COVID-19 Latest Updates

Bangladeshi Port of Chittagong Congested, Biden Issues Executive Order Promoting Competition, & Slow Vaccine Rollout Causes Port Disruptions

By July 15, 2021 No Comments

Ocean  

The fight for vessel space continues. As consumer demand continues to surge, it’s expected that import growth through peak shipping season will continue through the fall as unprecedented shortages of ocean capacity intensify. U.S. retail importers from Asia are being warned by container lines, forwarders, and consultants that the situation will only worsen with peak season on the horizon.  

Additionally, major hubs in China and Asia have very little space available, with almost all carriers accepting only premium bookings. Across the board, space is generally full until the middle of August. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts

The Bangladeshi Port of Chittagong is clogged with containers carrying export goods. With sources saying that some containers have been waiting at the port for nearly 30 days, there are an estimated 14,000 TEU’s stuck at the port. The capacity crunch and limited space on vessels are fueling this congestion, with Chittagong shippers paying quadruple the rates before the COVID-19 pandemic to send US-bound containers. This ongoing congestion has forced some carriers to halt and slow bookings from Bangladesh. 

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) sign an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This memorandum aims to foster increased cooperation and communication in their respective oversight responsibilities of the shipping industry, establishing a framework for the FMC and Antitrust Division to continue discussing issues affecting competition in the industry. This agreement was the first-ever MOU between the two agencies. You can read the memorandum in an official document online.

Customs  

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) lifts export restrictions on COVID-19 medical supplies. Former U.S. export restrictions imposed on certain medical supplies and equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are now lifted after the temporary final rule (TFR) had an expiration date in late June. FEMA used the TFR to ensure an adequate national supply of medical supplies to help combat COVID-19. To learn more about the lift of these restrictions, view a fact sheet on FEMA’s website.  

CBP Virtual Trade Week is coming up. Virtual Trade Week will occur July 20-22 and will include discussions on 21CCF, e-commerce, forced labor, export modernization, CTPAT, and 1USG. To view more information, the agenda of the week, and pre-recorded sessions, visit CBP’s website.

Ports 

The South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP) will remain in existence until at least 2028. After three southeastern U.S. ports of Savannah, Jacksonville, and Wilmington agreed to stay in the pool in exchange for increased fleet size and enhanced chassis quality, the SACP will continue until at least 2028. The conditions of this agreement are meant to address these chronic problems of decreasing fleet size and low-quality chassis as imports surge at Southeastern U.S. ports.  

Air

DHL Express invests more than $360 million in the Americas to meet e-commerce demand. These millions of dollars will be invested into facilities and new air capacity for the Americas through 2022 to bolster parcel growth caused by increasing e-commerce demands. The new infrastructure will include technology to enhance operational efficiency and increase network capacity in the Americas by nearly 30%. 

American Airlines assists in distributing COVID-19 vaccines globally. As part of the White House’s initiative to share 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, American Airlines donated cargo flights to deliver vaccine doses to Guatemala. More airlines will likely continue to donate flights to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses, which will likely affect air cargo space.

Trucking 

ICYMI: Trucking industry sees the highest one-month gain in employment in 7 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall number of drivers has returned to pre-pandemic levels. While labor shortages fueled trucking capacity issues, it is still unclear as to whether these new gains will benefit truckload carriers as seats are still struggling to be filled. 

Rail

Norfolk Southern (NS) slashes domestic containers on busy routes in Pennsylvania. To combat strong demand and a shortage of 53-foot chassis in its network, NS extended the emergency service cuts into Central Pennsylvania, effective July 8. This move comes as the recall of more than 5,000 chassis left the railroad short on wheels to move containers.

Vancouver intermodal shippers face delays. U.S. and Canadian shippers should expect rail delays as Canada’s two Class I railroads slow train speeds and share a track with the Port of Vancouver. This delay comes as a wildfire closed one of two tracks that runs through British Columbia. The Port of Vancouver is estimating delays of more than a week. 

Other

Biden issues an Executive Order promoting competition in the economy. The Order includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to adequately tackle some of the most pressing issues facing economic competition in the country — including ocean shipping and unfair carrier practices (specifically detention and demurrage). You can read a fact sheet on the White House’s website summarizing what’s included in the Order or access the full Executive Order online

The slow vaccine rollout for seafarers is causing disruptions to trade and shipping. The global vaccine rollout for seafarers is going too slowly to prevent outbreaks on ships, causing more supply chain disruptions, slowing down economic recoveries, and endangering maritime workers. As the delta variant progresses and e-commerce demand keeps surging, infections may increase and more restrictions at ports may be enacted to restrict access to seafarers from countries that have not yet received COVID-19 vaccines. As this variant continues, supply chain disruptions are likely. Contact one of our experts if you have any questions.