Competitive Edge

December 1st, 2021

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Ocean Freight Market Update

IMPORT: Europe to North America 

Notable Ports with Congestion: For the USEC, Savannah Port remains to be noticeably congested. Some carriers have rerouted to Charleston Port in response. On the USWC, both Los Angeles Port and Long Beach Port continue to be afflicted with heavy congestion.  

Rates: Rates are projected to remain strong for both the USEC and USWC. 

Space: Due to the heavy congestion of Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, finding space remains critically elusive for USWC.  

Capacity: Tight for both North Europe and Mediterranean services. There currently is better equipment availability at ports, however shortages continue at inland consolidation depots. 

TIPS: Book at least 5 weeks in advance prior to the cargo’s ready date. Use premium services for higher reliability and no-roll promises.  

IMPORT: Asia to North America 

Recent Development: China has imposed mandatory quarantines (up to seven weeks) for Chinese seafarers. This recent development may add to already significant lags in the supply chain. 

 Pre-Chinese New Year forecasts predict strong import activity for the transpacific east-bound (TPEB) lane. Expect with confidence that importers will vie for space within the next few weeks.  

Port Congestion: LA and LB ports will remain plagued by heavy congestion. Due to recent flooding, Vancouver port is expected to have worsening congestion. Congestion will continue to hinder capacity and schedule integrity.  

Rates: That said, increased demand coupled with reduced capacity ensures that rates will remain at elevated levels. High demand is expected to run all the way into 2023.  

Importers should also be aware of carriers implementing GRIs and/or PSSs.  

Capacity: Capacity and equipment remain critical. So does space.  

EXPORT: North America to Asia 

Recent Development: China has imposed mandatory quarantines (up to seven weeks) for Chinese seafarers. This recent development may add to the significant lags in the supply chain. 

Rates: General rate increases (GRI) have already been implemented at full amounts. As we enter December, GRIs are likely to be activated for Indian destinations. Transshipments to Australian destinations as well should be on the lookout for GRIs. 

Capacity: For the USWC, available capacity for exports remains fluid at ports of loading (POLs). Vessel arrivals are also considered fluid. Additionally, the USEC has seen capacity become more readily available. On the equipment side of things, interior point intermodal (IPI) origins are feeling the impacts of container and chassis shortages. However, standard equipment at ports still maintains availability. 

TIPS: In order to secure vessel space and your equipment, it is necessary to book in advance 4 to 6 weeks


Setbacks on rail and road operations servicing the Port of Vancouver remain impacted from the flooding that has occurred in British Columbia.

  • Progress is being made to reopen many main routes to the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions

According to Hapag Lloyd some updates on notable roads and railroads near that area:

  • ROADS:
    • Highway 1: CLOSED
    • Highway 99: CLOSED
    • Highway 3: Re-opened for essential travel only
    • Highway 7: Open for essential travel only
    • Highway 5: CLOSED (long term)
  • RAIL:
    • Over the weekend CN had a mainline washout. Line clear date: TBA
    • CP rail link to/from Vancouver remains open as of November 23
    • Train fluidity to improve over the next several weeks
  • CP RAIL:
    • CP Vaughan: Export gates closed to Port of Vancouver and Port of Montreal until further notice
    • CP Lachine: Export gates closed to Port of Vancouver until further notice
    • CP Vancouver (VIF): Export gates closed until further notice
    • ALL OTHER CP RAMPS: Accepting DRY EXPORT traffic and pre-gate billed empties to Centerm/Vanterm/Deltaport (EXCEPT DPW Fraser Surrey)
  • CN RAIL:
    • US Ramps: Accepting DRY export traffic and pre-gate billed empties
    • Canadian Ramps: Accepting DRY export traffic and pre-gate billed empties

Freight News

New port fees starting Wednesday for Terminal SSA Marine at the Port of Seattle

The Terminal SSA Marine at the Port of Seattle is following in the footsteps of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with implementing a new container storage fee for containers that are lingering longer than 5 days. This fee is set to begin on Wednesday, December 1st.

  • According to Freightwaves, this new $50-per-day fee will be placed on containers dwelling longer than five days after they are made available for pickup at terminals 5, 18, and 30.
  • The late pickup fee will increase to $75 per day after 5 days of excess, $100 per day after 10 days and $150 per day after 15 days. This fee is set to begin on Wednesday December 1st.
  • The terminal stated, “Once the fee has been paid, the container will show as available in Operator’s container tracking system. Appointments on import lanes may not be made until the fee has been paid and the container is showing as available on the Forecast web site.”

It will be interesting to see how this new container fee goes for SSA Marine, as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have yet to officially enforce theirs.

The Georgia Ports Authority has began to accept loaded containers at freight railroads

On Monday, The Georgia Ports Authority (in a partnership with Norfolk Southern), will begin to accept loaded containers at the freight railroads near Dillon Yard. COO Ed McCarthy also stated that later this week they will begin routing shipping units to a general aviation airport in Statesboro reported by Freightwaves.

Some of their customers are taking matters into their own hands and are beginning to open up their own pop-up yards, McCarthy said. According to Freightwaves, this is so they can directly flow import containers, that way they can avoid waiting for longshoremen to sort through shipping units for their cargo and then retrieve them when space opens at one of their distribution centers. Going forward, Georgia plans to open around 5 more pop-up container facilities in mid-December.

In addition, there are also talks that the port authority and freight railroad CSX will open an auxiliary storage site in Rocky Mount, North Carolina reported by Freightwaves. While nothing is set in stone, if this comes in fruition, it will most likely be used as an alternative storage location for empty containers.

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