Prime Cuts, 11 November 2020

The ACCC Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report 2019-20 presents information on the financial and operational performance of the monitored container stevedores, as well as observations regarding key developments within the sector. The ACCC has monitored the container stevedoring industry since 1998-99 under a direction from the Australian Government.

According to the report:

  • Stevedore revenues are up significantly from Terminal Access Charges (TACs) levied on road & rail transport operators.
  • Stevedores’ total revenues at monitored ports increased by $38.9 million, or 2.8 per cent, despite a significant drop in container volumes.
  • Terminal Access Charges (TACs) on aggregate have increased by $87.6 million, or
    9 per cent, since 2018–19

Stevedores’ revenues and profit margins increased overall in the last financial year despite the global pandemic causing the largest contraction in container volumes in a decade.

Overall revenues grew in 2019-20, largely as a result of stevedores increasing terminal access charges. Revenue from these charges, previously called infrastructure charges, rose by 51.9 per cent in aggregate for monitored ports compared to 2018-19.

“While there may be justification for landside charges, excessive terminal access charges will nullify the benefits of greater competition between stevedores in providing services to shipping lines. However, any regulation of these charges is a matter for state and territory governments,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.  

“Shipping lines contract with a single stevedore for cargo and that means there is no direct competition in the provision of landside services. This makes these fees to some extent a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition for importers or exporters that have no direct choice of stevedore.”

Stevedores’ total operating profit margins increased for the first time in a decade, from 5.8 per cent in 2018-19 to 9.9 per cent in 2019-20. While profitability varies significantly between stevedores, this is the highest overall margin recorded since 2016-17.

The report shows that revenues and profits increased, even though total container lifts through monitored ports fell by 4.4 per cent largely due to the impact of COVID-19 in the second half of the 2019-20 monitoring period.