed down business activities considerably."
She said Ghana had to lockdown for about three weeks and this affected the clearance of cargo at the ports with huge demurrage and storage rent implications for many shippers.
She said fortunately, due to tremendous cooperation received from the shipping lines, majority of these time-related charges were waived by the shipping lines to the relief of shippers and government alike.
"I therefore wish to seize this opportunity to once again thank you, the shipping lines, for that timely support.
"Cocoa remains a major cash crop for Ghana and it positively affects many lives in our rural communities. It is in this light that we think that the profitability in the carriage of the commodity must encourage you as carriers to want to continue in the business for our mutual benefits," she added.
The Managing Director of Cocoa Marketing Company, Mr Vincent Okyere Akomeah, observed that shipments for the just ended 2019/2020 cocoa season were achieved through cooperation, support, collaboration, and the quality services rendered to the industry.
"We therefore look forward to many years of mutually beneficial cooperation between our respective companies."
He said the companies shipped about 500,000 tonnes of cocoa during the 2019/2020 cocoa season.
He said it was significant to note that 52 per cent out of last year's volume was shipped from Takoradi, 42 per cent in Tema, and six per cent from Kumasi.
This, he said, was reflecting the fact that about 45 per cent of total cocoa production in Ghana was coming from the Western region.
"We are stressing on Takoradi shipment because we have only two or three shipping lines calling Takoradi but that is where the trend is showing."
Call at Takoradi
Mr Akomeah, therefore, urged other shipping lines to avail themselves to load cocoa from Takoradi.
"We are therefore encouraging as many shipping lines as possible to avail themselves to load cocoa from Takoradi. We are assuring you of incentives like greater volumes, and free empty container terminal at Kejebril.
“We are taking the issue of port tariff and charges with the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) for vessels picking cocoa from Takoradi, and you will be informed accordingly about the outcome," he said.
The Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at GSA, Mr Emmanuel Arku, also thanked the shipping lines for the services rendered to the industry.