Burnaby Board of Trade demands investigation as shipping costs soar more than 400 per cent in 2021

·2 min read
A Port of Vancouver tug guides a large container ship clear of the loading area. According to the director at the Burnaby Board of Trade, container shipping costs have increased more than 400 per cent since January 2021. (David Horemans / CBC - image credit)
A Port of Vancouver tug guides a large container ship clear of the loading area. According to the director at the Burnaby Board of Trade, container shipping costs have increased more than 400 per cent since January 2021. (David Horemans / CBC - image credit)

The Burnaby Board of Trade is raising the alarm and asking the federal government to address soaring container shipping costs, which have risen more than 400 per cent since January 2021.

According to the director of the association, shipping costs have skyrocketed and business across the Lower Mainland are paying thousands of dollars for a shipping container.

"We've heard from a construction company here that went from $4,000 — was their quote in January — to $12,500 in August ... and we've seen quotes as high as ... $18,000 to get your goods over here," Cory Redekop said.

He said this is the first time the association has seen this large of an increase in such a short amount of time and they are concerned businesses will not be able to absorb the inflated costs much longer.

"There's always volatility and prices go up and down, but businesses can't absorb something that goes up 500 per cent over the course of a few months ... and really the challenge is the scale and the speed with which this is happening," he said.

'Uphill rise'

Alok Kansal, co-owner of Hari Stones Limited, says his business uses about 70 shipping containers a month and each container is costing him more than 500 per cent more than what it did last year.

"It's just been an uphill rise," Kansal said. "Last year, we were paying about $1,500 to $2,000 a container from China and right now, its $10,500."

Yvette Brend/CBC News
Yvette Brend/CBC News

He said in his 20 years of business, this is the first time he's seen prices increase this much, this fast.

"I'm really, really concerned ... it's causing a lot of aggravation and headaches," he said.

In a letter to Transport Canada from the Burnaby Board of Trade, the association and its members are asking the government to play a more active role in addressing these concerns and not only investigate the cause of the increase in shipping costs, but also provide some financial support for the businesses impacted.

"For some of these businesses, this is a life or death scenario," Redekop said.

"Businesses have weathered a pandemic, they're finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel ... and now they're trying to bring their goods over ... and they're hit with another barrier."

Transport Canada said in an written response to CBC News on Wednesday, that the cause of the increase in shipping costs is due to the spike in demand for goods.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a notable impact on global supply chains. The combination of very high demand and capacity constraints have, accordingly, impacted freight rates," it said.

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