Ocean carrier space is still hard to come by. There are few to none empty containers available to load in China unless bookings are completed through the recently-offered premium services. These constraints on vessel space are due to U.S. imports from Asia increasing. Because of this scarce space, shipping lines suggest checking back for space through standard services after the Chinese New Year. If customers have new shipments that need to depart China before Chinese New Year (February 12th), premium services will need to be used for those shipments.
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.
New exclusions will be granted from Section 301 tariffs to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain product exclusions that were set to expire at the end of 2020 will now be extended through March 31st, 2021. These products include medical-care equipment to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; the United States Trade Representative (USTR) had deemed the expirations of these exclusions inappropriate given the ongoing pandemic. The products that are eligible for exclusions can be found in an online PDF from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. If you need help understanding these changes, feel free to reach out to one of our experts.
Ports continue to handle surge of import volumes. Ports across the United States are still handling record-breaking import volumes from Asia, with some U.S. Gulf ports implementing capacity expansions for 2021. Though the ports are still handling major import volumes, the congestion is improving slightly, hopefully easing fully after the Chinese New Year.
CMA CGM to launch premium service from Yantian, China to Oakland and Seattle. To avoid unprecedented congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California, shipping line CMA CGM will offer a premium service from Yantian to Oakland and Seattle to give U.S. importers another West Coast port option. According to CMA CGM, Seapriority Express (SEA-X) will provide vessel space and equipment release in Yantian, with the fastest transit time available of 12 days to Oakland.
Air freights experience slight delays due to space constraints. Due to the slim capacity on air freights, air carriers are experiencing delays of up to three days, while inland movements are delayed due to constraints on domestic truckers. The rates for air space remain quite high.
Delays continue due to COVID-19 constraints and freight demand surging. 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.