The World Shipping Council (WSC) takes action to address the Federal Maritime Commission’s concerns about ocean carriers contributing to port congestion. The WSC is taking action like “employing all available vessel capacity, repositioning vessels to those trades with the highest demand, speeding the return of excess empty containers and increasing cargo fluidity,” and more. Other major carriers like Maersk Line and APM Terminals 400 are working with ports and trucking organizations to develop more creative solutions to address congestion problems and foster more dual transactions.
Ocean carrier space continues to be at capacity. Space is completely booked well into January. To work around these capacity issues, customers can book a premium service offered by some carriers, which will cost approximately $2-3,000 more than usual. However, there are still delays with these premium services. Due to the tight capacity, some areas in China are refusing shipments, which is also increasing delays. These refusals are expected to continue into February, hopefully stopping after the Chinese New Year.
As the holiday season wraps up, delays are still present. Some ocean carriers are seeing 5-15 day dwell time at the ports, causing arrival delays. In some cases, it’s even more than 30 days. It is also anticipated that these delays will continue and possibly worsen as the year comes to a close. To increase the possibility of receiving shipments at a reasonable time, it is recommended to book at least four weeks in advance.
Generalized System of Preferences is still set to expire at the end of the year. The GSP provides duty-free treatment for thousands of imports from hundreds of countries and will expire by December 31st, 2020. Certain goods may be subject to tariffs starting at the beginning of the new year because of this expiration. However, should the GSP be renewed retroactively, importers should still claim GSP on their entries for eligible refunds.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will now require an aluminum import license for most imports of aluminum products. Starting January 25, 2021, brokers and importers will need an aluminum import license for each entry of an aluminum product and will have to register for an account online to receive a license. Pre-registration will open up on January 4, 2021, and can be completed at https://www.trade.gov/aluminum. The list of aluminum products subject to the license can be found on the International Trade Administration’s website. This new license system will use the same platform as the steel licensing system, so importers with an existing steel license do not need to register for an aluminum license.
The port of Miami is experiencing a cargo surge, causing backlogs of up to two weeks. As 2020 comes to an end, there has been a surge in volume and vessels arriving late to the Miami port due to delays at other ports. These late arrivals to the port are straining the drayage network, and draymen in the area are saying that this strain is resulting in cargo owners needing to provide at least a week’s notice to pick up import containers.
Peak season causes some delays, but air rates remain stable. The holiday peak season is causing some delays with air freights, which is typical around this time. Air freight rates are still high but are around the same as when the COVID-19 pandemic first started in March and April.
Less-than-truckload service issues multiply as COVID-19 pandemic and freight demand surge. The ongoing surge in U.S. imports and the COVID-19 pandemic is creating shortages all across the board, especially in the trucking industry. Trucks are being filled at a prior stop, pick-up dates are being pushed out as deliveries are missed, and drivers are delayed by other shippers. These problems are all causing long delays in the arrival of goods and even penalties imposed on shippers by retail customers for missed deliveries.