Competitive Edge

October 25th, 2023

IMPORT: Asia to North America (TPEB)

Recent Developments:

  • Mexico’s Port of Lázaro Cárdenas is capturing more regular calls from transpacific ocean carriers as an alternative route into the U.S. Midwest that avoids the Panama Canal’s current draft limits.

Rates: While volumes are staying afloat, weak demand remains a contributor to softened rates. Major carriers have  announced potential general rate increases (GRIs) for November.
Space: Space is generally open, but certain services have seen tightening.
Capacity: Blank sailings are expected to continue into Chinese New Year (February 2024) as carriers remain managing their overcapacity.
Equipment: Aside from a few pockets, equipment is widely available.  

  • Hold your logistics partners accountable for frequent updates regarding blank sailings, rate increases, or any other forms of carrier maintenance.
  • Establish a firm timeline for future import activity.

IMPORT: Europe to North America (TAWB)

Rates: Rates mirror pre-pandemic levels. Carbon-related surcharges have been announced by ocean carriers ahead of the shipping industry’s indoctrination to the EU emissions trading system (ETS) in January. 

Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog for more information on the EU ETS and what shippers can expect regarding carrier  surcharges.

Space: Space is open, except for a few pockets.
Capacity: Capacity is plentiful.
Equipment: Availability on both origin and destination sides, unless advised otherwise.

  • Book at least three weeks prior to the ready date.
  • It’s unclear yet how carriers will react to this trade’s softened state, but be on the lookout for certain tactics, like blank sailings or rate increases, from them as a means to reduce their lossmaking.

EXPORT: North America to Asia

Recent Developments:

  • Downbound barge rates have cautiously alleviated in the last week, suggesting potential relief for harvest season exporters. Conditions on the Mississippi River still remain far from ideal, however.

Rates: Rates are elevated.    
Capacity: Schedule reliability is currently erratic.
Equipment: A tricky import market may always lead to potential imbalances impacting exporters.

  • Insufficient communication with erratic 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 Week'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!

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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.

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Freight News

U.S. West Coast Sees a 'Rebound' in Asian Imports

The dust had settled when West Coast (ILWU) dockworkers ratified their new contract with their employers this past August.

During the fifteen months of labor instability and disruptions throughout the USWC, some shippers opted to move some (or all) of their discretionary cargo to the USEC and USGC, to avoid those disruptions.

Now, the USWC ports are seeing a rebound’ in their share of Asian imports, the JOC reports.

“There’s a lot of confidence in the West Coast,” Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles said. He also notes that important operational indictors (such as container and chassis dwells and truck turn times) have all seen improvements on the West Coast, which further gives retailers confidence to move some of those volumes back to the USWC.

In September, the had 57.9 percent of the share of Asian imports – up from a low of 54.4 percent back in January this year. While total U.S. imports from Asia during the month of September were up 1.4 percent from September of last year.

Finished Car Imports are Being Shipped by Container Amid Ro/Ro Capacity Crunch

Automakers have had to think outside of the box amid tightened capacity on roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) vessels. Instead of shipping via this conventional and preferred way, many vehicle manufacturers have resorted to loading cars into containers.

This alternative has been an unusual, albeit welcomed, source of new volumes for container shipping, a sector that ocean carriers have been otherwise desperate to fill excess capacity with.

Insiders report fully assembled cars are being imported into the U.S. through containers. Typically, two cars will be in each unit where they’ll be offloaded, staged, and promptly picked up by car carriers.

The ro/ro squeeze can be attributed to automakers experiencing easing production constraints, like the infamous semiconductor shortage, and rising demand for electric vehicles. Cars produced in Asia have boomed in 2023 with vehicle exports from China, Japan, and South Korea expected to end the year 24 percent year-over-year.

Ro/ro carriers have an outstanding orderbook of newbuild vessels, with the earliest deliveries scheduled in 2024. The gradual arrival of these ships will look to alleviate this bizarre capacity plight.

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 Portland vs. Port of Prince Rupert (Canada). 

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's Annual Crocktober Competition:

Interlog’s annual Crocktober competition is well underway. During the month of October at our Minneapolis branch, our team breaks into groups for a shot at crockpot supremacy!

Follow our LinkedIn to see more fun events we do here at InterlogUSA!

A Podcast by InterlogUSA: NEW FreightFM Episode

Check out episode 12: “Golden Week Nuggets, plus Transpacific Market Update”

InterlogUSA’s Rachel Thielen and Emily Smith discuss Golden Week and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays over in Asia, plus a market update on the transpacific trade lane!

Take A Listen

FreightFM features short-form video interviews with InterlogUSA’s industry experts offering insights into breaking news, market trends, our company’s history, and more!

Browse Past Episodes

Interlog Insights

Last week, we discussed how supply chain cyberattacks can occur, plus we covered the announcement of a new bridge raising project at the Port of Charleston! 

Sign-up and check it out for yourself!

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