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Descartes Releases May Global Shipping Report: April 2024 Containerized Imports Surpass March 2024 and April 2023

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Descartes Releases May Global Shipping Report: April 2024 Containerized Imports Surpass March 2024 and April 2023

Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its May Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. In April 2024, U.S. container import volumes increased 3.0% from March and 9.3% when compared to the same month last year, consistent with a strong and resilient economy in the face of global instability.

Read also: Descartes Releases April Global Shipping Report: March U.S. Import Container Volume Continues Strong Trajectory

After Chinese imports declined significantly in March 2024, they bounced back in April 2024 to levels seen in April 2023. Port transit delays continue to improve for the majority of top U.S. ports, as there has been little impact on volumes at East and Gulf Coast ports from either the Panama drought or the Middle East conflict, which continues to escalate. May’s update of logistics metrics monitored by Descartes shows continued strength in U.S. container imports following the robust first quarter of 2024. Global supply chain disruptions are still anticipated, however, given the ongoing conditions at the Panama and Suez Canals, upcoming labor negotiations at U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, the Middle East conflict, and reduced U.S. port capacity caused by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in March.

Month-over-month and year-over-year, U.S. economy proves to be robust in April 2024.

Versus April 2023, U.S. container import volume in April 2024 was up 9.3%, demonstrating exceptional year-over-year performance (see Figure 1). April 2024 volumes edged up from March 2024, increasing 3% to 2,208,849 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Descartes’ April report, however, noted that the effects of Chinese Lunar Year may have masked stronger growth in March 2024, which likely also softened April’s growth. Compared to pre-pandemic April 2019, volume was up 15.1%.

Figure 1. U.S. Container Import Volume Year-over-Year Comparison

 Source: Descartes Datamyne™

“Despite the March closure at the Port of Baltimore, U.S. imports showed strong performance in April, as they have since January 2024 as compared to 2023,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry, Descartes. “Port delays also showed continued improvement in April, as volumes at East and Gulf Coast ports have experienced little impact from either the Panama drought or Middle East conflict.”

red sea pirate global trade

Renewed Piracy Menace Endangers Red Sea Shipping Routes

The resurgence of piracy in the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa poses a grave threat to maritime security, with recent attacks by Somali pirates sparking renewed concerns for international trade and the safety of crew members. Exploiting the diversion of naval forces’ attention towards the Houthi crisis, Somali pirates have resurfaced, casting a shadow of fear and instability over the region.

The “Abdullah” Incident: A Grim Reminder

In a harrowing incident off the coast of Mogadishu, the 58,000-ton cargo ship “Abdullah” fell prey to pirate aggression. Pirates boarded the vessel, subjecting the 20-man crew to threats of violence unless their ransom demands were met. Audio messages from crew members to their families paint a chilling picture of the ordeal. Lacking private armed guards and evasive tactics, “Abdullah” was an easy target, highlighting the vulnerability of ships traversing these waters. Regrettably, the “Abdullah” incident is not an isolated occurrence. The Maritime Safety Centre in the Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) has reported six confirmed piracy cases and three attempted attacks in recent months. While tankers like “Central Park” and “Ruen” were eventually released following intervention by US and Indian forces, others like “Lila Norfolk” and “Waimea” faced off piracy attempts with exchanged gunfire.

Read also: Maersk Warns of Continued Red Sea Disruptions, Affecting Global Shipping Capacity

Urgent Measures Needed

With naval resources stretched thin by the Houthi crisis, the onus falls on ship owners and managers to bolster security measures. Ambrey, a security company, underscores the vulnerability of vessels like “Abdullah” due to inadequate safeguards. The absence of private armed guards, evasive maneuvers, and deterrents like barbed wire or water hoses renders ships easy prey for pirates. Despite the perilous situation, the crew of “Abdullah” remains safe, with Meherul Karim, Managing Director of SR Shipping, affirming relentless efforts to negotiate for their swift and secure release.

A History of Persistent Threat

Piracy in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa region is a longstanding menace. Somalia’s political instability and maritime policing shortcomings have long provided fertile ground for pirate activities. The 2000s witnessed a surge in piracy, with Somali pirates orchestrating numerous attacks, resulting in the kidnapping of sailors and hijacking of ships.

International Response and Ongoing Challenges

The international community responded robustly to the piracy surge, deploying multinational naval forces and implementing stringent security protocols. While initial efforts yielded significant reductions in piracy incidents, recent years have seen a troubling resurgence, with 2023 recording 120 reported cases.

Coordinated Action for Sustained Vigilance

Piracy remains a persistent threat, underscoring the imperative for continuous vigilance and collaboration across all stakeholders. Governments, international bodies, shipowners, and managers must work in concert to counter piracy effectively, bolster maritime policing, enhance security measures, and address underlying issues such as poverty and instability. Embracing technological advancements can further fortify efforts to safeguard shipping routes and protect crew members.

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Maersk Warns of Continued Red Sea Disruptions, Affecting Global Shipping Capacity

A. P. Moller Maersk, a leading container shipping company, has issued a stark warning about the ongoing disruptions in the Red Sea, indicating significant repercussions for the industry’s capacity in the second quarter.

Read also: Rising Spot Rates and Container Demand Surge in the Wake of Red Sea Turmoil, ahead of the Chinese New Year

Recent attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi militants have escalated tensions in the region, prompting Maersk to project a notable reduction of shipping capacity between the Far East and Europe by 15%-20% in the coming months. These disruptions force vessels to take longer routes, resulting in increased voyage times and freight rates.

Since December, Maersk and other shipping companies have rerouted vessels around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to circumvent the risk zone in the Red Sea. However, the expanded threat area and persistent attacks have extended journey times, amplifying costs and logistical challenges.

Maersk anticipates that these disruptions will persist until the year’s end, leading to bottlenecks, vessel congestion, and shortages of equipment and capacity. In response, the company is implementing measures to enhance reliability, including faster sailing and the addition of capacity, with over 125,000 additional containers already leased.

The ongoing disruptions in the Red Sea are part of a broader geopolitical context, with tensions in the region heightened by recent strikes targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities. Despite efforts to safeguard shipping lanes, the continued disruptions underscore the profound impact on global trade and shipping operations.

As the industry navigates these challenges, Maersk’s warning serves as a reminder of the complex interplay between geopolitical tensions and maritime commerce, highlighting the urgent need for strategic solutions to ensure the stability and resilience of global supply chains.

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Explosion Near Yemen’s Mokha: Vessel Sustains Damage but Crew Safe Amid Rising Tensions

An explosion reported near Yemen’s Mokha has caused damage to a vessel, yet fortunately, the crew remains safe as they continue towards their next port of call, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency. Concurrently, British maritime security firm Ambrey has revealed that a Malta-flagged container ship in the same vicinity was allegedly targeted with three missiles while en route from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The incident occurs against the backdrop of ongoing hostilities in the region, with Iran-backed Houthi militants launching drones and missiles against international commercial shipping in the Red Sea since mid-November. Claiming solidarity with Palestinians against Israel’s military actions in Gaza, these attacks have disrupted global shipping routes, necessitating longer and costlier journeys around southern Africa.

Ambrey has further assessed that the targeted vessel may have been singled out due to its listed operator’s trade relations with Israel. In response to the escalating tensions, both the United States and Britain have conducted strikes against Houthi targets. As the situation unfolds, concerns mount over the safety and security of maritime traffic navigating through the volatile Red Sea region.

climate global trade

Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Shipping

The global shipping industry, responsible for transporting approximately 80-90% of goods worldwide, faces a complex landscape of risks intensified by climate change. As temperatures rise and weather patterns become more unpredictable, the impact on shipping routes and operations is profound.

The Good of Climate Change

One positive outcome of climate change is the emergence of new Arctic trade routes, such as the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage. The melting ice opens up shorter paths between continents, potentially reducing travel time and fuel consumption. However, the reliability of these routes remains uncertain due to variable ice conditions and inadequate infrastructure.

The Bad of Climate Change

Conversely, traditional routes like the Panama Canal are facing challenges due to decreasing water levels caused by drought. This leads to longer passage times, increased costs, and congestion at either end of the canal. Additionally, severe weather events pose risks to maritime operations, necessitating costly adaptations in route planning and vessel design.

Read also: Panama Canal Water Levels to impact Westbound Trade Well Into 2024

The Ugly of Climate Change

The utilization of Arctic routes raises geopolitical concerns as nations vie for control over valuable resources. Russia’s military ambitions in the region highlight the potential for conflict, while regulatory and environmental issues surrounding new routes remain unresolved. Marine insurers must navigate these complexities while also adapting to regulatory changes such as IMO2050 and IMO2020.

Read also: Rising Carbon Emissions in Shipping: The Impact of Geopolitical Tensions

How Marine Insurers Are Responding

Marine insurers are investing in loss prevention technologies, focusing on climate change mitigation, and collaborating with the shipping industry to understand evolving risks. This includes embracing digitalization, preparing for extreme weather events, and developing innovative solutions to help clients adapt to a changing climate.

Final Thoughts

As the shipping industry grapples with the challenges of climate change, insurers are at the forefront of innovation and adaptation. By leveraging data, understanding evolving risks, and collaborating with industry stakeholders, insurers are poised to support clients in navigating the complexities of a changing maritime landscape.

shipping

Global Shipping’s Headaches – a Drought and Rocket Fire 

Problems in the Suez and Panama canals continue to drive up delivery costs and exacerbate shipping delays. The Suez Canal is embroiled in a geopolitical mess, with the Yemen-based Houthi rebels attacking vessels in reaction to the war in Gaza. Meanwhile, the Panama Canal’s setbacks are climate-based, where a drought has meant less water to feed the canal’s intricate system of locks that enable ships to cross through the waterway. 

Both issues have resulted in increased shipping costs and lengthy delays. Despite being minor hiccups compared to the bottlenecks produced by Covid in 2020 and 2021, many operators are warning of elevated consumer prices should the difficulties continue. 

In terms of solutions, minimizing Houthi attacks is undoubtedly doable. US coalition retaliatory strikes have eliminated up to a third of the rebel outfit’s assets. The Panama Canal, on the other hand, is in the midst of one of the worst droughts since it became operational. The drought began in mid-2023, and some estimates point to more rainfall come the end of May 2024. 

Roughly 18% of global trade volume passed through the two canals in 2023. Volvo and Tesla already halted vehicle production for two weeks in January due to parts shortages. Many apparel companies are turning to air delivery to ensure spring fashions arrive on time. In 2020 and 2021, shippers passed higher costs to consumers, fomenting inflation across an expansive basket of goods.

During the height of the pandemic, daily freight routes between the US and Asia skyrocketed by nearly five times to over $20,000 per box. Today, Suez interference has resulted in average sailing times lengthening by approximately ten days. Most businesses learned a valuable lesson from the pandemic and built up their inventories to mitigate the risk of running out of goods. Well-stocked warehouses, however, might be the only reason consumers do not feel a bigger effect, and those warehouses cannot remain well-stocked for long.

Approximately 14% of seaborne trade to and from the US comes through the Panama Canal. In normal conditions, the canal handles in the neighborhood of 36 ships crossings daily. That figure fell to 24 in November 2023 and has plummeted further, although some recent rainfall has helped. A crossing typically costs $500,000 per ship, but some desperate operators now pay up to $4 million. 

Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk, and a handful of other large carriers have yet to return to the Red Sea. Others are paying private security to guard against rebel attacks, and Suez toll revenue predictably plummeted by nearly half – $804 million in January 2023 to $428 million in 2024.

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February U.S. Import Container Volume Continues Strong Performance: Descartes

Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its March Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. In February 2024, U.S. container import volumes declined 6% from January, but jumped 23.3% when compared to the same month last year. We would expect the month-over-month results to be smaller as February is a shorter month. The year-over-year results would indicate exceptional growth; however, they do not take into account the impact of the Chinese Lunar New Year on the February 2023 results. The growth is still strong but, based upon Descartes’ analysis, it is more likely to be ~13%, which is further explained below.

Compared to January 2024, imports from China reversed their robust growth in February, which impacted West Coast ports—especially the Port of Long Beach. Lower import volumes benefitted port transit delays as the combination of the Panama drought and Middle East conflict had less impact at the top East and Gulf Coast ports. The March update of the logistics metrics Descartes is tracking shows that 2024 is starting off to be a strong year for U.S. container imports; however, global supply chain performance may be impacted throughout the year because of ongoing conditions at the Panama and Suez Canals and upcoming labor negotiations at U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports.

U.S. container imports show strong growth.

February 2024 U.S. container import volumes decreased 6.0% from January 2024 to 2,137,724 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) (see Figure 1). Versus February 2023, TEU volume was higher by 23.3%, and up 19.5% from pre-pandemic February 2019. There are several reasons for the sharp year-over-year increase that could overstate this February’s results. Leap year occurred in 2024, adding one day of capacity in February. In addition, Chinese Lunar New Year occurred on February 11 this year versus January 22 in 2023, so February 2024 saw no impact on U.S. imports from China while February 2023 did. To gain more clarity on the year-over-year performance, Descartes analyzed TEU volumes for the first 15 days in February of both years where there would be no impact from Chinese Lunar New Year. During this timeframe, the growth in container imports was 13.3%, which is much more representative. Overall, Figure 1 shows that the first two months of 2024 are more in line with the consumer-fueled pandemic growth.

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Source: Descartes Datamyne™

“February 2024 was a strong month considering its brevity and continues the robust performance that started in January 2024,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry and Services, Descartes. “The combined effect of the Panama drought and the conflict in the Middle East on transit times declined in February and volume for the Gulf Coast ports remained constant versus January.”

The March report is Descartes’ thirty-first installment since beginning its analysis in August 2021. To read past reports, learn more about the key economic and logistics factors driving global shipping performance, and review strategies to help minimize global shipping challenges, visit Descartes’ Global Shipping Resource Center.

vessel shipping container cargo global trade logistics

FCL vs. LCL Shipping: Things to Consider

Preparing FCL or LCL shipment can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to shipping and logistics. Both methods have their unique requirements, but there are several key steps you can take to ensure your cargo is ready for transport, whether you’re filling an entire container or sharing space with other shippers. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare for either FCL or LCL shipments:

  • Understand Your Cargo: Before anything else, know the dimensions, weight, and nature of your cargo. 
  • Choose the Right Packaging: Ensure your goods are well-packed for the journey. Use sturdy, HQ packing materials and Fragile items need extra padding, while perishables might require temperature-controlled containers.
  • Label Clearly and Correctly: Every item should be clearly labeled with relevant shipping information like destination, handling instructions, and any hazardous material indications if applicable. 
  • Complete All Documentation: Prepare accurate shipping and customs documentations, including a Bill of Lading, commercial invoice, packing list and export or import forms. 
  • Understand Loading and Unloading Processes: For FCL, you’ll need to arrange for your container to be loaded and sealed at your facility. With LCL, your goods will be consolidated with other cargo, so be aware of the consolidation point and any related processes.
  • Plan for Container Delivery and Return: For FCL, ensure you have the logistics in place for container delivery to your location, loading, and subsequent return of the empty container to the port or container yard.
  • Inspect Your Cargo Before and After Shipping: Inspect your cargo identifying and addressing any damage before it’s loaded into the container and after it arrives at the destination. 
  • Insurance Coverage: Purchase insurance coverage for your shipment for both FCL or LCL to counter the risks during transit as insurance provides financial protection against loss or damage.
  • Comply with Legal and Safety Regulations: Make sure your shipment complies with international shipping laws and safety regulations, especially when shipping hazardous materials. Non-compliance can lead to delays, fines, or confiscation of cargo.

By following these guidelines, you can prepare your cargo effectively for either FCL or LCL shipping, reducing the risk of issues and ensuring a smoother journey for your goods from origin to destination. Remember, successful shipping is all about attention to detail and proactive planning.

intermodal cargo shipping container import logistics chain port containers

Green Pressure Continues to Mount for the Shipping Sector 

The shipping industry offered a collective applause when the International Maritime Organization set its ambitious goal of halving carbon emissions by 2050. Behind the scenes, however, the reception was mixed. While some large operators such as Maersk plan on having a carbon-neutral fleet by 2040, others are beginning to question the viability of such ambition in the face of troubling inflation and elevated operating costs.

 The price tag for new ships, alternative infrastructure, and fuel production needed to lower emissions over the coming decades is roughly $3 trillion (per shipping-services provider Clarksons). Ocean shipping is responsible for approximately 3% of global greenhouse-gas emissions and methanol has emerged as a potential long-term contender to replace fuel oil. A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S ordered 19 ships late last year that can run on a mix of methanol and traditional fuel. Cosco Shipping, China’s state entity, committed to spending $2.9 billion for a dozen methanol-fueled box ships, while France’s CMA CGM SA is set to put into motion six methanol-powered ships.

 While this would appear to be a significant step forward, not every player is on board. The people who work in procurement departments are compensated on their ability to get the best deal possible. Heavier-polluting fuels remain cheaper than their more environmentally friendly alternatives, and this is not going to change anytime soon. According to a survey by the Boston Consulting Group, 82% of firms are willing to pay more for sustainable shipping solutions. Yet, the willingness to pay more falls short of what is needed to reduce emissions in a concrete way.

 One firm that is testing an alternative model is Tapestry, Inc. The owner of the popular Kate Spade and Coach brands has partnered with GoodShipping BV, a Netherlands-based company to test out an emissions-reduction fuel purchase program. Tapestry will continue to book cargo shipments on regular container ships, but in parallel will pay additional fees for biofuels to be implemented in other ships. The company is seeking to reduce its emissions by 42.5% over the coming seven years and these additional fees to non-cargo related ships appear to be a better bet (financially speaking).

 Meanwhile, regulators are expected to pick up the pressure. California has preliminary plans in place to phase out diesel-powered trucks at the golden state’s ports, and a determined proposal of equipping 100% of its docks with battery-electric and hydrogen trucks by 2035. The European Union is moving on the introduction of carbon-emission taxes in 2024 while President Biden has proposed some onerous new standards on heavy-truck emissions.

 A growing fear is too much regulation will invariably squeeze the competition leaving the larger shipping industry in the hands of even fewer firms. This is welcome news for some, but not the greater majority. 

 

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Global Shipping Update: Modicum of Relief as Import Volumes Fall in Line with 2019 Levels

With the second quarter of 2023 on the horizon, importers and logistics service providers (LSPs) are wondering what lies ahead. The economic landscape is anything but predictable and there are conflicting opinions on what direction the economy will take. As for interest rates, they continue to decline but remain high. How is this uncertainty affecting supply chains? 

IMPORT VOLUMES ALIGNING WITH PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS

U.S. container import volumes are declining and shifting back into line with 2019 volumes, to a time before the global pandemic prompted an explosion of ecommerce demand and imports soared to unforeseen heights. Indeed, import volumes saw a significant drop in February, decreasing 16.2% from January 2023 to 1,734,272 TEUs (see Figure 1). Compared to February 2022, TEU volume was down 25.0%—but was only 0.3% lower than pre-pandemic February 2019. 

While box imports continue to follow 2019 volumes, the volume decrease was the greatest of the last seven years, with the exception of February 2020 which marked the start of the pandemic (-17.9%). Notably, after an upward shift in January, Chinese imports into the U.S. returned to a downward trend in February 2023—a trend seen among all of the top countries of origin—with a volume decrease of 17.1% to 632,702 TEUs; China’s downward momentum represents a volume drop of 37.0% from the high in August 2022. 

 

It’s worth noting that February’s volumes may be influenced by multiple factors, including the shorter duration of the month (28 days vs. 31 days in January) and the impact of January’s Chinese Lunar New Year, which would see volumes materialize in late February and early March 2023. 

While overall U.S. container import volume for the Top 10 ports fell by 296,390 TEUs in February 2023 vs. January—all but the Port of Tacoma experienced declines—the volume share at top West Coast ports and top East and Gulf Coast ports remained relatively stable. West Coast ports decreased 2.8% while East and Gulf Coast ports increased 1.6% from January 2023. Compared to smaller ports, market share for the top 10 ports, however, has been steadily declining since mid-2022, with February 2023 representing the lowest share (82.8% of total volume) in the last year.

LESS VOLUME SHORTER WAIT TIMES

Despite fewer goods on the move, port transit delays increased for the top West, East and Gulf Coast ports, indicating ongoing supply chain turbulence. The West Coast ports are faring the worst, as transit times increased from 0.1 to 1.0 days in February compared to January 2023. With the exception of the Port of Long Beach, port transit delays for West Coast ports in February 2023 are now higher than in December 2022 (see Figure 2). 

Figure 2: Monthly Average Transit Delays (in days) for the Top 10 Ports 

Note: Descartes’ definition of port transit delay is the difference as measured in days between the Estimated Arrival Date, which is initially declared on the bill of lading, and the date when Descartes receives the CBP-processed bill of lading.

LINGERING DISRUPTIONS HINDERING FLOW OF GOODS

Whether it’s the long arm of COVID impacting manufacturing supply chains, or labor shortages and uncertainty complicating transport logistics, importers and LSPs continue to face barriers to supply chain performance. COVID continues to impact available supply chain and logistics resources and operations globally. China, in particular, has seen widespread COVID infections after rolling back its zero-COVID restrictions. While the loosening of the country’s pandemic policies was intended to minimize the longer-term disruptions to society and business, the Chinese population has little-to-no immunity and the impact of COVID on manufacturing supply chains could continue for quite some time. 

On the labor front, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have been working without a contract since July 1, 2022. While ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) recently announced that they “continue to negotiate and remain hopeful of reaching a deal soon,” negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement—encompassing more than 22,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports—has been dragging on since May 2022. 

Adding further complexity to the uncertain labor situation, California’s new labor legislation AB5 remains a thorn in the side of the trucking industry, with the risk of future AB5-related stoppages at California ports. This continuing labor uncertainty may be a significant reason why import volumes are not shifting back to major California ports, despite their reduction in transit delay times over the last year plus. 

Importers and LSPs would be wise to keep close tabs on the progress of the ILWU contract negotiations and monitor the impact of AB5 on owner-operators serving California ports for potential disruption or any degradation of container processing performance at the ports.

KEEPING AN EYE ON INFLATION INTO Q2

Companies are watching inflation rates closely as 2023 unfolds. Although the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% in February—slightly less than January’s 0.5% increase—inflation fell to 6% year-over-year, inching in the right direction towards the Fed’s 2% target. However, supercore inflation—representing the cost of services—rose by 0.2% last month and is up almost 7% from a year ago. For example, package delivery costs have risen 14.4% in the last year, as of February 2023.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, gasoline costs, a significant contributor to high inflation rates, decreased slightly in February to $3.34/gallon and somewhat stabilized. Diesel costs were also down slightly to $4.29/gallon, nearing February 2022 prices. Although stabilized, fuel costs are likely to remain elevated due to the disruption of global energy markets caused by the war in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia.

MANAGING SUPPLY CHAIN RISK

With the myriad of challenges impacting supply chain performance, importers and LSPs should stay proactive in their approach to designing and executing their logistics and supply chain strategy. In the short term, evaluating and understanding the impact of inflation and the Russia/Ukraine conflict on logistics costs and capacity constraints is critical for clearing a path ahead, while making sure key trading partners are not on sanctions lists mitigates potential penalties and further delays.

In the near term, importers and LSPs should focus on improving supply chain velocity, reliability, and predictability by looking for less congested transportation lanes, including smaller ports, and evaluating alternative transportation lanes into the U.S. To allay the risk of another logistics capacity crisis in the long term, companies may consider evaluating supplier and factory location density to minimize reliance on over-taxed trade lanes and regions of the globe that have the potential for conflict. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The February U.S. container import data demonstrates some consistency with pre-pandemic import volume seasonality and offers a measure of relief from the logistical challenges that have plagued operations over the past few years. Several factors, however, point to continuing challenges for global supply chain performance. 

Despite declining import volumes, port transit times increased at West, East, and Gulf Coast ports, while unresolved labor-related issues may be keeping importers from moving volume back to the West Coast. Compounding factors, including the COVID-related impact on China’s manufacturing capacity, inflation, and the war in Ukraine continue to put pressure on supply chains and logistics operations. By closely monitoring these factors and taking steps to build long-term supply chain resilience, importers and LSPs can mitigate risk, improve supply chain reliability and velocity, and shore up the bottom line moving forward.