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TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY CHAO COMMEMORATES ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY

St. Lawrence Seaway

TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY CHAO COMMEMORATES ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao marked the 60th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the U.S.-Canadian waterway, at a Sept. 24 ceremony at the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, New York. 

“For 60 years, the St. Lawrence Seaway has been a safe and reliable gateway for global commerce, further demonstrating our nation’s strong and strategic partnership with Canada,” Chao said.

She was joined by Transport Canada Director General of Marine Policy Marc-Yves Bertin, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-New York), U.S. Seaway Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook, Canadian Seaway President and CEO Terence Bowles and U.S. and Canadian government and transportation officials.

 Chao and Representative Stefanik also used the event to announce $6 million in funding for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. to construct a new Visitors’ Center at the U.S. Eisenhower Lock. This new center will welcome the tens of thousands of people from around the world who come to watch ships transit the lock each year, and serve as a cornerstone for tourism in the North Country region of New York.

The bi-national waterway was officially opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It has been proclaimed as one of the 10 most outstanding engineering achievements of the past 100 years. Since its inception, nearly 3 billion tons of cargo, valued at over $450 billion, have been transported via the Seaway

africa

Africa is Ready for Growth with Support from Trans-Ocean Transportation

RTM Lines is a trans-ocean transportation company headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, with over 39 years of experience in the global ocean carrier business. As a respected ocean transportation provider, we are continually equipping clients with valuable information and insight related to the ocean transportation industry.  Recently, RTM Lines has invested time and research to better understand the growth of African infrastructure and resources; and how those factors affect opportunities for growth and development in the breakbulk and project cargo markets. Research shows Africa resources and opportunities in key locations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Northern Mozambique. 

“Right now, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is sitting on the world’s largest cobalt resource, however the ongoing political turmoil, makes it very difficult to access the cobalt,” said Richard Tiebel, RTM’s Executive Vice President. He states, “Africa is showing more exponential growth than any other continent. Right now, markets like Ethiopia have shown 8% GDP growth, per annum. Analyzation shows there are a number of factors within urbanization, ICT (Telecommunications), and the Extractives Industry (Oil, Gas, and Mining) driving this growth.” 

With an array of potential possibilities for growth in Africa in the coming years, RTM Lines recommends directing attention to trades and the international markets in Africa, specifically in the shipping and trading processes. The growth and opportunities available in the African market, have great potential for clients that develop and understand the Africa market. 

“In the next 4-5 years, city populations in Africa will double, which means the infrastructure will need development. This development will motivate the community to build infrastructure that supply power, water, sanitation, housing developments, and support to serve the new population in the area. Most governments couldn’t support fixed-line infrastructures, but Africa is going through an information, communication, and technological revolution. The private sector is supporting this revolution and allowing Africans to pursue business opportunities. Companies like Microsoft have been investing in some African tech sectors, to develop talent and to take Africa forward,” said Tiebel.

As the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 regulation will soon go into effect, Tiebel shared his perspective on how Africa’s natural resources can positively influence the trans-ocean transportation industry. 

Mr. Tiebel states, “the gas in Northern Mozambique is the world’s 12th largest natural gas resource. A lot of infrastructure will be needed in order to get this gas because the town itself is very small and scarcely has roads to support it, no port, no airport, or even power and electricity. The town of Palma will literally be built up in order to access this gas resource offshore.” He continues, “the cost of the IMO regulatory change on the shipping industry is unknown, and though we know the IMO’s decision will impact refiners, producers, bunker suppliers, and more, Africa offers a variety of natural resources to emerge as a major beneficiary of this regulation. This supply of natural resources has the potential to help the trans-ocean transportation industry control the anticipated spike in fuel costs in 2020.” 

RTM Lines is committed to providing customers the information necessary to ship ocean cargo with confidence. Understanding the changes and regulations in these expanding and shifting markets is key to providing smooth transit for infrastructure, mining, and oil & gas project cargo. RTM Lines is both knowledgeable and competent in global operations. Port to port, RTM Lines strives to improve the global trade market and the quality of the ocean transportation industry.

e-commerce

Shipping Solutions Keep Pace with E-Commerce’s Global Reach

I recently came across a study in which 80 percent of executives from leading U.S. e-commerce companies said they considered expansion to international markets “critical” to future growth.  The survey also revealed that Canada, Western Europe and Asia account for most international sales from U.S. websites, followed by China and Japan.  

These findings are indicative of the “no-turning-back” mentality taking place among retailers, as the reality of the growing global e-commerce marketplace takes hold. U.S. retailers now look beyond their borders and see a world in which 80 percent of B2C e-commerce sales are taking place outside of North America, and in which consumers are increasingly open to shopping across borders.

International e-commerce sales have become so pervasive in fact, almost 60 percent of shoppers say they made an international purchase in the past six months. That number jumps to almost 63 percent for European consumers, and 58 percent for Asia-Pacific shoppers.

This is especially true within the lucrative U.S./Canada trade relationship, with as much as one-third of Canadian e-commerce purchases going to U.S. sites, and more than 60 percent of Canadians having made an international purchase in the last six months. 

Today consumers across the globe, including in emerging and developing countries, have unprecedented access to brands and product selections online. Consider, for example, that 75 percent of online shoppers in India and 61 percent of shoppers in Nigeria have made international purchases. It’s no wonder then the value of retail e-commerce is surging and projected to be valued at almost $5 trillion by 2021, just two years from now.

For smart retailers, the customers are there. The challenge is to connect with consumers in a way that aligns with their local customs and expectations to localize transactions and fine-tune the customer experience. And, since ensuring seamless deliveries is an important part of any customer experience, it’s essential to understand that international logistics resources are possible today that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Meeting customer expectations – in every country

In thinking about satisfying expectations, a retailer will come to understand that the world’s consumers essentially want the same things when shopping online:  

  • Consistent inventory across all channels
  • Detailed product information 
  • Site navigation in their native languages
  • Prices listed in local currencies
  • Online payment/currency-conversion capability
  • Access to rebates and other savings incentives
  • Fast delivery – what they want, delivered when they want it.

A retailer must dedicate time to market research as a way to understand consumer preferences and dislikes.  You need to make sure there’s demand for your product, determine who your competitors are, and then find your competitive advantage. A good logistics strategy will be an integral part of that competitive advantage because seamless, on-time deliveries – and hassle-free returns – are among the most important deliverables for consumers all over the world.  

PriceWaterhouse Cooper’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey asked consumers in 27 countries about their shipment expectations. Among the more interesting findings, is the impact mega-retailers including Amazon, Alibaba and Net-a-Porter have had in defining global consumer expectations. Global consumer expectations include free shipping (72 percent), free return shipping (65 percent), package tracking (54 percent) and same-day delivery (50 percent).

To accommodate these globally-shared expectations, international retailers are building logistics strategies that create the “look and feel” of a domestic delivery – despite being an ocean or a continent away.  Italian customers don’t really care if customs delays affected a shipment leaving the United States, or that bad weather over the Atlantic forced a shipment to be re-routed. They just want their packages delivered on time, as promised. Every time.

Behind the scenes, logistics providers are working to expand their international footprints, to ensure capabilities are in place to help businesses meet their delivery promises.  For example, my company recently announced a $1B investment in the future, including a new national hub set to open in Toronto in 2021.  You’ll find similar developments happening around the world.

Technology and innovation are also allowing logistics companies to provide levels of service that were unthinkable as recently as a few years ago. Some of those solutions include: 

-Customized solutions. Shipping companies can support a retailer by providing a wide range of options to build the best solution for a particular customer’s needs. Shippers have traditionally been bound by rigid carrier schedules; today, a solution can meet a specific need. For example, a shipment traveling from southern California to Ontario would benefit from direct linehaul service to the border, followed by induction into a Canadian distribution center. The direct linehaul could conceivably shave two to three days from a “traditional” Canada-bound schedule.

-Different modes of transportation. Hybrid solutions might integrate ground service with a rail or air component, depending on a particular situation. In fact, 2018 was a particularly strong year for intermodal volume on U.S. railroad, according to the Journal of Commerce.

-Expedited service. For shipments to Europe, Asia, Latin America, or even across North America, a retailer can take advantage of unprecedented expedited air solutions. We used to think of “expedited” as a solution reserved for extreme emergencies, but today, retailers increasingly rely on expedited air solutions because of its guaranteed, anywhere/anytime capabilities.

-Cross-border expertise. Efficiencies in customs management now make it possible for shipments to move swiftly across international borders. Experienced providers will ensure maximum efficiency in the clearance process, including assignment of the proper tariff classification code. Getting the tariff classification correct is important because an incorrect classification will delay a shipment, and shippers might pay a higher rate of duty. A report by the Auditor General of Canada found 20 percent of shipments arrive at the border with an improper code assigned! And since tariff classification is used to determine eligibility for free trade agreement benefits, an incorrect classification could cause the shipper to miss out on those savings as well.

E-commerce truly is the engine of future retail growth. And thanks to innovations in transportation efficiency, your access to the world’s customers has never been easier.

UPS & CVS Pharmacy Collaborate for Customer Convenience

CVS customers now have the added convenience of utilizing recently expanded in-store UPS package pick-up and delivery options. UPS confirmed earlier this week that more than 6,000 CVS Pharmacy stores around the country will offer the service which was confirmed to roll out immediately.

“This deal offers additional convenience to consumers in the e-commerce era,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s chief marketing officer. “Working with CVS Pharmacy demonstrates our commitment to increased customer choice and control with our global UPS My Choice® network.”

The collaboration directly impacts both companies, as it not only brings added traffic to nationwide CVS Pharmacy locations, but also provide the added option of trip consolidation for UPS customers seeking an all-in-one shopping experience.

“We will continue to bring our customers new omni channel services and experiences that redefine convenience and make it easier to meet the demands of their increasingly busy lives,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, CVS Health and President, CVS Pharmacy. “Adding UPS Access Point locations at CVS Pharmacy locations offers added convenience in local communities throughout the country for shipping and safely receiving packages.”

By adding more locations for customers seeking convenient shipping options, UPS also adds to the UPS Access Point locations, which currently boasts more than 40,000 and 38,000 drop-boxes globally. Additionally, the collaboration impacts over 60 million UPS My Choice Program members currently customizing shipping needs. These members have direct access to the extended UPS network to for estimated arrival and progress alerts, sign for a package in advance, set vacation holds, and more.

“Until now, the UPS Access Point locations have largely been local businesses and The UPS Store® locations. With this announcement, UPS broadens our services to offer an enviable network of secure choices to busy shoppers,” Warren said. “Consumers now have access to a vast and robust suite of options that include the CVS locations, neighborhood businesses, lockers and The UPS Store centers.”

Uncertainty in Today’s Air Market: What it Means for You

Reoccurring annual events, like the holiday season, typically bring predictability to air shipping. But lately, out of the ordinary events have disrupted the seasonality we typically expect. The best way to deal with the ever-changing peaks and valleys in air capacity throughout the year is to know both the historical patterns and potential air market disruptors.

The cyclical nature of air freight

Air freight service predictably follows the law of supply and demand. When shipping volumes spike, space on airlines becomes harder to secure and prices go up. And the opposite is true, too. If shipping volumes diminish, space on airlines becomes readily available and the prices go down.

As you might expect, the holiday peak season is one of the busiest shipping periods of the year around the world—including for air. But there are other seasonal surges to be aware of as well. The graphic below visually represents the seasonality of the air market in years’ past.

New disruptors to the air freight market

We’re just over halfway through 2019, and already it’s quite a different market than we’ve seen in the past. Several disruptors are causing a great deal of uncertainty.

Tariffs on Chinese goods

The ongoing trade war is one of the biggest disruptors to air shipping this year. Earlier tariff changes did not make a huge impact on air shipping. But demand for air freight shifted significantly when enough shippers preemptively repositioned inventory prior to the June 1, 2019, deadline. On May 31, 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced the deadline would be extended to June 15, 2019.

Ecommerce and high-tech goods

With the growth of ecommerce and high-tech products flooding our markets, air freight is quickly becoming the go-to mode of transportation for many shippers—any time of year. Combined with the promise of two-day shipping, it’s often the only way to meet customer demands.

Adjust your air freight strategy based on the market

With air freight volumes lower than we’ve seen since the 2008 recession, now may be the ideal time to update your air freight shipping strategy.

Choosing air freight can be a strategic way to lower inventory levels in the United States. Finding a balance between inventory costs without sacrificing customer delivery expectations often requires expertise. The air experts at C.H. Robinson are available in offices around the globe to help manage your air freight and ensure any problems are resolved in real-time.

You may even consider that if air freight rates dip low enough, you could make up the difference (at least in part) of the added tariffs on Chinese goods.

The air freight market is a complex ecosystem that will likely remain uncertain for some time. While this uncertainty lasts, you may want to switch to a quarterly planning strategy to avoid a long-term commitment when you don’t know what’s coming.

What’s going to happen?

While inventories in the United States remain high, it’s likely that air shipping volumes will remain low. The best way to insulate your company and your relationships from today’s air market is to stay flexible. Adapt quickly to ensure you can take advantage of soft markets while still buying appropriately during peak seasons.

Tariffs & Shippers

IS THE CARGO SHIP SAILING ON NEW TARIFFS?

Demand for Space on Cargo Ships is Surging Ahead of Anticipated Tariffs on China

As over 300 witnesses present testimony in Washington, DC this week and next on the impact of proposed China tariffs on their businesses, uncertainty hangs in the air.

Following the hearing process, committee review and publication of tariff schedules, new tariffs could be imposed as soon as late July or August, which means the cargo shipping rush is on to beat the potential hikes.

Don’t Miss the Boat

The prospect of tariff hikes acts like an “early bird” registration rate as companies are incentivized to lock in better prices now. Many retailers are competing just to find space for their goods on an ocean carrier. Air shipments are an alternative, but far costlier. The shipment surge has resulted in massive congestion at ports and warehouses that are bursting at the seams.

This scenario is familiar. Retailers scrambled last year to book cargo to get ahead of tariffs. Importers front-loaded holiday merchandise shipments to beat the 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports in the fall of 2018, and then front-loaded spring 2019 merchandise imports late in the year when they anticipated the tariffs would go up from 10 to 25 percent on January 1, 2019. That threat temporarily subsided when President Trump extended the negotiation deadline with China, but reemerged in May 2019. This time, the tariff threat materialized. Goods would remain at 10 percent only if they were exported from China to the United States prior to May 10, 2019 and entered into the United States before June 15, 2019.

New Tariffs, New Shipping Surge

The President has said he will make a decision after the June 28-29 G-20 meetingwhether to impose 25 percent tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports, meaning a tariff on nearly everything the United States imports from China, including the kitchen sink (yes, kitchen sinks are on the tariff list).

Retailers generally import most of their holiday goods in August and September, but many are moving up this timetable in anticipation of higher tariffs, accelerating the traditional holiday peak shipping season. If major importers all do the same, advancing the shipment of months of inventory, how will shipping lines manage the demand and allocate vessel space? Where does all this volume sit when it arrives? What is the impact on costs for shippers?

All of this can add up to some choppy trade waters.

Hold My Spot

Retailers, who are the “shippers” of goods, may negotiate service contracts with ocean carriers under which the shipper commits to provide a certain amount of volume over a given period and the carrier commits to a certain rate schedule and set of services. Typically, the greater amount of volume, the better the rates will be. The alternative to contracts is the less predictable spot rate market. Usually valid for only one shipment, the spot rates fluctuate with market conditions.

Larger established shippers are more likely to have service contracts, while small- and medium-sized businesses are likely to be more at the mercy of the spot rate market. Because retailers generally require more pricing certainty and service guarantees, they may opt for contractual arrangements and lose out on the chance to capitalize on weak spot markets. Spot rates can dip below contract levels, for example, if carriers add too much capacity into the system or volume slows. Some businesses play it both ways, confirming some volume under contract and turning to the spot rate market for the rest.

There can also be price-based competition to secure slots on a particular vessel during peak periods, with carriers able to demand surcharges to protect shippers from being rolled onto a later vessel departure. When tariffs are imminent, shippers are often more willing to pay these surcharges to get space on the next available crossing.

Rather than contracting with an individual shipline, a shipper may choose to work with a common carrier, like UPS, that offers ocean transportation, but does not operate the vessels. These Non-Vessel Owning Common Carriers (NVOCCs) differentiate themselves by pointing to their ability to offer a diversified carrier mix and flexibility in cases of unexpected circumstances, such as a strike at the dock a particular carrier uses. The NVOCC negotiates with ocean carriers for a number of slots on particular trade lanes, in effect negotiating as the shipper, and then offers ocean shipping service to customers.

Seeking A Port in a Storm

In theory, changes to service contracts must be agreed upon by both parties – carrier and shipper – before taking effect. In practice, however, shippers and carriers sometimes treat service contracts more as guidelines than binding agreements. Import surges have caused some carriers to hike previously agreed rates, and if the shipper won’t pay, the cargo might sit in Shanghai.

Various organizations are developing innovative solutions to address these contract challenges, including through the use of technology to record contract terms and track shipments’ conformity with those terms, financial security tools to ensure penalty settlement, and requirements to pay collateral at the time of contract, unlike the current spot market where no money is exchanged until goods are on the water and either party can cancel at any prior point without an enforceable penalty.

As the race to get goods to shore heats up, shippers not only face cost increases at sea. With ports struggling with containers stacked six or seven high, shippers also face extra charges to get their goods off ships, onto trucks and into warehouses. As one example, the onslaught of containers also means a surge in demand for chassis, the steel frames that allow trucks to carry shipping containers. If sufficient chassis are not available, truckers have to delay deliveries, incurring costs that are passed to the shipper.

With thousands of retailers moving tremendous volume, the issue of warehouse capacity also becomes a challenge. According to Los Angeles Times reporting, Southern California’s warehousing and distribution complex, the largest in the world, has a less than one percent vacancy rate. Some retailers have resorted to storing pallets outside, while others face hefty fees for exceeding storage windows.

Ports part one
China trade

Are China’s Neighboring Ports Ready?

What about sourcing from countries other than China to avoid the tariffs? That’s easier said than done, at least in the short term to beat a looming tariff deadline. Switching to new vendors and manufacturers takes money and time. New vendors must be trained to meet retailer standards and be able to meet needed lead times. Factories must be vetted for quality standards, social welfare conditions and security factors. China also has superb logistics and other supply chain advantages that other countries cannot match.

In a recent piece in The Hill, the Cato Institute’s Dan Ikenson pointed to trade data showing that, as U.S. imports from China fell by 12 percent in the first four months of 2019, imports from Vietnam grew by 32 percent over the same period. However, Vietnam’s transportation infrastructure is reportedly overwhelmed with the new volume, straining the country’s roads and ports. And, Vietnam is facing pressure to adopt more rigorous measures to ensure that Chinese products do not get transshipped through the country and into the United States, merely to avoid U.S. tariffs.

“The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach together comprise the San Pedro Bay Port Complex…On the import side, our most recent analysis estimates the current and proposed tariffs directed at China will impact roughly 66% of all imports by value at the San Pedro Bay.”

– June 17 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer from Eugene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles

Rough Waters Ahead

Despite the current shipping boom as producers and retailers build inventory to get ahead of tariffs, the shipping industry is concerned about the future impacts of an inevitable falloff in volume, even if the U.S. economy remains strong. When import volumes soften, dockworkers are not called to work, and the demand shrinks for logistics workers, warehouse workers and truckers. The surges and variability caused by tariff threats – some enacted and some not — have generated a boatload of uncertainty across the wide range of industries that make up the supply chain.

That uncertainty affects not only the users of shipping infrastructure, but sometimes the infrastructure itself. The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) owns and operates the Conley Container Terminal in the port of Boston, which serves 1,600 regional import and export businesses. After avoiding tariffs last fall on ship-to-shore cranes to service larger container ships, Massport finds the cranes back on the proposed tariff list. The imposition of 25 percent tariffs would add at least $10 million in costs for three new cranes it plans to buy. Currently, there is no U.S. manufacturer for these cranes and the only experienced manufacturer is in China.

The President and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities is among those testifying at the hearings this week. He will make the case that tariff increases would negatively impact ports’ ability to make investments in infrastructure that are needed to handle significant growth in trade volumes in years to come. Modern transport infrastructure and a return to greater trade certainty will add up to smoother sailing for ports, consumers, and workers across the supply chain.

Leslie Griffin is Principal of Boston-based Allinea LLC. She was previously Senior Vice President for International Public Policy for UPS and is a past president of the Association of Women in International Trade in Washington, D.C.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Used with permission.

Everyone’s Breaking Into Breakbulk

Time was breakbulk, project cargo and multipurpose/heavylift were their own niche sector on the global shipping spectrum, but many of today’s carriers are taking it all, from MPV/HL to roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) to go along with their regular old vanilla container hauling (not to suggest said containers are filled with vanilla, although they could be).

The “Big Three” carriers—MSC, CMA-CGM and Maersk—continue competing with one another by each entering the comparatively lucrative breakbulk and project cargo market, which has also drawn such ro/ro specialists as Grimaldi, NYK and MOL.

For its “global out-of-gauge and breakbulk services,” MSC advertises “first class project cargo management, no matter whether you have a requirement for heavy lift cargo, or for oversized cargo which cannot fit inside a standard container.” MSC can point to more than 40 years of experience in shipping oversized freight and their “expert project cargo logistics team” that can help with the planning and execution of special loadings.

Not to be outdone, the CMA CGM website states, “Our dedicated experts will take pride in providing you with our Special Cargo services and will find with you reliable shipping solutions, whether you’re shipping sensitive materials or heavy and bulky equipment but also will take extra care of Aid and Humanitarian cargo that often exceeds the size of standard containers.”

Size matters, of course, as CMA CGM can rely on the expertise of its 755 agencies in more than 160 countries all around the world as well as an extensive network of ports, terminal operators and suppliers. “Our teams can deliver a seamless door-to-door service and integrated one-stop-shop solutions for your Special Cargo anywhere in the world,” the promo boasts.

COSCO Shipping also relies on a large fleet and experience in extra-heavy hauling. This was demonstrated in February, when the sound section of the Maersk Honam was successfully loaded aboard COSCO’s heavy-lift vessel Xin Guang Hua on open waters outside Dubai. The 228.5-meter long item arrived in March at Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.

Maersk has been accepting breakbulk as well, with company officials pointing to the opportunity to be able to carry an entire project as opposed to select components that fit neatly in traditional containers. The carrier does assess breakbulk or project cargo on a case by case, depending on available space and vessels, the length and width of the cargo and the terminals to be called.

“We’ll use special gear, extra labor, and oversee operations,” Karen Hicks, Maersk’s global client manager, told JOC.com in March. “There are no cut and dried solutions.” Her company is searching for more solutions with the creation of special project cargo teams and online booking tools, however.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean (WW Ocean) is occupying the space in between containers and lift-on/lift-off (lo/lo) or geared MPV/HL, stowing cargo under the deck of ro-ro ships where less packaging and handling is required. WW Ocean officials say they see growth potential in being able to handle a single piece of breakbulk cargo, multiple pieces or pieces and materials for large, multimillion-dollar projects handled over several voyages.

Customers should be warned that pricing can be tricky. As opposed to a standard container rate, carriers have to factor in trade lanes, weight and volume, cargo type, and any special equipment needed, such as mobile loading platforms (mafis) or jack-up trailers. Surcharges for bunkers, port costs, and other assessorial charges must also be factored in. And then there are the costs for securing different types of cargo along the trade routes.

The variety of elements to consider has not swayed Höegh Autoliners away from offering transportation for all types of breakbulk cargo, as the carrier handles close to 6 million cubic meters of high and heavy and breakbulk cargoes annually worldwide. For breakbulk, project and other “out-of-gauge” cargo, Höegh relies on modern and specialized rolltrailers, which are specially designed for smooth and safe transportation of heavy and/or long breakbulk cargo.

G2 Ocean is only two years old, so most would consider the carrier new to the breakbulk game. But company officials want you to know that they actually have 50 years of experience in the sector thanks to G2 Ocean being a joint venture of two of the world’s leading breakbulk and bulk-shipping companies: Gearbulk and Grieg Star.

“We operate the largest fleet of open hatch vessels worldwide,” proclaims the G2 Ocean website. “In addition we operate a substantial fleet of conventional bulk carriers. With 130 vessels and 13 offices on six continents, we can serve all our customer’s needs. Our vessels are tailor-made for breakbulk cargoes like forestry products, steel and project cargoes. Advanced systems make shipping with us easy. The passion and expertise of our people put our customers at ease. This is the basis for reliable, efficient, flexible, high-quality and innovative services.”

However, you do not have to be a large, global conglomerate carrier concern to specialize in breakbulk and project cargo. On the other end of the roster is Florida Barge Corp. (FBC), whose 150- to 400-foot long tubs were engineered and constructed to transport heavy and concentrated cargo loads.

Routinely operating in the waters of the U.S. East Coast, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, FBC offers project cargo, heavy-lift, and module transportation services—at rates that are less or at least competitive with the big boys.

Founder Brendan Moran boasts more than 15 years of experience in the marine transportation and project cargo industry. “Whether your needs include loading and transport of bridge beams or dredge related equipment,” states Moran’s online bio, “FBC will provide all aspects of the movement from inception to completion.”

OUR TOP TEN LIST: THESE SHIPPING COMPANIES CONTROL NEARLY 75% OF THE MARKET

Container shipping continues to be a major means of cargo transportation in 2019. While there does not exist an outright monopoly by any one shipping company, there are presently 10 that control nearly 75 percent of the market, and of those 10, four that maintain over 10 percent of market share.  

APM-Maersk

With 80,000-plus employees and coming off a major reshuffle, APM-Maersk survived one of the biggest layoffs in company history roughly four years ago. A concerted effort has been made since that time to ramp up digitization and optimization changes, with the past two years especially seeing some radical changes. Søren Skou moved into a dual role as CEO of Maersk and CEO of the core Maersk business line, which are two separate entities. APM-Maersk leads the pack with a 4,058,154 shipping capacity (TEU), a 17.8 percent share of the market and sole operation of 316 ships, clearly surpassing No. 2 on the list, Mediterranean Shg Co’s 193.

Mediterranean Shg Co

The world’s second largest line, this Geneva-based company counts on Italian roots with its most important port being housed in Antwerp, Belgium. Also known as MSC, the company made news earlier this year when 291 containers plunged overboard near Borkum, a German island. Worse yet, some containers were hauling poisonous organic peroxides and ended up washing up on to Terschelling, a protected Dutch island in the UNESCO biosphere reserve. Counting on a global presence, MSC is likely not to catch APM-Maersk anytime soon but does have a respectable shipping capacity of 3,303,848 TEU.

COSCO Group

The China Ocean Shipping Group Co., commonly known as COSCO, is a state-owned concern widely considered the third largest in the world. Handling a shipping capacity of 2,782,485 TEU, COSCO commands a 12.2 percent market share, and earlier this year the Chinese firm purchased a Peruvian port, its first in South America. The $225 million deal is a strategic play to increase their share in the emerging Latin American market. But COSCO is not solely focused on Latin America as they’ve also been actively purchasing ports in Greece, the Netherlands and various Abu Dhabi terminals throughout the UAE.

CMA CGM Group

Despite global uncertainty and with U.S./China talks escalating to worrying levels, CMA CGM reported their 2018 revenues jumped more than 11 percent and 14.9 percent in the fourth quarter alone. This equated to a record $23.48 billion in revenue which is a record for the French container transportation and shipping company. However, CMA CGM is not resting on its laurels as a $1.2 billion cost-reduction plan is afoot due to geopolitical tensions. On the other end, investments in LNG-enabled vessels have been made to follow the eventual Martine Organization’s rules on emissions, set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.  

Hapag-Lloyd

The world’s fifth largest shipping company with a 7.3 percent market share, Hapag-Lloyd has decided to lay low regarding the recent trend of logistics company acquisitions (something increasingly common with the leading players on this list). While most the industry is consolidating, Hapag-Lloyd has made a concerted effort to boost on-time delivery rates. Digitalization lies at the core of this strategy and Hapag-Lloyd has gone full-in to equip their control towers with the latest connections by leveraging disparate data streams in a variety and multiple formats.  

ONE (Ocean Network Express)

If there’s one record that the shipping industry respects, it’s the amount of cargo stowed. More cargo stored equates to a higher marginal return. ONE did just that in February, narrowly edging the previous record set by Maersk (19,038 TEU) in August of 2018. The Japanese company successfully carried 19,100 TEU on the MOL Tribute, a vessel with a total capacity of 20,146 TEU. In fact, prior to this record the MOL Trust and MOL Tradition also recorded record stows. ONE operates in conjunction with Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Marine Transport Corp., forming what is known as The Alliance. ONE controls 6.6 percent market share and has been climbing up the ranks as of late.

Evergreen Line

Evergreen Line is not a line at all, but rather a group composed of Evergreen Marine Corp., Italia Marittima SpA, Evergreen Marine Ltd. and Evergreen Marin (Hong Kong) Ltd. Established in 2007 in response to growing demand for a more global presence on behalf of all four founding members, in 2009 Evergreen Marine (Singapore) Pte Ltd. jumped on board, which now gives the group a 5.2 percent share of the market and a shipping capacity of 1,185,257 TEU. In February, the company welcomed in a new president, Jeffrey Chang, who is rumored to be an out-of-the-box thinker with radical, yet proven ideas. 

Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

Based out of Keelung, Taiwan, despite a rather recent founding (1972) this group traces its roots back to the Qing Dynasty with shipping links associated with the China Merchants Steam Navigation Co., which later became Yang Ming via a merger. With a fleet of 84 container ships and 17 bulk carriers, Yang Ming controls roughly 2.9 percent of the shipping market with a shipping capacity of 653,996 TEU. Recently, Yang Ming announced the launch of two more 14,000 TEU box-ships alongside plans to deploy 10, 2,800 TEU container vessels coupled with 14 chartered-in 11,000 TEU containerships, all by 2020-22.

Hyundai M.M.

When Maersk CEO Søren Skou called for an end to shipping company government subsidies, many carriers, namely Cosco Shipping (Chinese state-run) and Hyundai M.M. remained hush-hush. China and South Korea are keen on maintaining a competitive advantage over the likes of Maersk and Mediterranean Shg. They are right there, but to keep the momentum many advocates of financial benefits and subsidies in China and South Korea see these as mandatory measures to keep the competition lively. Hyundai M.M. joined the G6, the world’s largest shipping alliance, and now counts on 1.9 percent of the market. Not a lot, but still in the Top 10 and climbing. South Korea as a nation wants to see that percentage grow.

PIL (Pacific Int. Line)

Rounding out the Top 10 is PIL, a Singapore-based company founded by Chang Yun Chung, a Chinese entrepreneur worth approximately $2.2 billion. When Chung first made a splash, it was back in 1967 with PIL commandeering just two, second-hand ships. Counting on more than 150 vessels currently, Chang handed over power to his son, Teo Siong Seng, last year. In 2017, PIL entered into a historic partnership with COSCO, which will enable both to share vessels during peak demand throughout the year. PIL hopes this will provide some leverage to move up the ranks into the No. 5 position by 2030.

An ever-evolving list, these maritime companies are responsible for the bulk of delivery over sea. It is nice to see the variety (nationalities) and cooperation between all ten.   

Egyptian Government Plans New, Improved Suez Canal

Los Angeles, CA – The Egyptian government has reportedly launched a new project to construct a “new” Suez Canal that will run for 45 miles parallel to the existing waterway.

According to the Head of the Suez Canal Authority,  Mohab Mamish, the new canal “will reduce passing ships’ waiting time from 11 hours to as little as three hours” as they move from Port Said on the Mediterranean to the Red Sea terminus of Port Tawfiq.

The existing canal is too narrow for two-way passage, so transiting ships are moved in convoys or use bypasses.

The original, sea-level canal extends for 102 miles and has been the major route for shipping moving between Europe, India and the Far East since it was completed in 1869 after ten years of work. In 24 hours, the canal can handle as many as 76 ships.

The Suez Canal, a major chess piece in international geopolitics for all of its 145 year existence, earns Egypt about $5 billion annually, important for a country that has suffered a reduction in tourism and foreign investment over the last three years because of Egypt’s continuing political tensions.

The new canal is expected to increase annual revenues to $13.5 billion by 2023, said Mamish. The total estimated cost of drilling the new channel would be about $4 billion and should be completed in five years, he said.

Egypt, said Mamish, will eschew using foreign companies to build the planned canal and instead use its own firms, a move expected to create several thousand, much-need jobs.

At the same time, Cairo has said a consortium including the Egyptian Army will develop an international industrial and logistics hub in Suez to attract more shipping and logistics business to the country.

08/12/2014