China Import Surcharges – Unfair or Downright Criminal?

If you are new to importing from China the following information may put you off importing altogether, but read on – because there is a solution

There was a time when almost all exports from China were sold on FOB terms. The importer was free to choose a freight company to arrange the shipping and control their costs. This did not suit some of the freight agents in China as they wanted to control the cargo and get larger discounts from the shipping lines. The only way they could control the volumes was to get the shippers to book directly with them (this meant in many cases paying the shipper to move their cargo through them). Many shippers changed their terms to C&F and will quote nominal freight charges to the importers. These freight charges are way below market rates so it is impossible for the freight companies at the destination to compete

Then comes the sting: once the goods arrive at the destination port the breakbulk agent will issue inflated destination charges along with new made up charges such as ‘China Import Surcharge’ and ‘Rate of Exchange Differential’. These charges are more than you would pay your local forwarder for arranging the whole shipment. You can argue with the breakbulk agent that the charges are too high, but they are set in China and cannot be changed

So what is the solution?

Firstly, get the shipper to confirm the destination charges to you. These have already been agreed between the shipper and the freight agent in China

Contact your freight forwarder and ask them to quote you for an FOB shipment from the port in China plus local charges at the destination. In most cases their price will be lower than you will pay in breakbulk charges alone

Tell the shipper that you will be using your freight company

We have helped many companies save on imports from China and would like to see this practice wiped out

If you have been a victim of this crime and we do believe it to be a crime, please get in touch with us or leave a comment (PLEASE DO NOT MENTION COMPANIES BY NAME)

B, BMFQ Team