Competitive Edge

September 22nd, 2021

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Ocean Freight Market Update

Europe –> North America:

Rates: Expect October 1st GRI.
Space: Limited – Expect some delays to US South East. Long Beach is highly congested, as of 9/21, over 42 vessels are waiting at bay.
Capacity: Tight – Fewer bookings to inland rail ramp destinations
TIPS: With capacity tight, it is recommended to book on premium services. Recommend to book 4-5 weeks in advance. Work on obtaining booking before 10/1 for best rates.

North America –> Asia:

Rates: October 1st GRI for some carriers.
Space: Space is slowly opening; however port congestion is making things difficult.
Capacity: Steady for Standard Containers.
TIPS: Looking into re-routing options may be helpful to avoid port congestion at LGB and OAK. Seattle and Texas may be good alternatives for your cargo.

Asia -> North America

Rates: No October GRI expected – high potential that rates will begin stepping down in October. Space is opening, especially from key ports that were previously overwhelmed.

Space: port congestion is lessening.

Equipment Availability: near-normal conditions, except limited 45HC availability TIPS: Space is still available for containers before the Golden Week Holiday shutdown (October 1-7). Be aware of the ripple effect at US ports/rail ramps from the Chinese pause/resumption in production and shipping.

Freight News

Overcharging on containers being addressed with new container fee rules

Federal regulators are considering new rules related to fees being imposed by ocean carriers for the use of their containers by shippers. The Federal Maritime Commission is looking for input from the public on two questions:

  1. Should the commission require ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators to include certain minimum information on or with demurrage and detention billings?
  2. Should the commission require carriers and marine terminal operators to adhere to certain practices regarding the timing of demurrage and detention billings?

Commissioner Carl Bentzel, who voted in favor of a rule that would impose the above requirements stated, “Carriers and marine terminal operators should not be charging demurrage or detention caused as a result of their own operational challenges, but on the other hand, shippers also need to pick up cargo left on-dock on a timely basis.” FW

The FMC released a policy statement, on the ability of shippers, truckers, and others to get reparations for conduct by carriers and marine terminal operators that violates the U.S. Shipping Act, including actions related to demurrage and detention. The statement goes over and guides on carrier retaliation, who may file a complaint with the commission, and when attorney fees can be imposed on parties that do not prevail in complaint. FW

In an attempt to fix container backlog, LA/LB Ports expanding night and weekend hours

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Friday announced they plan on extending their operating hours at truck gates in an effort to reduce a massive backlog of containers plugging up retail, manufacturing, and agricultural supply chains. According to Freightwaves the plan would be for drayage trucks to retrieve and return containers at night. The port is also in the process of putting together a weekend gate program that will operate on a trial basis, named Accelerate Cargo LA.

What’s left unanswered is who would bear the cost, and how will the extra access be carried out. American Shipper  spoke with Long Beach Deputy Director Noel Hacegaba who said the initiative is designed to cover the hours between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. PDT. They plan to provide details early next week about how the new programs will work and be paid for.

The alternative is to pre-pull containers to a secure storage yard, but that is more expensive as it requires two truck moves and extra days of chassis leasing. Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition says throwing up night gates with little notice, makes it impossible for truckers to plan their days within hours-of-service- limits. If there were universal regular extended hours, carriers and warehouses would be able to plan their operations better.

Port authorities say they will steadily promote the off-peak gates to shippers and work closely with the trucking community to ensure drivers understand how to take advantage of non-peak times. Now, realistically how much of an impact will this have on the backlog of containers? The answer remains to be seen but it is an important first start in addressing these issues.

Blog Of The Week

Surprising Surplus of Empty Containers at Long Beach Ocean Port

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