U.S. West Coast Ports Could Lose Up to 45% of Intermodal Imports to Rival B.C. Ports

cargo train

A study commissioned by the Pacific Maritime Association warns that high terminal charges, U.S. rail costs and other competitive factors could cause U.S. West Coast ports to lose up to 45% of intermodal import business to rival ports in B.C. by 2030.

The two B.C. container ports, especially Prince Rupert, have cost advantages of several hundred dollars per import FEU-load over both the San Pedro Bay gateway and the Puget Sound gateway for intact intermodal imports from Asia to the mainland metro markets that the Canadian National Railway and/or Canadian Pacific Railway serve.

The U.S. markets most vulnerable to Canadian competition are Chicago, Memphis, Minneapolis, and Detroit, which collectively account for nearly 45% of all intact intermodal volume moving through U.S. West Coast ports.

For intact intermodal cargo, the report found that the two B.C. ports have significant route cost advantages as high as $600 per container over U.S. West Coast ports.

With projects currently under at both B.C. ports that will add significant additional capacity at both terminals, U.S. West Coast ports will face further challenges with respect to volume and share loss.

Click here to read the full report.

Liner Schedule Reliability Hits Record Low as Rates Peak

Average global liner schedule reliability hit an all-time low in August, according to a new study from Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence.

Reliability in August across all trade lanes stood at 63.7% meaning less than two out of three ships got to their destination on time, despite the fact that clients were paying record high rates for late deliveries. 

Sea-Intelligence has detected a gradual decline in global reliability since 2015, but this recent measurement is below the overall long-term trend.

The decline in reliability is likely to cause increased friction between carriers and shippers, after months of mounting tensions.

(Source: Splash 247)

Asian Shippers Facing Capacity Squeeze

Shippers in Asia are facing equipment shortages and tight shipping capacity that is driving an aggressive spike in short-term contract rates.

Vessels to North Europe and the US west coast are reportedly “fully booked for two to three weeks after Golden Week”, according to one Shanghai-based NVOCC source.

“Additionally, some of the carriers just do not have any 40ft high-cube containers at their depots, so even if we could get a booking, we can’t get hold of the boxes,” he said.

In its latest Container Availability Index (CAx) update, Container XChange reports container availability “dropping across Asian ports”, and doesn’t see the situation improving promptly.

In addition to ramping up empty container repositioning programs at the expense of backhaul loads, to mitigate the shortages, carriers have also tightened up on the time allowed to pick up equipment before export loading in China, and reduced the free time for restitution in Europe and the U.S.

Carriers have been relatively quiet on vessel utilization levels in past weeks, but a press release from HMM confirms the strength of demand since early May when HMM Algeciras, the first of its newbuild 24,000 teu ULCVs, sailed from China to Europe with a full load of 19,621 teu.

Subsequently, all 12 of the ULCV series, the biggest container vessels by capacity in the world, had departed from Asia on their maiden voyages, fully laden – a scenario that had seemed extremely unlikely at the start of the global pandemic in March.

The delivery of the 12 ULCVs was perfect timing for the embattled South Korean carrier, which had suffered 21 consecutive quarters of negative results. The state-supported line managed to achieve its first quarterly net profit in over five years between April and June, of $23m.

(Source: The Load Star)

Trump COVID-19 Hospitalization Obfuscates Trade Agenda

COVID-19 mask

Some trade issues could be left unresolved if the president’s COVID-19 symptoms worsen and he has to cut back on official duties before the election, experts told Politico Morning Trade.

Major executive actions, like new moves on the TikTok or WeChat bans, and issues where the president has taken special interest, like EU aircraft tariffs, could take a backseat if the president has to reduce his workload.

Some trade experts say the White House may be goaded into more protectionist actions — especially against China — to try to change the subject in the coming weeks if Trump’s condition continues to dominate the headlines.

“He is a master of distraction and changing the subject, so I definitely would expect something,” said Bill Reinsch, a former Clinton trade official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Since both candidates are accusing each other of being soft on China, I can see him being tempted to do something to show he’s tough, however counterproductive it might be.”

Former officials and trade experts say his lauded Maine lobster, Wisconsin dairy and Florida seasonal crop deals — to name a few — could help him garner support from voters in the states he needs for reelection.

“The advantage of incumbency is you can do things and take action and enact your policies that have positive political impact for you,” said Tim Keeler, a former USTR and Treasury Department official. “It can’t hurt him.”

While he’s failed to deliver on some of his bigger promises including a full-on Japan deal, phase two China deal or breakthrough with the European Union or India, experts suggest a strategy to showcase the small wins and anticipated benefits of USMCA.

(Source: Politico Weekly Trade)

North American Supply Chains Continue to Feel Impact of Port of Montreal Strike


Following a strike by dockworkers that lasted for one month and paralyzed operations at the Port of Montreal in August and September of this year, Resilience360 research indicates that major ports both on the west and east coast of Canada continue to experience disruption ranging from port congestion to rail car shortages.

Click here to review the Port of Montreal strike.

“While the strike ended more than four weeks ago, ocean and rail dependent supply chain operations across Canada are unlikely to fully normalize before November 2020,” says Neža Kričaj, Supply Chain Risk Analyst, Resilience360. “Supply chain managers are therefore advised to adjust their routes and shipments accordingly, and explore options to divert cargo to alternative modes of transportation wherever possible.”

“At Montreal, some shippers are reportedly using truck delivery instead of rail to reach Toronto faster and terminals are also offering short-sea services to Toronto,” she said.

She added that the impact has yet to felt by U.S. West Coast supply chain managers.

“In the short term, there might be some expedited ocean services that bypass the Canadian ports, but most large vessels on West coast rotations call first at the Canadian ports after crossing from East Asia so the big volumes will continue to go through there. Vessels delays might actually trickle down into US ports such as Tacoma and Seattle as well,” she said.

In the long term, however, Canadian ports will not only have a cost and time advantage, but also more capacity as they expand terminals and could actually divert more cargo from U.S. west coast ports, she added.

On the east coast, large amounts of container backlogs continue to be cleared and port operations are expected to return to normal by early October.

The imbalance of rail cars in the network, coupled with large incoming volumes and labor shortages, have also caused severe congestion at ports on Canada’s west coast since last month. The rail car imbalance was partly caused by vessel diversions to east coast ports due to the strike at the Port of Montreal. Carriers expect the situation to normalize by October.

We encourage you to reach out to us for guidance around how to navigate these complex freight issues as we continue to move through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available, and are always available to answer any questions or concerns. 

(Source: Logistics Management)

Canada Not Benefitting From CETA

Canada EU flags

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau admits the country is not benefiting from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union.

Expected to reach $1.5 billion in new agri-food exports, the deal has fallen short of those targets since being implemented in 2017.

In a September 21st letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, five former premiers wrote the deal has “failed to deliver on its promises for Canada’s agri-food exporters.”

“This outcome results from the EU Commission and EU member states continuing to impose a wide range of trade barriers for pork, beef, canola, sugar and grains, or failing to reduce those that were to be lowered or eliminated altogether through CETA,” reads the letter penned by former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and others.

During her virtual appearance at Politico’s Agriculture and Food Summit on September 25, Bibeau emphasized Canada’s commitment to advocating for rules and science-based trading with its partners, including the EU.

During her appearance at the Politico event, Bibeau highlighted Canada’s work to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO), saying it’s important that the international body “is strong and functioning well.”

She didn’t close the door on including agricultural subsidies as part of the discussions to succeed in that reform. Developing countries, particularly some in South America, have contended subsidies offered by the EU, the United States, Canada and other create an unfair global agri-food trading environment.

(Source: The Western Producer)

Automakers Sue U.S. Government Over Tariffs on Chinese Imports

mercedes-benz car

Automakers Tesla, Volvo, Ford and Mercedes-Benz have sued the U.S. government over tariffs on Chinese goods, demanding customs duties paid on imports be returned, with interest.

The lawsuits were filed over the past days in the New York-based Court of International Trade and concern tariffs imposed by the U.S. Trade Representative on imports from China, which Tesla in its filing called “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”

The duties came amid a wider trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, and the automakers are asking for the tariffs to be revoked and any money paid to import parts returned.

Mercedes in its filing accused Washington of “prosecution of an unprecedented, unbounded and unlimited trade war impacting over $500 billion in imports from the People’s Republic of China,” and argued U.S. law “did not confer authority on defendants to litigate a vast trade war for however long, and by whatever means, they choose.”

The lawsuits target the expansion of tariffs by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. 

China and the U.S. signed their “phase one” trade deal earlier this year that partially ended the dispute, under which China promised to buy $200 billion in U.S. goods and Washington backed down on tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese goods, particularly consumer electronics.

The U.S. also slashed by half 15% tariffs on $120 billion in goods but kept in place 25% duties on $250 billion in imports, which some of the automakers cited in their lawsuits.

Beijing has retaliated for these levies, while Washington is aiming both to reduce its trade deficit and reform Chinese business practices it considers “unfair.”

The Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit in July surged nearly 11% to $63.6 billion, with the deficit with China climbing to $28.3 billion.

(Source: VOA)

Trump to Approve $22B Railway Between Alaska and Alberta

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will grant approval to a $22-billion freight rail project connecting Alaska and Alberta.

The president tweeted Friday that based on the recommendations of Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, he will be issuing a presidential permit approving the A2A Rail project. 

The project would build a new rail line from Fort McMurray, Alta., through the Northwest Territories and Yukon to the Delta Junction in Alaska, where it will connect with existing rail and continue on to ports near Anchorage. 

The 2,570-kilometre railway could move cargo like oil, potash and ore, container goods, or even passengers. 

Christine Myatt, a spokesperson for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, said in an emailed statement that the premier welcomed the approval.

Kent Fellows, an economist at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said while oil is likely the main driver for the project, it’s not the only advantage to bringing a rail line up north.

“Rail has some advantages and some drawbacks compared to pipelines,” he said.

“You can diversify a little bit … you don’t just have to haul crude oil. You can hold a lot of other commodities, too, as long as there’s a market for it. So market access is big, not just for crude oil.”

Fellows said as well as carrying Alberta or Yukon goods to international markets, the line could be used for imports, too.

“That’s the whole point of trade. It’s a two-way street.”

The next steps will include going through environmental impact assessments, and obtaining the correct regulatory approvals in both the U.S. and Canada. 

In July, A2A Rail commissioned an engineering firm to begin surveying land along the Alberta segment of the proposed route. It said it planned to begin field activities like land clearing, fencing and access road preparation in the province in the next three to six months. 

“The new rail line will create new economic development opportunities for a wide range of businesses, communities and Indigenous communities in Canada and Alaska,” A2A founder Sean McCoshen said in a release at the time.

A2A Rail has said that if built, the project will create more than 18,000 jobs for Canadian workers and bring in $60 billion to the country’s GDP through 2040. 

(Source: CBC News)

Canada Abandoning Free Trade Negotiations With China

Chinese and Canadian flags

Canada is abandoning free trade negotiations with China amid a host of disagreements on a range of topics, according to Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

“I do not see the conditions being present now for these discussions to continue at this time. The China of 2020 is not the China of 2016,” Champagne said about trade negotiations as quoted by The Globe and Mail.

The comments mark a major policy shift towards China that brings Canada more in line with the hardline posture adopted by the United States, Australia and parts of the European Union.

What began as an expressed interest in fostering deeper economic ties between the two countries, has now turned soured after Canadian authorities detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in 2018 at the request of the U.S., which was followed by the arrests of two Canadian nationals on charges of espionage in China.

The tense relationship has been further exacerbated by Canada’s condemnation of the newly enacted Chinese law on national security in Hong Kong and a suspension of some bilateral agreements with the special administrative region.

Beijing has said that it reserves the right to respond to any interference on Canada’s part and the Canadian side will be held accountable for all the consequences.

Despite the tensions, China remains Canada’s second-largest trading partner after the US.

(Source: Economic Times)

CERS Transition Date — September 30, 2020


The Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) is a free, web-based, self-service portal for submitting electronic declarations and Summary Reporting Program monthly reports. It is replacing the Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) system.

All Canadian exporters will have to report in the new system by September 30, 2020. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has recently release new documents to support transition to the new system:

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Carson Freight Services by clicking on the button below.

Please note that Carson has pre-loaded the information of existing Carson Freight clients, effectively registering you for the new CERS system.