COVID-19 Latest Updates

Ocean and Air Rates Remain Stagnant, Congestion Continues at U.S. West Coast Ports, and Christmas Tree Season Limits Trucking Capacity

By November 12, 2020 No Comments


Ocean freight rates remain stable, but space and equipment are still difficult to find in Asia. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications of China has told ocean carriers rates cannot be increased to a higher rate level than the rates quoted on September 15th, so it’s expected that the current rates will be the ceiling rates for the year. Space and equipment will continue to be extremely tight until after Chinese New Year. Because of these shortages, expect some shipments to be delayed. Booking four weeks in advance is still necessary, however, in order to have the best possible chance of securing a container and a booking as soon as possible. For the next three weeks, there is virtually no space on vessels unless a booking is cancelled, so reach out to one of our Customs Experts if you need help navigating these issues.


The European Union imposed tariffs on U.S. imports this week. On Tuesday, November 10th, the EU placed $4 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. imports as part of a long-running transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies

In Vietnam, more Section 301 investigations have been opened, alleging illegal timber sourcing and suspicions of currency fixing. Specific rates and HTS numbers are still unknown and it could amount to tariff rates of 200% or more. Comments on the investigations are open until today (November 12th). It is possible that a decision on the investigation will not be made for another 30 days. 

Section 232 tariffs on aluminum from Canada have been reversed by President Donald Trump. This reverse applies retroactively to September 1st, however, any imports of aluminum subject to the tariffs before September 1st will still be subject to the tariffs upon entry for consumption, according to the President. 

It is a triennial year for customs brokers. Starting on December 15th, customs brokers will need to file a status report with U.S. Customs Border and Protection (CPB). The deadline to file the status report will most likely be in February – three years after the 2018 deadline. 


Hurricane Eta makes landfall in Florida, which may cause shipping issues. If the storm heads up the coast, it will likely worsen capacity in areas like Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC. 

Congestion and delays continue at U.S. West Coast ports. For the past couple of weeks, congestion has increased and so far, congestion hasn’t been ameliorated or exacerbated. There are shortages of 20’ and 45’ containers, while 40’ containers are also seeing delays between 5-15 days. Vessels are anchoring offshore waiting for a berth for unloading. Shipping lines are combatting waiting times while anchored by slow steaming en route, which further increases transit times. If you have any issues navigating these delays, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Freight Experts.


Air freight rates remain stagnant but still high. With ocean capacity remaining tight for the next several weeks and months, air freight rates are as high as they were when the COVID-19 pandemic first started in March and April and are remaining that way for the foreseeable future. Because of this increase, capacity remains tight and delays are expected. 


There are trucking shortages in certain areas as Christmas tree season starts next week. Capacity will worsen in Christmas tree producing areas such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and northern California. Stores are usually stocked by Thanksgiving and with no Black Friday this year, some trees may be shipped even earlier. These trucking shortages may continue until after Christmas as people continue to order trees throughout the holiday season.