Shipping disruptions begin to ease. Logistics data shows that port congestions and container shortages now appear to be easing as Chinese exports slow as a result of lessened demand from Western economies and “softer global economic conditions,” CNBC reports. The trends in logistics and supply chains from the past two years have reversed from constant container shortages and delays at ports affected by lockdowns and soaring demand.
Container ship backlogs at ports begin to lessen. Last week, there were still 99 container ships waiting offshore to unload at North American ports. That’s down from peak numbers, however the pre-COVID norm was in the single digits, and there is a long way before the backlog is cleared. The current tally is down 35% off recent highs. As of last Friday afternoon, there were 27 container vessels off the West Coast and 72 off the East and Gulf coasts according to an American Shipper survey of MarineTraffic ship-position data, together with the latest queue lists from California ports.
Port emissions in California increased from 2021. Port officials announced an unprecedented increase in harmful emissions over the last year according to the LA Times. Cancer-causing diesel particulate matter rose 56% compared with 2020 at the Port of Los Angeles. The emissions of nitrogen oxides increased 54% and sulfur oxides rose 145%. The Port of Long Beach reported similar numbers, with diesel particulate increasing 42%, nitrogen oxides up 35% and sulfur oxides rose 38%. The reports said greenhouse gas emissions were up 39% in 2021 at the Port of L.A. and 35% at the Port of Long Beach. The ports say the surge was an anomaly, and that they’ve taken steps to reduce the health effects of future slowdowns. Officials said emissions are still much lower than levels in the mid-2000s.
U.S. Trade Representative seeks public comment on China 301 Tariffs. The Biden administration is reviewing the effectiveness of more than $300 billion worth of tariffs on imports from China and is asking for the public to weigh in. Last week, the U.S. Trade Representative said it is soliciting input on how Section 301 tariffs have impacted supply chain resilience, domestic manufacturing and technological innovation, among other things. Stakeholders will be able to comment Nov. 15 through Jan. 17, 2023, via an electronic portal. Tariffs will remain in place as the USTR conducts its review. The USTR announcement can be found here.
Labor shortage causes Texas to seek out foreign drivers for trucking fleets. Officials say that a shortage of truck drivers in South Texas has become so severe that fleets are looking to foreign operators to fill labor gaps. FreightWaves reports that Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) has partnered with Entra Business Solutions in creating a program that will recruit drivers from the Dominican Republic who are interested in coming to America to work as truckers along the U.S.-Mexico border. “We are connecting the drivers in the Dominican Republic with companies here in the U.S.,” Ricardo Colmenter, director at Entra Business Solutions, told FreightWaves. “The idea is to have a robust database of drivers that we prescreen and for companies here in the U.S. to find in that database the right person for their workforce.” Candidates from the Dominican Republic must be able to pass a medical exam, have a clean criminal record, and possess previous work experience as a transport driver.
Federal Motor Safety Administration lets emergency hours of service waiver expire. In a move supported by both major trucking companies and truck safety advocates, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration let a national hours-of-service exemption in place lapse for over two years. The exemption was first issued in March 2020 by FMCSA and was extended and/or modified over 10 times, according to FreightWaves. By waiving hours of service restrictions, it gave truck drivers and carriers more flexibility to deliver shipments of livestock, medical supplies, vaccines, groceries and diesel fuel. The most recent extension, which was issued in September and expired on Saturday, has not been renewed. “We evaluated the data coming back on who was using it, as well as the evaluation of the comments we received [on the last extension],” FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson told FreightWaves. “We also looked at where we are with COVID, and the guidance that has been coming out on that. All was behind the decision to let it expire.”
BNSF to pay $228 million over fingerprint data lawsuit. BNSF Railway has been ordered to pay $228 million in a federal class-action lawsuit. A jury found that the railroad violated Illinois state law by collecting employee fingerprints without prior consent. The decision is the first in a case involving the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, the first law passed by a state to address the collection of fingerprint and other biological data of workers or consumers according to Trains.com. Area truck driver Richard Rogers filed the suit, arguing that he was required to use his fingerprint to access Chicago-area BNSF intermodal facilities, and that the railroad failed to disclose the purpose of collecting fingerprints, and did not publish a data retention or destruction policy as required under the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act Bloomberg Law reported. The jury found that BNSF had violated the law 45,600 times, one for each member of the class action. BNSF was subjected to a $5,000 fine for each violation. BNSF will appeal the verdict, railroad spokeswoman Lena Kent told Bloomberg.
AfA, NCBFAA White Paper Urges Need for U.S. Airport Cargo Operations Investment. The Airforwarders Association (AfA) and NCBFAA are calling for a State or Federal-backed “Air Cargo Support Fund” to tackle the infrastructural crisis facing the U.S. air cargo industry. A major national survey of 400 air cargo stakeholders in the public and private sectors was undertaken by the organizations in order to identify the critical issues and the airports where the challenges are greatest. The recommendations include implementing airport community systems, encouraging better recruitment and retention through improved compensation packages, and a new industry-wide training program. Read the full recommendation whitepaper here.
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Container ship sinks off Saudi Arabia coast. A Dubai-owned container ship has reportedly sunk off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The 2,007-teu large feeder vessel TSS PearlIt was hit by a serious fire in early October, 123 nautical miles north-west of the Red Sea port of Jizan. All 25 seafarers were successfully evacuated from the ship, according to TradeWinds News. Several containers are reported to be floating at the site of the sinking, but it is currently unconfirmed if any of the vessel superstructure remains visible. “Accordingly, this casualty will now result in cargo losses and associated recovery claims,” Cargo claims company WK Webster said.
British Prime Minister resigns after 45 days in office. After resigning Thursday, Liz Truss became the shortest-serving leader in British political history after less than two months in office. She will be replaced by another lawmaker from her ruling Conservative Party within the next week.
Amazon donates millions of disaster relief items to Hurricane Ian victims. 10,000 disaster relief items were packed and shipped at Amazon’s Ruskin fulfillment center on Oct. 14, two hours north from Hurricane Ian’s impact in southern Florida. Amazon’s head of disaster relief Abe Diaz said the company has donated more than 1.5 million items for victims of the hurricane to charities like the Red Cross and South Florida disaster nonprofit Global Empowerment Mission. “If there’s any more relief efforts needed and there’s more items needed, we’re gonna see where we can support,” said Ruskin’s operation manager, Sean Comerford. “We’re pretty quick with responding.”
Hyundai recalls top 130,000. More Hyundai cars have been recalled, bringing the total up to 130,000. Hyundai Motor models, including the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Elantra N, have been recalled for an oil pump issue, according to Carbuzz. Those models recalled include: 2021-2022 Santa Fe, Sonata, Veloster N, Kia K5, and Sorento. The 2022 Elantra N, Kona N, and Santa Cruz have also been recalled.