Shipping agents in Sri Lanka have warned that shipping lines may stop accepting imports and exports to and from Sri Lanka due to the island nation’s ongoing severe foreign exchange crisis, which prevents shipping companies from remitting freight charges.
Sri Lanka has been facing a severe foreign exchange crisis over the past few months, with its available foreign exchange reserves falling to less than $50 million in May. Prices of essential goods are now at record highs due to a shortage of foreign exchange and a huge crisis in meeting import bills.
Shipping lines and freight forwarders may decide to drop service to Sri Lankan ports as expiry freight rates rise. The shipping agent also noted that they were unable to make all payments in US dollars as they received several payments in rupees from the shipper.
At the same time, the port authority waived $20 million in demurrage fees for importers who were unable to clear customs in time from the port due to delays in bank release.
The foreign exchange crisis has resulted in some importers being unable to obtain foreign currency for weeks, so their cargoes cannot be released from port premises, resulting in demurrage charges for additional time in the port yard.