The imposition of a carbon tax on bunker fuel will lead to higher container freight rates that could suppress demand for world trade, according to a leading shippers’ body.

The Global Shippers Forum (GSF) has issued the warning alongside this week’s meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization.

The lobby group fears that cargo owners could be forced to shoulder a rash of new surcharges if there is agreement to introduce a carbon tax on bunker fuel.