Competitive Edge

November 8th, 2023

IMPORT: Asia to North America (TPEB)

Recent Developments:

  • Severe draft restrictions at the Panama Canal are expected to continue into February 2024. This includes reducing the number of vessels transiting the canal each day to just 18 by then. In normal (non-drought) conditions, around 35 ships a day are permitted through the Panama Canal.

Rates: Rates rose slightly following November 1 general rate increases (GRIs). However, weak demand has neutralized this contrived upward pressure. Therefore, rates are retreating to their previous levels.
Space: Space is generally open, but certain services have seen tightening.
Capacity: Blank sailings are expected to continue into Chinese New Year as carriers remain managing their overcapacity.
Equipment: A shortage in railcar availability has impacted freight movement at West Coast ports. This issue is largely due to an imbalance in westbound and eastbound traffic.

  • Hold your logistics partners accountable for frequent updates regarding blank sailings, rate increases, or any other forms of carrier maintenance.
  • With rail woes at the WC, consider trucking as an alternative for inland transportation.
  • Establish a firm timeline for future import activity.

IMPORT: Europe to North America (TAWB)

Recent Developments:

  • Carbon-related surcharges have been announced by ocean carriers ahead of the shipping industry’s indoctrination to the EU emissions trading system in January. For more information.

Rates: Rates remain low and level.   
Space: Space is open.
Capacity: Capacity is plentiful with no major adjustments from carriers yet.
Equipment: Availability on both origin and destination sides, unless advised otherwise.

  • Book at least three weeks prior to the ready date.
  • Carriers have yet to take aggressive action, like they have in the Pacific, regarding capacity management. However, this trade is not profitable for them in its current state, so be on the lookout as they may become more emboldened.

EXPORT: North America to Asia

Recent Developments: Western Canada’s Port of Prince Rupert is undergoing a project that will boost its export capacity.

Rates: Rates have steadily fallen into November, furthering the trend which started in late September.
Capacity: Schedule reliability can be fickle in pockets.
Equipment: A tricky import market has spurred on rail car availability issues.

  • Insufficient communication with sailing schedules can lead to higher detention and demurrage fees as well as higher trucking and storage costs. Ensure your logistics partners are not keeping you and your cargo in the dark.

Watch Last Month's Webinar!

Topics: Timeline of industry events during the pandemic, diving into this summer and today’s market, consumer/holiday spending, 2024 predictions, and current events!

Sign Up For Our November Webinar!

Our next webinar is Wednesday, November 15th, at 10am CST!

With special guest: Andre Winters, Interlog’s Director of Branch Development

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What is Coffee & Cargo? Every month, our experts sit down to discuss what’s currently happening in the shipping industry. Every so often we are joined by special guests, who share their specific expertise and experiences.

Check Out Past Webinars Here!

Freight News

U.S. East Coast Imports and Dockworker Contract Updates

Some reports are showing imports from Asia are starting to shift back to the U.S. West Coast, after USEC and USGC ports in months prior saw an import shift themselves.

Volume coming into some of the main East and Gulf Coast ports fell 13.4% year-on-year in September, as U.S. West Coast volumes increased 16.7% year-on-year, per Freightwaves.

Another thing to keep an eye on is the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ILA dockworkers contract is set to expire on September 30th, 2024. Will this dockworker contract hit a snag like the USWC one did? That remains to be seen.

However, there is some speculation that there could (emphasis on could), be a strike at U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports next year, according to a statement from ILA President Harold Daggett.  

“The union will hold firm on its pledge not to extend the contract beyond its expiration date of September 30th, 2024…” per the ILA union press release.

The latest on the Panama Canal

For the first time since 1950, October was the driest month at the Panama Canal. Largely due from the drought of the El Nino phenomenon.

The Gatun Lake has been lowered to ‘unprecedented’ levels for this time of year after rainfall has been less than 41 percent this year than typical.

The Panama Canal Authority recently announced more reservation slots in an effort to maintain a competitive draft between November and February. See below for more details

The Panama Canal Authority stresses the importance for customers to make reservations in order to transit as scheduled.

Vote in This Week's 'Port of the Week' Poll

Every other week we post a poll on our LinkedIn page (give us a follow if you feel inclined), where you can vote on which port you would like to see featured in our deep dive this Friday!

Vote on this week’s port poll battle: Port of Santos (Brazil) vs. Port of Wilmington. 

Consider subscribing to our biweekly “Port of the Week!” newsletter to continue getting a closer look at various ports (and inland ports), globally and domestically.

Interlog Insights

Last week we release our first week of November insights. Some topics we discussed is holiday spending and how Port of Lázaro Cárdenas rises as an alternative to the Panama Canal.

Sign-up and check it out for yourself!

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