Freight Market Updates

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Webinar: Leveraging Supply Chain Technology to Keep Business Growing

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Leveraging Supply Chain Technology to Keep Business Growing​ Pre-Recorded Webinar   The right tools can enable businesses to grow and scale faster, father, and more cost-effectively. As communities everywhere pave their way forward through...

Navegate Named a Top 100 Logistics IT Provider for 2020

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Ocean Capacity Constrained at Asian Hubs, U.S. Customs Enforcing Harsher Reviews, Air Freight Rates Soar

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Ocean 

Ocean freight space is incredibly tight, especially at core Asian hubs. To combat delays, major carriers like Maersk and CMA CGM are adding extra sailings for the U.S. East Coast in the next few weeks. With most lines still sailing well below normal capacity,  bookings out of the majority of Asia are hard to come by—space out of India is nearly booked out through the end of the year. These capacity crunches and associated delays are largely a result of carriers booking space well beyond capacity, leaving them with a backlog of rolled shipments to move. Most routes are at capacity through the end of November, so prepare to book at least 4 weeks out for any upcoming shipments and brace for any already-booked shipments to be rolled. 

As a result of constrained capacity, ocean freight rates are projected to remain high, but steady through the end of the month. With Chinese agencies working hard to keep rates stable, no general rate increases (GRIs) are anticipated in the coming weeks.

Customs

More Section 301 investigations have been opened, alleging illegal timber sourcing in Vietnam and suspicions of currency fixing. Specific rates and HTS numbers are still unknown, which could amount to tariff rates of 200% or more. Comments on the investigations are open until November 12th. 

Some commodities are being shifted onto Section 301 tariff lists. These changes may impact a wide variety of imports that haven’t previously been subject to any duty and are being moved with minimal notice. 

U.S. Customs has recently been enforcing harsher reviews in many areas, leading to an increase in the frequency of exams across the board. Work with your supply chain partners to ensure proper documentation and markings—from HTS codes to origin. If you need help with avoiding delays at customs, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Customs Experts

Ports

A new breakbulk terminal in New Orleans began operations at the beginning of the month and will receive vessels by the end of October. The terminal will primarily serve dry and project cargo, easing traffic for oversized items like wind turbines and steel and pipe imports.

Congestion is expected to worsen over the next two weeks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. The congestion is caused by a record level of imports, which are expected to stretch drayage capacity and cause some challenges for import distribution warehouses. 

Air

Shippers are turning to air freight as ocean capacity books up, sending rates soaring. As air capacity continues to tighten, rates are returning to the levels experienced in March and April of this year, at the start of COVID-19 disruptions.

Trucking

U.S. trucking capacity remains tight but relatively stable. Domestic spot market rates are rising less rapidly than they have in recent weeks, but major transport hubs remain congested. 

Section 301 Investigations Opened for Vietnam, WTO Approves Tariffs on U.S. Exports, CMA CGM is Back Online

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Customs

The Trump administration has announced tariffs on $2 billion worth of aluminum imports on 18 countries. The move appears to circumvent the pending U.S. International Trade Commission’s antidumping investigation, which was set to conclude in February. The tariffs, which will impact imports from South Korea, India, Germany and others, will range from 54% to as much as 132%. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has given the EU the green light to hit the U.S. with tariffs on $4 billion worth of exports. The tariffs, which are being levied by the EU as a result of claims that the Trump Administration illegally provided state aid to Boeing Co., are expected to be stalled until after November’s presidential election.

Section 301 investigations have been announced over allegations of illegal timber sourcing in Vietnam and suspicions of currency fixing. Specific rates and HTS numbers are still unknown, but our experts expect heavy impacts on the furniture industry. Comments on the investigations are open until November 12th. 

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is beginning the process of rewriting the global Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes. The HTS codes, which are rewritten every 4-6 years, will be published for use at the start of 2022. The changes can have widespread impacts on classifications and duty rates, so now may be a good time to connect with your customs broker to prepare.

Ocean

CMA CGM has restored all online services after a cyberattack crippled their systems at the end of September. Shippers can still expect delays and communication issues as the carrier gets back up to speed, but they may be in for a pleasant surprise as well. CMA CGM wiped storage charges for many shippers, and the carrier is actively seeking tariff publication relief and other means to mitigate additional costs.

Equipment shortages continue throughout the Asian Pacific. Many are still fighting for space and containers, and many blank sailings still linger as we approach the holiday season.

Air

Air freight rates are increasing steadily as we bear the brunt of peak season. Capacity remains relatively constrained, but continues to improve after delays from closures due to the Chinese Golden Week holiday.

Trucking

U.S. trucking capacity remains low, but relatively stable. Domestic spot market rates are still rising, but less rapidly than they have in recent weeks. 

Cargo owners can expect delays in the Northwestern U.S. as carriers continue to reroute to avoid lingering Canadian port congestion. Impacts can also be felt along the Southern border as Texas, Louisiana, and the rest of the region recover from Hurricane Delta.

CMA CGM Still Recovering, Massive Delays at Canadian Ports, and IMO Investigating Demurrage Charges

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Supply chain activity is still moving slowly this week, as CMA CGM continues to fight to regain control over their systems after a massive cyberattack. Communication with the shipping giant remains strained, and many of their sites are still down. Late last week, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) also had its systems compromised, causing some delays and service interruptions. Officials at the IMO suspect that the incident is associated with the attack of CMA CGM, but report that communications from both parties remain secure.

Ports

More than a month after the resolution of strikes at the Port of Montreal, shippers across North America are still feeling the effects. The strikes, which crippled operations for a month, caused vessels and rail operators to divert to other ports, leaving major imbalances. As a result, ports across Canada remain severely congested and are expected to remain that way into November.

Ocean

As Trans-pacific demand continues to grow, ocean carriers continue to boost capacity. Although available capacity is set to increase by more than 25% over the next three weeks, some shippers may still be paying extra for guaranteed equipment.

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) gave notice of an inquiry into the handling of demurrage and detention billing by ocean carriers. The inquiry, which will investigate whether carriers charged the wrong parties, is open to comments until November 6th.

Air

Air capacity remains constrained and is expected to stay that way for a while. With peak demand remaining high for electronics and other holiday goods from Asia, some are looking toward other potential troubles. As the U.S. prepares for a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next spring, some question just how the air cargo market will be impacted.

Trucking

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are celebrating this week, after the opening of the new Gerald Desmond Bridge. The bridge, which has been under construction since 2013, will improve the flow of traffic and hopefully ease the massive congestion in the area.

As domestic trucking capacity hits record lows, experts are noting that hiring hasn’t followed pace. The trucking industry, which cut many jobs in spring, is still fighting to recover lost revenue. As such, driver hiring may be delayed as a means to save up cash and keep capacity low.

CMA CGM Under Attack, Customs System Upgrades Cause Delays, and Golden Week Cripples Capacity

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Global supply chains have seen major delays this week as CMA CGM battles a ransomware attack. With primary web communication modes shut down to prevent the spread of the malware, any means of communication the carrier is slow-moving and difficult. This is one of many attacks on major ocean carriers in recent years, and CMA CGM is warning that large amounts of data may have been breached.

Customs

It appears that U.S. Customs officials may be cracking down on late ISFs and document filings. Penalties for late filings—which amount to a $5,000 fee—aren’t often enforced, but they’ve been coming through more frequently in recent weeks. To avoid these costly penalties, make sure you work with your suppliers to ensure your brokers get timely and accurate shipment information.

Customs systems are also undergoing a massive upgrade, which is causing frequent delays and EDI issues. The upgrades are ongoing, and will continue to slow processes down for customs brokers.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) gave the EU the green light to impose tariffs on more than $4 billion worth of U.S. goods. The tariffs are set to target coal producers, farmers and fisheries, in addition to aircraft makers. There seems to be little question as to whether or not the tariffs will be imposed, but rather, whether they’ll be put in place before the election in November.

Ocean

Trans-Pacific spot rates are hitting record highs. As peak season capacity constraints compound with an already-tight market, many major importers are turning to short-term contracts, paying rates much higher than usual just to get product moving.

Air

Golden Week begins today, causing a major capacity crunch for air freight out of Asia. With many manufacturers in China and the surrounding region closed for the 7-day holiday, shippers are fighting to secure outbound space and prepare inventories for holiday shopping season. 

With 2020 throwing typical trade trends out the window, some are questioning just how long peak season will last this year—some predicting rates may stay high and available space may stay low well into December or even mid-Q1 of 20201. 

Trucking

New Hours of Service (HOS) rules went into effect yesterday. The rules give truck drivers more flexibility, and have a shot at alleviating some pressure on the overwhelmed domestic trucking market. Capacity has remained constrained for weeks—mostly around major ports and major producers of school supplies.

Extreme Peak Season in Store, Ocean Capacity is Reinstated, and Merchandise Processing Fees are Increasing

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Trucking

Supply chain leaders are warning that an extreme peak season may be in store this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated truck driver availability issues, and experts don’t expect that to let up before we hit the peak of the holiday shipping season. 

Ocean

As shipping activity picks up, all three major ocean alliances have formally reinstated all capacity, cancelling blank sailings for the remainder of the year. Many are also fighting to return empty containers and secure equipment capacity in Asia, as backups mount in getting U.S.-bound goods out of the region. 

Threatening to make the impending peak season even worse, sailors are facing dire conditions aboard container ships. Due to travel restrictions set in place to quell the spread of COVID-19, many crew members have been essentially stranded on their ships for spans as long as 14 months. Some shippers are facing major fines for breaching international maritime law, and crew members face exhaustion, deteriorating living conditions, and limited food supplies.

Customs

More exclusion extensions trickle in as we approach a series of fall deadlines. Two lists of exclusions were extended this week, now set to expire at the end of the year. Check the extension notices for headings 9903.88.58 and 9903.88.59 to see if your imports are on them. 

Merchandise Processing Fees (MFPs) will be changing come October 1st. The fees, charged as a percentage of overall value for every U.S. import, have increased. These changes aren’t likely to have dramatic impacts on businesses, but we’re happy to help you plan for them.

After last week’s news of a challenge to the Trump administration’s expansion of tariffs on Chinese goods, nearly 3,000 cases were filed with the U.S. Court of International Trade. What comes next is unclear, but should any of the cases succeed in court, legal experts recommend that those who did not file a case of their own file a protest in junction. Interested in filing a protest? We can help.

Air

Air freight is certainly no exemption to the strains of the incoming peak season, especially as Chinese Golden Week approaches. The holiday, which spans from October 1st through October 7th, will cause downtime and delays, leaving shippers scrambling to get outbound cargo space prior to the start of the holiday.

Ports

The chassis shortage continues, as major carriers urge cargo owners to return empty containers. Many of these containers have been used to store imports amid lowered consumer demand, leaving carriers largely powerless.

Canadian Pacific Railway and Maersk have announced plans to build a transload and distribution facility in Vancouver, expanding options for imports through Canada. The facility, which has no anticipated completion date, promises to offer more efficient and more sustainable options for cargo owners, as Maersk focuses its efforts on combating climate change.

WTO, Importers Challenge Section 301 Tariffs, Chinese Authorities Lean on Carriers, Shippers Brace for Peak Season

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Customs 

Section 301 tariffs are under legal scrutiny this week. On Tuesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the U.S. broke global trade regulations with the tariffs levied on Chinese goods, asserting “that the United States had not met its burden of demonstrating that the measures are provisionally justified.” While the ruling exacerbates an already-tense relationship between the United States and the WTO, the organization has little power to take any action against the tariffs.

The tariffs are also facing domestic challengers, as a group of U.S. importers has filed a complaint with the Court of International Trade. The lawsuit, which seeks refunds on all Section 301 tariffs paid on lists 3 and 4A, claims that the USTR failed to determine legal basis for the trade action, exceeded legal time limits, and failed to provide adequate time for comments, among other complaints. Importers of products impacted by List 3 or 4A are being urged to also file independent claims by Friday, September 18, 2020.  

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it would be dropping the 10% tariffs on Canadian Aluminum imports. Experts warn, however, that tariffs may still be retroactively imposed based on a system of quotas set on import levels. 

As demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) levels out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still struggling to regulate imports. Recent reports of seizures of hundreds of thousands of counterfeit N-95 masks and hazardous sanitization products make it clear that the market for PPE is still largely unpredictable and difficult to regulate. 

Ocean 

As trans-Pacific rates hit record highs, Chinese authorities are stepping in. After many carriers enjoyed one of the most profitable second quarters in a decade, the Chinese ministry of transportation and communications is now pushing carriers to add capacity and holding down spot rates. 

Air 

Forwarders are fighting to secure air capacity for the rest of the year as many anticipate a strained peak season. Many predictions show an ecommerce-heavy fourth quarter, which has many bracing for capacity crunches and potential rate hikes as we approach the holiday season. 

Ports 

Backups at Southern ports aren’t easing as hurricanes and tropical storm season continues to batter Gulf states. This week, major hubs like the Port of New Orleans closed as Hurricane Sally made its way through the area. 

China’s container traffic has become a promising indicator of recovery for global supply chains, as container traffic for the first two weeks of September rose 9% over last year. 

Trucking 

Trucking capacity grows more and more constrained across the country as cargo that has been slowed suddenly swings into peak season. The current market remains highly unpredictable, with truckers in control over capacity and rates.  

HOS emergency rules have been extended through the end of 2020, although demands for essential goods and PPE appear to have leveled out. 

Equipment Shortages Spread, Increasing Spot Rates, and More Expiring Exclusions

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Customs 

Over the next few weeks, more Section 301 tariff exclusion lists are set to expire. Keep an eye on any imports that may be included in soon-expiring lists—the nearest of which will expire on September 20th and 23rd. As we near the end of the year, the fate of these tariffs and trade relations with China overall remain in question as President Trump warns of increasing such measures should he be re-elected. If you need any help managing tariffs and exclusions, reach out to a Navegate Customs expert. 

Ocean 

Spot rates continue to rise despite added capacity in trans-Pacific lanes. Import surges continue, driving spot rates to as much as 140% higher than this time last year. Whether these trends will continue into peak season is uncertain. 

Equipment shortages are growing and raising alarms as we prepare for fall. Importers in the U.S. and Europe are struggling to return containers to major Asian manufacturing hubs, casting doubt on how prepared international supply chains are for coming shipping surges. Many warn that shortages will get much worse before they get better. 

Air 

Demand continues to outpace air freight capacity. Many are raising concerns about the implications on peak season, as demand for e-commerce products remains high amongst consumers. Online shopping is keeping trans-Pacific volumes high as U.S. consumers hesitate to return to brick-and-mortar stores. 

Trucking 

Recent trucking capacity shortages and rate increases don’t seem to be going away anytime soon, as trucking employment remains down 5.5% from this time last year. Some have accused trucking companies of manipulating capacity, but large U.S. trucking companies blame high costs and economic struggles in keeping them from hiring more drivers. 

An Uncertain Peak Season, Backups Along the West Coast, and Air Freight Rates Continue to Increase

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Ocean  

Change seems incessant in 2020, and ocean freight’s peak season is among those changes. There has been a significant shift away from in-store shopping in favor of e-commerceand this altered consumer behavior has resulted in more imported goods from e-commerce retailers while traditional big box stores are scrambling to replenish supply for the holiday season. This has driven ocean rates to extreme highs, and it has reduced the idle fleet size as carriers re-activate ships to handle increased capacity. 

While the capacity is tightening on the waters, Maersk has undertaken a significant restructuring by absorbing Damco and Safmarine into their own brand. This will affect roughly 27,000 jobs, and Maersk hopes it will increase their ability to provide excellent customer service. 

Ports 

Ports along the Gulf Coast are returning to normal operations this week after twin storms rocked southern states. Category 4 Hurricane Laura quickly downgraded to a tropical depression after making landfall in Louisiana and Texas, rendering most ports in the area able to return to normal business hours over the weekend. The storm did cause some significant damage, however, as cleanup efforts cause delays for rail shippers. 

Fees and delays are stacking up at West Coast ports. Shippers at the Port of Vancouver are facing waits of up to two weeks as backups spread throughout Canada from strikes at the Port of Montreal.  

As volumes surge at ports in the U.S., Union Pacific has increased surcharges for small shippers out of Los Angeles yet again. Small shippers will face a $5,000 charge for excess cargo as a means to mitigate skyrocketing demand. 

Air 

With roughly half of the world’s airplane fleet still grounded, fast-approaching product launches and the eventual release of a COVID-19 vaccine have elevated airfreight prices and reduced certainty for price trends as we approach Q4. China to North America lanes are roughly 20% more expensive than this time last year, and in a move to apparently adjust to this, UPS has raised surcharges on parcels from the region 30% starting on August 30.  

Customs  

Last week, the U.S Trade Representative (USTR) extended Section 301 List 4 exclusions that were set to expire on Tuesday through the end of the year. Over the next few weeks, keep an eye on more lists that are set to expire September 20th and 23rd. 

Trucking  

Time-sensitive e-commerce and PPE shipments are flooding Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the volume has caused a 13% increase in lead times from July to August. Chassis and labor shortages at the ports have also compounded these constraints, and experts expect the current conditions to persist through the year. 

Hurricane Laura Makes Landfall, Airlines Move Toward Freight, Hong Kong Origin Deadline Extended

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Hurricane Laura

Just as Tropical Storm Marco made landfall in U.S. Gulf states, Hurricane Laura was been upgraded to Category 4, which is already responsible for at least 9 deaths in the Caribbean. As the hurricane made landfall Texas and Louisiana this morning, many port facilities are closed, and carriers are expecting major delays. Brace for capacity crunches as ports become difficult to access and as truckers help move relief supplies to those impacted. As the storm develops, we hope our friends in southern states stay safe. 

Air  

As the passenger air travel slump continues, major airlines are redirecting their resources. American Airlines recently reported intentions to cut 19,000 jobs, and Delta and others have announced similar layoffs and furloughs. American Airlines has also recently announced plans to stop service to numerous small cities across the U.S. Simultaneously, many airlines are announcing plans to increase air freight capacity, signaling a shift in focus toward the struggling cargo market. Impacts of the increasing capacity remain unclear as airlines struggle to protect revenue as federal aid runs out. 

New Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules elevating the security burden on businesses exporting by air are set to be enacted in July 21. The rules place a significant security burden on warehouses, 3PLs, and forwarders, as TSA seeks to apply the same stringent guidelines that exist for passengers to cargo, too. 

The Port of New York and New Jersey has started to see cargo backlogs of 3 – 5 days, leaving shippers waiting to get their goods on rail or in a truck. The increased volume is likely due to shippers trying to avoid sky high rates to the U.S. west coast in favor of relatively normal rates to the U.S. east coast. 

Customs 

The deadline for U.S. importers to comply with the recent executive order and denote Chinese origin for goods manufactured in Hong Kong has been extended. Originally slated to go into effect on September 25th, the executive order will be effective on November 9th 

As the U.S. and China struggle through phases of their collective trade deal, import volumes from China are skyrocketing alongside Americans’ demand for manufactured goods. Experts attribute the seemingly counterintuitive trend to heightened demand for home furnishings as work-from-home arrangements persist and spending habits veering toward physical goods and away from travel. The demand has also launched rates to the U.S. west coast well above usual levels. 

The U.S. and the EU are also making headway in normalizing trade relations, as the two parties agreed to roll back tariffs on a variety of goods in a joint statement. American lobsters were the main concession granted by the EU, and the U.S. agreed to ease up on a variety of European products in return. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is beginning to implement new protocols as the agency inserts itself into the importation process. Importers are now able to report registered products as part of their entry, and CPSC will have a hand in inspections and examinations of products the agency deems “of interest”. 

Ocean 

Likely boosted by increased volume from China, trans-Pacific rates to the U.S. west coast are high and only expected to get higher. An expected General Rate Increase (GRI) on September 1st may push rates above $4,000 per FEU – over double the costs reported just a few months ago. The U.S. east coast is already seeing increased traffic as shippers get creative to avoid the congestion and cost of the west coast, and this will likely continue if the GRI is implemented as expected. 

Ports 

The strike at the Port of Montreal is seemingly moving towards a resolution, as longshore workers agreed to move containers carrying critical goods. While a final resolution has not been reached, cargo will start to move, but the backlog built up during the strike could impact the flow of goods for weeks to come. 

Union Pacific Railroad will start charging $500 on all excess contract cargo out of Seattle on September 6th. This surcharge has been implemented at other UP-serviced ports on the west coast as the company adjusts to increased volumes after a major slump earlier in the year. 

Trucking 

The Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) has filed a complaint with the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) that alleges ocean carriers are distorting the cost of chassis usage. This complaint comes at a time when the industry is struggling to meet chassis demands at several ports, truckers are seeking $1.8B in damages related to overcharges for chassis.  

Capacity constraints on truckers aren’t easing up anytime soon, as inland ports are feeling the demand for trucks and the east coast continues to have high demand. With Hurricane Laura approaching the Gulf of Mexico, expect to see major capacity constraints as trucks are tapped to aid in relief and rebuilding efforts. 

 

A Delay in Section 301 Extensions, the Chassis Shortage Grows, and Air Freight Rates Set to Soar

By | COVID-19 Latest Updates | No Comments

Customs

More exclusions are on the chopping block as extension deadlines approach. A list of exclusions is set to expire on September 1, and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has yet to post extensions.

Additionally, the USTR announced that due to technical issues, the list of exclusions that were extended on August 6th are temporarily inactive until August 25th. Those with imports to clear customs before then will face standard tariff rates until the 25th, when they’ll be able to file for duty reimbursement.

Trucking

The chassis shortage on the U.S. West Coast continues. Out-of-service chassis seem to be a large part of the problem, so equipment providers in Southern California are rushing to repairs. The FMCSA is also stepping in, approving a request on Tuesday to expedite mechanic training to increase the numbers of those available to make repairs. The chassis shortage, however, has started to spread to the Ports of New York and New Jersey, which are struggling to find open chassis and warehouse space

Ocean

U.S. imports saw a significant upswing in July with west coast ports seeing a nearly 3% bump in volume compared to the same time last year. Unfortunately, this piece of good news is not an indicator of the start of recovery, as experts remain unsure how U.S. consumers will behave this fall given the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Air

Spurred by retail activity, a persistent need for PPE and disappearing ocean carrier capacity, air cargo rates are high and likely to continue getting higher throughout the fall. This surge in pricing is not likely to reach the unprecedented levels seen in March and April, as airlines like American Airlines have spent months retrofitting passenger planes to carry cargo in anticipation of heightened demand and this will likely provide shippers some relief.

Ports

The Canadian government is not taking a side in the ongoing strike at the Port of Montreal as it drags into the 10th straight day. The unionized longshore workers, without a contract since December 2018, are holding up commerce at the port so significantly that nearby Port of Halifax has seen a drastic increase in activity coming from ships being diverted away from Montreal.

In an attempt to root out corruption, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has declared his intention to cancel a 50-year contract granting operating right to the Port of Veracruz to one private company.

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