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INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES ARE STOWAWAYS IN GLOBAL TRADE

invasive

INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES ARE STOWAWAYS IN GLOBAL TRADE

Murder Hornets, Really?

As if 2020 could get any worse, enter the “murder hornet”. Measuring around two inches, the Asian giant hornet is a particularly nasty variety. They have longer stingers than the honeybee and their venom is more toxic – and they can sting repeatedly.

Sadly, these predators are known to decimate honeybee colonies. A cool fact from National Geographic is that Japanese honeybees have learned to protect themselves by surrounding the hornets and cooking them alive through intense flapping that reaches temperatures of over 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Japanese honeybees developed this defense as they co-evolved with the Asian giant hornet in a common native habitat.

First spotted in the state of Washington last December, the Asian giant hornet is thought to have entered the United States through shipping containers. As an invasive alien species to the United States, our honeybees are defenseless against this hornet.

Stowaways and Hitchhikers

Human travelers and importers sometimes intentionally transplant species to new locations for food, economic, or environmental purposes, such as for use as biological control agents. Though such approaches should be approved by regulators, illicit trade in plants, seeds and wildlife is a significant problem in global trade. And if you’ve seen those adorable agriculture-sniffing beagles in airports, their job is to catch illegal importation of fruits, vegetables, animal products, soil and samples people try to stow in their personal baggage.

These are all vectors for the introduction of invasive alien species, but the much bigger cause of the spread of non-native species throughout the world is international shipping in global trade.

Alien species hitch rides on agricultural commodities, stow away in shipping containers, get ejected into new waters through the purging of ship ballast water or embed themselves in wood packaging materials, among other modes of unintentional introduction through shipping.

Aerial top view of fishing boat

Invasive weeds threaten fishing livelihoods and trade in aquatic goods.

Not Wanted: Moths, Mollusks and Beetles

Cargo ships carry water as ballast. At the end of an ocean voyage, freighters jettison the ballast water they took on at the port of origin but in so doing, they can introduce a non-native and sometimes aggressive and invasive aquatic species like zooplankton into new waters at the port of destination. Other unwelcome travelers include aquatic plants, algae or small animals that attach themselves to the hull of a ship.

Growing up in Michigan, I recall the invasion of Zebra mussels, native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia, that were transported to the Great Lakes region through ballast water discharge. They quickly spread throughout the United States causing infrastructure damage and economic losses along the way, not to mention being unsightly along the Great Lakes beaches.

Asian gypsy moths are another example of a pest whose eggs are easily transported in international shipping containers. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) closely monitors incoming vessels from the gypsy moth’s native lands of Japan, China, Korea and Far East Russia. During the annual Asian gypsy moth infestation season, APHIS requires that vessels from high-risk Asian ports bound for U.S. ports provide pre-departure certifications that they are free of the moths. APHIS also inspects for moth egg masses on incoming ships.

The Asian longhorn beetle is anathema to many species of broadleaf trees in North America and Europe but is suspected to have been introduced through infested wood packing material made of unprocessed raw wood. Because of the pest risk, international standards have been developed to require heat treatment or fumigation of wood packaging materials used in international trade.

Stowaway species

Coming and Going

Invasive alien species can present a major threat to biological diversity by disturbing native ecosystems and habitats, causing native species to decline. The introduction of foreign pathogens and infectious diseases poses a threat to livestock and human health. Trade is the route by which many invasive alien species are introduced to new environments, and ultimately, the disruption to agricultural productivity can end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars every year through lost opportunities to trade.

For example, rats transported on ships are estimated to consume as much as 50 percent of Madagascar’s annual rice production. Fruit fly infestations have spread rapidly in West Africa, devastating mango, citrus and other tropical fruit production for export. The spread of pig disease like the swine flu has required farmers to cull herds and sacrifice exports.

Invasive grasses can ruin pastures important to animal grazing. Harmful algal blooms like the “red tide” along Florida’s Gulf Coast can deplete oxygen in waters and release toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. Beyond agriculture, invasive alien species have caused the spread of infectious diseases, hampering business travel and tourism, a key economic driver for many countries – just as we’re witnessing now with COVID-19.

Prevent Invasive Species without Unduly Restricting Trade

The Convention on Biological Diversity requires countries to prevent the introduction of invasive alien species, as feasible and appropriate, and to control or eradicate them if introduced.

Because the introduction of alien species occurs largely through trade, the measures governments take to prevent their introduction will – by definition – be trade restrictive to some degree. They often involve controls at ports of entry, appropriate use of quarantine and remediation procedures.

International conventions on biodiversity, plant protection, prevention of animal disease and related trade agreements, preeminently the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), are designed to achieve the objectives of protecting plant, animal and human health without unnecessarily restricting trade. WTO members are encouraged to adopt the guidelines and recommendations developed in global bodies specializing in plant and animal health and to make best efforts to harmonize SPS measures to facilitate trade.

To achieve the twin goals of protecting against the introduction of harmful species while facilitating trade, governments need to have in place transparent standards and procedures based on evidence and science-based risk assessments. Regulatory authorities must have expertise and competencies at the borders as well as phytosanitary and veterinary infrastructure such as diagnostic laboratories and proper storage to conduct inspections at entry points. And, ideally, more governments will implement IT systems to ensure that SPS procedures and certifications are integrated with other border systems. Scientific and regulatory cooperation across agencies and across governments is critical for effective monitoring, prevention and control of the global spread of harmful invasive alien species, which is in everyone’s interest.

Fruit fly hitchhiker

Where Trade and Nature Intersect

A 2017 study in the journal Nature Communications found that the problem of invasive alien species has continuously increased, with more than a third of all new introductions recorded between 1970 and 2014. Introductions of algae, mollusks and insects in particular increased steeply after 1950, mostly likely as a consequence of the growth of global trade.

The arrival of murder hornets on the west coast is just the latest reminder that increased trade volume, changes in trade routes, and the expansion of airport and seaport capacity around the world means having to deal with the unwelcome stowaways in global trade.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.
PPE

From Exports to Delivery: Simplifying PPE Shipping

From small businesses to large corporations, many are navigating the complex world of importing personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees, family members, and customers as businesses reopen across the globe.

Whether you have navigated these waters before or are new to importing PPE, COVID-19 has changed the game. In response to the changing environment, our team of experts at C.H. Robinson put together information on four key subjects that will help your PPE supply chain run smoother during a time when simplicity is what you need most.

Exporting PPE from China

Over the past several months, China has been the main source for PPE. So, it’s important you’re up to date on the latest regulations to avoid your freight being held up.

China has recently implemented three key policies that relate to PPE exporting.

-Policy 5 requires all medical supplies to meet quality standards of the importing countries, this policy also separated out the process for medical-grade and non-medical-use devices.

-Policy 53 increases CIQ inspection on all PPE products, labels, packaging, and documentation.

-Policy 12 created a white and blacklist of manufacturers and suppliers.

While China’s new policies offer tighter control on PPE being exported, they also have created a dedicated HS-code for PPE products to simplify export declarations.

For a closer look at how China’s regulations impact PPE shipping, check out our recent PPE exporting video featuring our director of product development, Vincent Wong.

U.S. and Canada customs best practices

The next key subject to address is importing PPE into the United States and/or Canada. It’s important you understand various government agency requirements and determine which ones apply depending on whether the PPE is for general or medical use. From there, other factors like labeling, packaging, and marketing of the product can influence these regulations as well.

Importing PPE into the United States

Depending on the PPE commodity you are importing, there can be multiple U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements to navigate. And due to the nature of the shipping industry, these regulations can change quickly—especially for medical grade equipment.

Importing PPE into Canada

While importing into Canada has some similarities—like changing regulations—there are some clear differences to be aware of as well. It’s important to note that while intended use, labeling, packaging, and advertising can be used to determine medical vs. general use in Canada, this is ultimately determined by the Canadian inspectors.

Whether you are importing PPE into the U.S. or Canada, make certain to watch our video on customs best practices with Ben Bidwell, director of North America customs and compliance, in order to better understand requirements, expectations and regulations for PPE.

Metered freight solutions

In this environment, we’re seeing companies turn to air freight to move their personal protective equipment quickly. However, when the demand for passenger travel plummeted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a dramatic reduction in cargo capacity followed. As you might imagine, this has drastically changed normal market conditions for air shipping.

While delivering all your PPE as fast as possible via air might seem like your only option, solutions like freight metering, which utilizes both air and ocean, can also meet your needs while providing cost-savings.

Ask yourself:

-How much of our PPE do we really need to fly?

-How much of that is safety stock?

-What’s the end user consumption rate?

-What’s the output rate at the factory?

Answers to these questions and cross-functional conversations that include purchasers, factory contacts, logistics providers, and end users can reveal that only a portion of your purchase order (PO) should fly and a balance of it should ship as ocean freight.

The key to metering your freight is to choose air freight for just enough of your order to match your end-users’ consumption rate. As ocean freight catches up, it can significantly reduce your freight spend.

Looking for more benefits of a metered air and ocean shipping solution for critical PPE orders? Watch our metered freight solutions video, featuring Bogen Chi, director of air freight.

FCL and LCL expedited ocean shipping

Lastly, we understand your need to continue moving your PPE cargo as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Utilizing expedited less than container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL) shipping could be the differentiator you need. In fact, depending on your PPE’s delivery city, C.H. Robinson’s expedited LCL services can cut traditional LCL transit time by 4 to 14 days and keep your costs nearly 80% lower than air freight services.

Watch our expedited ocean shipping video with Ali Ashraf and Greg Scott to explore if this smart transportation solution is right for your supply chain.

In conclusion

Personal protective equipment has become an extremely important and in-demand commodity as we face COVID-19. So, whether you’re looking to import PPE for the first time or as part of your normal procurement process, C.H. Robinson’s experts can help you build a more resilient supply chain when shipping PPE around the globe. As the market continues to change, our global suite of service offerings and market expertise remains available to help your PPE supply chain. We’re here to help today so you can have a better PPE process tomorrow.

tariff exclusions

What Your Business Needs to Know and Do About Tariff Exclusions

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the world economy, it’s prudent to find ways to keep your shipping business afloat by finding economic relief if and whenever possible. First off, being aware of the changing complexities of the China-U.S. trade war is essential. According to the Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Statistics, China is one of our country’s largest trading partners, which means companies large and small are likely affected by the trade situation. Last year, the U.S. imported $452 billion from China, which made up about 14% of overall U.S. imports by value.

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows the U.S. to impose trade sanctions as recourse for unfair foreign trade practices. In 2017, China was under investigation for issues regarding innovation practices, intellectual property rights, and technology transfer. Since then, retaliation measures have been put in place for the past couple of years and remain in effect for an indefinite amount of time. While the USTR recently announced reductions on some tariff measures and a suspension of others, about two-thirds of U.S. imports from China are still taxed an additional 7.5% to 25%, covering about $350 billion worth of product. Keep in mind, the average duty rate for U.S. imports is only 2%; thus, China’s products are incurring additional costs on top of that.

The current tariffs are extremely broad and cover many industries including food/beverage, industrial supplies, transport equipment, consumption goods, and fuels and lubricants. As of this month, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports collecting $52 billion in Section 301 duties since the trade remedies took effect.

This is a hot issue for importers and we’re currently seeing more industry associations and companies pushing for relief from these measures. While the period to request exclusions from the Section 301 tariffs is now closed, it is a great time to confirm that you are doing all you can to potentially recover duties previously paid, and potentially apply on a go-forward basis the exclusions that the USTR has been granting against certain products.

How to seek relief now and in the future

Cost savings and refunds are top of mind for all, so to help provide some relief, the USTR has released many tariff exclusions shippers can apply for. The important thing to keep in mind here is that ample work is involved. It’s not just a one-time process, because you’ll likely need to continuously apply for new exemptions where applicable. Some of the exclusions being granted are product-specific whereas some are granted at the HTS classification. You’ll also want to be ready in case CBP asks for proof of eligibility. Staying organized is paramount to identify the opportunities and defend against CBP scrutiny.

Each exclusion round also has a validity period, and many of those expiration dates are coming up fast! We’re seeing the USTR opening several new short-window comment periods to consider extending previously granted tariff exclusions. This could be your chance to drop commentary to protect and extend your granted exclusions or to oppose competitors, if applicable and necessary so that your company is not left at a disadvantage.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Eligibility is simple – companies affected by the China 301 tariffs.

Exclusions can be granted based on sourcing, impact on U.S. jobs and product type and need. Producers of goods used to combat COVID-19 can also be eligible for exclusions.

Also, tariff exclusions are retroactive to the date the tariffs were first applied, and exclusions generally expire after one year from the date of publication of the granted exclusion.

Important Reminder for Process

The customs entry and liquidation process is complicated, spanning a lengthy period. It can take up to 480 days and is broken down into these windows of time:

1. Day 1: Customs entry is filed

2. Day 1 – 300: Post Summary Correction (PSC) – can be filed to request refund prior to the entry liquidating

3. Day 300: PSC no longer eligible as entry is deemed liquidated (importer may request suspension or extension of liquidation prior to this point).

4. Day 301 – 480: Entry is liquidated, and protest must be filed to request a refund

5. Day 480+: Entry may be past protest period and is no longer eligible for a refund request via PSC or protest.

Since the process is lengthy, make sure you consider these tips when conducting your duty recovery analysis:

-Know your product (10-digit HTS codes and know the barcodes toward the products)

-Apply their qualifications

-Narrow down lists of products impacted by tariffs

-Identify which ones have exclusions granted – work with that list

-Run a report and gather import activity

-Start looking at validity dates

-Make sure brokers are applying it to the new shipments of the products

-File petitions if you want to continue to take advantage of it

Insights for the future

The trade war is not ending soon and it’s hard to unravel, but we know it’s an important issue that we can expect to see in the spotlight for the foreseeable future. Customers are advised to stay close to this and to pay attention to the advisories from C.H. Robinson and USTR.

To check for exclusion status against your products click the resources here:

1. $34 Billion Trade Action (List 1),

2.  $16 Billion Trade Action (List 2),

3. $200 Billion Trade Action (List 3)

4. $300 Billion Trade Action (List 4)

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car shipping

Effects of COVID-19 Outbreak on the Car Shipping Industry

There is hardly an industry in the world that hasn’t been affected by COVID-19. While tourism and travel industries have arguably suffered the most, industries related to shipping are not far behind. So, what precisely are the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the car shipping industry, and how will it behave in the following months? Well, that is what we are here to find out.

How COVID-19 affects car industry

To get a good understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on car shipping we first need to take a look at the car industry itself. After all, a big part of car shipping is closely connected to car manufacture and sale. So it stands to reason that any effects that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the car industry will have a ripple effect on car shipping.

Reduced production

The best way to imagine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is to envision it as a wave. It started off in China and then made its way into numerous countries. This means that it did not affect all countries at the same time. Therefore, there is a notable time difference when the COVID-19 started effecting companies depending on where those companies were situated. And there will be a notable time difference to when these companies will be able to start recovering from the effects of COVID-19.

Worker safety

The first effect that COVID-19 has had on both the car industry and the car shipping industry is the mandatory safety standards for workers. Standards such as:

-Physical distancing.

-Hand sanitation.

-Mandatory masks and protective gloves.

-Increased ventilation.

Countries were quick to instate these measures, as they are the most cost-effective. And they will also be the last ones that the countries are able to lift. This, as you might guess, makes the overall industry a bit slower. Not only do workers have to take the time to adhere to these regulations, but, there is also an increase in state inspections that ensure that those regulations are met.

Little to no demand

As the coronavirus pandemic got stronger, the economy of the affected countries grew weaker. After it became evident that the safety measures weren’t enough, countries turned towards lockdown and curfews. This has led to a significant drop in trade. The full economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic are still hard to quantify. But, if there is one thing we can say for sure, it’s that the demand for cars has plummeted as a result. People were fearful of losing their jobs. And seeing that 22 million Americans claimed for unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, those fears were not without ground. And the last thing that unemployed or scared people do is go out of their way to purchase cars.

The following effects of COVID-19 outbreak on the car shipping

So, with the reduced trade and halted production, what were the following effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on car shipping? Well, not good. There is hardly a shipping company that hasn’t taken a hard financial hit due to worldwide lockdowns. Companies that also deal with medical shipping did fair a bit better since a lot of countries urgently needed medical supplies. But, when it comes to car shipping, companies have slowed down to a crawl.

International shipping

Since almost 80% of car manufacturers have some part of their production done in China, they were among the first industries to feel the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on car shipping. Once the outbreak started it was almost impossible to ship cars or car parts outside of China as the country soon went into lockdown. This scenario, as we mentioned, occurred in subsequent countries as they became affected by COVID-19. International trade, and therefore international shipping of cars, has slowed down considerably. Now, since it is fairly safe to ship cars even during COVID-19, companies managed to tackle a large number of shipments scheduled before the COVID-19 outbreak. But during the hiatus of the pandemic, international car shipping was practically non-existent.

Local shipping

When it comes to local shipping, car shipping companies are doing a bit better. Companies that are situated in a country with a decent local economy had no trouble dealing with local car shipping needs. After all, intrastate shipping has far fewer restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moving industry

A big part of car shipping is related to the moving industry. After all, one of the reasons why people choose to ship their cars is because they need to move. Or, they have already relocated and they need their car shipped to them. So, with this in mind, what was the effect of the coronavirus on the moving industry (when related to car shipping)? Well, again, not good. Relocation was practically non-existent in the past couple of months. This, in turn, means that people didn’t ship their cars due to relocation. There was a decent amount of people moving back to their home states when quarantine measures were instated. But, international car shipping was difficult, to say the least.

Recovery

If the car shipping industry is to recover from the effects of COVID-19, it needs to do so slowly. As of writing this article, the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down and countries are lifting certain safety measures. Therefore, we should see an increase in international trade, especially from China (which is quite important for car shipping). But, if we are not careful, we might see another coronavirus pandemic in the near future. The key thing here is for countries and companies to slowly tackle the recovery process and to keep public health in mind while increasing trade. Only by doing so will the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the car shipping industry wane. After all, the last thing we want is for another wave of the coronavirus to hit.

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Scarlett-Rose Duffy is an established expert in the moving and shipping industry. She is most known for work as an industry advisor, in addition to her work with All Season Movers NJ.

international shipping

How to Save Time and Money With Your International Shipping

Whether you are just dipping your toes into international shipping, or you are a veteran who wants to update the firm’s processes, there is always more you can do to make your shipping practices more streamlined and efficient. After all, if you are going to compete with local players, then you need to be offering the best deal possible on international shipping. How you can do that is going to be unique to your firm, but some general practices can help.

From managing customer’s expectations of speed to optimizing your packaging, investing in cargo insurance to getting help when you need it, read on to learn how to save time and money with this guide to international shipping.

1. Balance your need for speed.

Generally, the quicker you want your shipments to be delivered, the more expensive the shipping is going to be. Therefore, it is essential that you balance your need for speed with your budget and your customer’s expectations. Customers expect reliable delivery times, not necessarily the fastest possible time, and in many cases, they are happy to wait a couple of days to bring costs down.

Therefore, your best strategy is to provide them with a variety of delivery options to choose from. That way, they can decide how much they are willing to pay and how long they can wait for their goods. Keep in mind that for most companies, the goal is to limit the number of individual shipments and instead maximize the amount of cargo shipped. This generally brings about the most efficient results.

When organizing international shipping for your customers, it is essential that you make their experience as pleasant as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by providing them with accurate shipping information that keeps their expectations in check.

2. Optimize your packaging.

One of the most overlooked ways to reduce international shipping costs is to optimize your packaging. The ideal packaging keeps your products safe and secure while also reducing shipping weight and box size so as not to receive additional charges. In order to find the optimal packaging for your goods, you need to take different factors into consideration, including a product’s height, weight, and volume.

From there, look for boxes that fit your product while leaving minimal wasted space. Additionally, choose lightweight packaging materials that still protect your items. Depending on what you are shipping, you may want to consider utilizing standard sized packaging that is provided by your freight provider, as this will remove your firm’s requirement to source custom box sizes.

When planning your packaging strategy, it is vital to think dimensionally, which means knowing the length, width, and depth, which together comprise the dimensional weight of your goods. If you are shipping in bulk, keep in mind that you want your packages to be shaped so that they can be expertly arranged to fit into the smallest size carton.

3. Invest in cargo insurance.

Just as you have insurance for your home, car, and health, it is also essential that you have coverage for your cargo. Unfortunately, it only takes one international shipping incident for your firm to feel adverse effects, which is why cargo insurance is so important. By getting this insurance, you will be covered for damaged goods, cargo theft or loss in transit, and any other unforeseen events that affect your products.

While many carriers and freight forwarders offer liability insurance, this is generally limited to a specific monetary amount and has many exclusions. Therefore, you don’t want to solely rely on this liability insurance because it usually is not enough to cover the costs of severe loss or damage. On the other hand, cargo insurance will render you a more comprehensive level of protection, ensuring you can recover the full value of lost, damaged, or stolen goods.

Having cargo insurance is highly recommended because it provides you with greater peace of mind which, in the long run, makes for a more efficient and streamlined international shipping process. The last thing you want is to be worried about your firm going under because something happens to a shipment that is out of your control. Do your company a favor and invest in cargo insurance.

4. Get help when you need it.

No matter what size your company is, what products you are shipping, or whether you are moving individual parcels or sizable cargo, there is no need to do it all on your own. After all, there are experts in these fields who have the knowledge and experience to help you reduce your costs and the number of resources you have to spend on shipping logistics.

By opting to work with an online freight forwarder, such as Shipa Freight, you are not only setting yourself up for shipping success now but also in the future. From generating an online quote to scheduling your shipments and then tracking them, an online freight forwarder provides you with all the tools you need to make your international shipping processes as streamlined as possible.

For example, as an individual, it can be challenging to locate the ports and other destinations that you need, but a high-quality freight forwarder can find them for you. Additionally, you will be personally guided by a representative throughout the process so that you can be assured that you are choosing the best options for your firm. When working with Shipa Freight, you will always be treated as a partner, not a commodity.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to international shipping, if you want to come out on top, then your firm must incorporate as many cost-saving and time-effective measures as possible. By including these steps into your international shipping strategy, you will be well on your way to having the most efficient shipping process possible.

What do you think are the most effective steps for reducing costs and time related to international shipping? What strategies does your firm use?

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As Chief Product Officer for Shipa Freight, Paul Rehmet is responsible for translating the vision of Shipa Freight into an easy-to-use online freight platform for our customers. Formerly Vice President of Digital Marketing for Agility, Paul managed Agility’s website, mobile apps, content marketing and online advertising campaigns. In his 25-year career, Paul has held various technology leadership positions with early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies including Unisys, Destiny Web Solutions, and US Airways. Paul has a Masters in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Computer Science from Brown University. Paul is based in Philadelphia.  

shippers

Shippers Capitalize on Deep-Water Improvements

Shipping lines have responded to containerized trade growth by increasing vessel size, which has resulted in fewer port calls to move the same number of containers. And larger vessel sizes also limit which ports can be called due to insufficient access channel depths and air drafts as well as cranes to serve the biggest ships.

“A useful proxy is the average size of containerships transiting the Panama Canal—which increased by 13.1 percent during the canal’s most recent fiscal year (ended Sept. 30, 2018),” states Cushman & Wakefield’s 2019 North American Port Outlook. “The Panama Canal Authority reports that its Neopanamax Locks can now handle ships of almost 15,000 TEUs. Large ship visits are now increasingly common at East Coast ports that have the requisite water depths in channels and at berths. How large will vessels get? Orders have been placed for ships as large as 23,000 TEUs.”

The industry trend toward larger vessels has caused ports to literally dig deeper, particularly on the East Coast. Port of Miami last year completed $1 billion in infrastructure improvements that increased the channel depth to 50-52 feet and also included the addition of a fast access tunnel with direct access to the interstate, the modernization of the on-dock freight rail system and the installation of new Super Post-Panamax cranes that have an outreach of 22 containers wide. Among the projects at other East Coast ports that got underway in 2019 were:

*The $32.7 million deepenings of a second container berth to 50 feet at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, which should be done later this year.

*Port of Jacksonville’s Harbor Deepening, which will take the shipping channel to a depth of 47 feet, is expected to conclude in 2023, as is a coinciding project to construct a $238.7 million international container terminal at Blount Island. JAXPORT has already widened Mile Point Harbor (only mitigation work was outstanding at press time), and turning basins at Brills Cut, which is authorized and under review, and Blount Island, which is in the design phase, are also part of the deepening project.

*Port of Virginia increasing the channel depth to: 59 feet in the Atlantic Ocean Channel; 56 feet at Thimble Shoals; and
55 feet in the Norfolk Harbor and Newport News Channels. It also includes widening the channel in select areas to include Thimble Shoals over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Deepening the Port of Charleston’s Harbor Entrance Channel up to its busiest container terminal, the Wando Welch, is expected by early 2021 and will allow the port to handle 14,000 to 18,000 TEU vessels drawing 50 feet or more without significant depth and other navigational restrictions. Port Everglades’ widening and deepening of navigation channels from 42 feet to 48-50 feet is expected to be completed between 2021-2025. The Georgia Ports Authority’s deepening of Savannah Harbor and its shipping channel from an authorized depth of 44 feet to 47 feet is slated for completion by late 2021 or early 2022.

As ports scramble to accommodate the biggest ships, some shippers have already been taking advantage of their arrival. As the Georgia Ports Authority announced in December it was on track to exceed 4.6 million TEUs for the first time in a calendar year, GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight remarked, “Exciting new business opportunities such as the export of the Georgia-made Kia Telluride, and resins produced in Pennsylvania and the Gulf States, as well as the import of cold-treated fresh produce, are driving the increase in trade through our deepwater ports.”

In roll-on/roll-off cargo, Colonel’s Island Terminal at the GPA’s Port of Brunswick handled 500,512 units of cars, trucks and tractors from January through October 2019. Ocean Terminal in Savannah added another 37,476 for a total of 537,988 units. As of December, total Ro/Ro trade was up for the year by 3,300 units, helping to make Georgia is the second busiest U.S. hub for the import-export of Ro/Ro cargo behind only Baltimore.

Another milestone was the GPA’s decade of partnership with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG), which has shipped nearly 350,000 TEU of parts and materials through the Port of Savannah to supply its manufacturing plant near the town of West Point, supporting thousands of jobs in Georgia’s transportation and logistics supply chain. Kia also sends shipments in the other direction with overseas exports of the American-made Kia SUV, the Telluride.

“From the first production equipment arriving at the Port of Savannah in 2008 to the first Kia Telluride exports that left the Port of Brunswick this past February (2019), KMMG, the Georgia Ports Authority and the State of Georgia have maintained a strong bond,” said KMMG President and CEO Jason Shin in a statement.

February 2019 was also momentous for Port Manatee, which is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal. Then-new terminal operator Carver Maritime Manatee LLC on Feb. 6 brought nearly 50,000 tons of raw material to be used in Florida cement manufacturing. The 47,650 metric tons of the bulk material brought from Europe on the Osprey I to the Central-Southwest Florida Gulf Coast port was soon followed by other Carver shipments.

As part of an agreement with Port Manatee that could extend for as many as 20 years, Carver has extensively renovated a 10-acre cargo facility with deepwater access, including rehabilitating a 1,400-foot-long conveyor system on the leased site. “We are delighted to have Carver as an active participant in the expansion of our port,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director, at the time. “Carver’s operations are a perfect complement to the increasingly diverse activity taking place at Manatee County’s seaport.”

Taking advantage of deepwater ports is not confined to the East Coast, however. In Washington state, the Port of Vancouver USA received the largest single shipment of wind turbine blades in the history blade manufacturer Vestas on June 24, 2019, breaking the previous record of 156 blades on a single ship.

The 198 blades, each measuring 161 feet long, were manufactured and shipped from Italy. Once unloaded from the ship, the blades were moved to the port’s Terminal 5, which boasts 86 acres of unobstructed laydown area with immediate proximity to the port’s deep-water berths. From there, the blades were transported by truck to the Marengo wind farm near Dayton, Washington, where they are now being used to re-power existing turbines.

“With our North American headquarters based in Portland, it is especially gratifying to be part of bringing the environmental and economic benefits of wind energy to the Pacific Northwest,” said Chris Brown, president of Vestas North America, which partnered with project owner PacifiCorp on the blade shipment. “The arrival of this shipment and its 198 blades, represent the significant supply chain industry and jobs created and supported by the wind energy economy.  We’re proud to partner with PacifiCorp and the Port to bring more wind energy benefits to Washington.”

Shrugged Vancouver USA’s Chief Commercial Officer Alex Strogen, “The port is uniquely qualified to handle these types of projects.”

 

rewards

UPS Launches Access Point Rewards Program for Increased Holiday Support

UPS customers gearing up for the upcoming holiday season are being encouraged to keep things simple in terms of shipping through the utilization of the UPS Access Point® network through the UPS My Choice® service.  By doing so, consumers can expect up to $35 in value rewards back from the shipping company from Target eGift cards to upgraded deliveries via a free UPS My Choice Premium membership.

UPS understands that busy consumers increasingly need choice, control and convenience in the delivery process, especially during the holiday season,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s chief marketing officer. “With the expanded UPS Access Point network, they get that, as well as the added bonus of not having to worry about package security, missed deliveries or hiding presents until the right time.”

The added rewards in conjunction with the Access Point network are direct initiatives supporting the needs of UPS consumers. Customers are currently offered more than 15,000 convenient pick-up destinations through the Access Point network. A survey conducted earlier this year revealed 20 percent of global shoppers expressed alternate delivery location preferences to home delivery. The Access Point network and now rewards program are direct responses to fulfill consumer demands.

To take advantage of the rewards program, consumers are encouraged to enroll (for free) in the  UPS My Choice® service for global delivery options access. An email will be sent to eligible rewards members in January 2020 with information on redeeming their rewards. To learn more about the holiday program, please visit: ups.com

ltl freight shipping

Benefits of LTL Freight Shipping

Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is a method of shipping that uses either LTL carriers or parcel carriers. The sticking point of this type of shipping is that it allows for people to put together their smaller loads (less than 150lbs, 68kg) and then ship them together with other people’s packages. This allows shipping companies to make shipments much more economically than with the FTL (full truckload) alternatives. But, besides economical benefits, there are other benefits of LTL freight shipping that you need to be aware of in order to incorporate it with your business. So, let us take a look at why LTL freight shipping is comparable and often preferable to FTL shipping.

Top Benefits of LTL Freight Shipping

The fastest way to ship your packages is to have a shipping company pick them up, load them and directly transport them to your desired location. Unfortunately, this is often the least economical way of doing it. In order to make shipping cheaper and more eco-friendly, shipping companies often have to use alternative ways of shipping. And one of the better ones is LTL. Even though it can be slower than direct FTL shipping, it allows for a much better cost and fuel efficiency. And, with modern technologies and regular use, it can be just as efficient as FTL shipping.

Shipping Cost

One of the largest benefits of LTL freight shipping is the reduced shipping cost. Since this method of shipping is based on smaller loads from various clients, it manages to reduce the overall shipping cost for everyone. This is due to the fact that by using LTL, shipping companies put together multiple smaller loads. By doing so they manage to reduce the fuel and the number of vehicles necessary to transport their loads. If they were to ship client by client, they wouldn’t be able to fill the vehicles to their maximum capacity (hence the less than truckload). But, by lumping up items together, LTL shipping manages to save cost on transport, while allowing the same service as FTL.

Eco-Friendliness

More and more companies are turning towards eco-friendliness as a necessary mode of operation. And, once you take a look at our current rate of climate change and our carbon footprint, you’ll also be hardpressed to look for eco-friendly solutions. Luckily, when it comes to shipping, LTL is one of the greener options. By reducing the amount of fuel and vehicles necessary for shipping, LTL allows shipping companies to be much greener. They are also able to figure out optimal pathways, due to more regular shipping that is common to LTL. So, if you are looking for an easy way to make your shipments greener, simply employ LTL freight shipping.

Increased Safety

The first way that LTL freight shipping increases the safety of your items is with ample packing. Companies like Triple 7 Movers will first make sure that your possessions are properly packed. Then they will repack them each time the total LTL shipment is altered. By reapplying protective covers, they ensure the safety of your possessions from both physical and environmental harm. Individual loads are usually either packed on a parcel and then secured, or the company puts them in protective containers. This allows for maximum safety during shipping as well as easy handling.

Another safety feature of LTL freight shipping is that there is almost no chance of a package getting misplaced. By using tracking technologies, safety measures, and notification requirements, moving companies ensure that any package on board is well looked after. Furthermore, shipping companies usually organize LTL shipping routes with as few stops as possible. This allows them to keep packages safe for the entirety of the trip.

Better Organization

The biggest worry people have about LTL freight shipping is the supposed lack of availability. After all, with an FTL, you have the control of timing and the necessary route. Meanwhile, the LTL shipments are often limited by their route and the necessary drops. So, can better organization really be one of the benefits of LTL freight shipping? Well, as it turns out, it can. LTL freight shipping is ideal for customers who have regular shipments. Shipping companies often group up regular customers together. This allows them to achieve a greater degree of reliability and consistency. Along with regular shipments, companies also use automation to figure out optimal routes.

But, the true beauty of modern LTL freight shipping is that you don’t have to rely on your shipping company’s skills alone. Modern technologies allow clients to track their packages and get live notifications of any delays or setbacks. Therefore, with LTL freight shipping, you should be able to run your business and both send and receive your shipments with a high degree of reliability.

Shipping Options

Most shipping companies offer various shipping options. These options can come at a higher cost, but they can also make your shipping much better organized. Some of them are:

Expedient shipping – You can use this option if you want your goods to arrive faster than standard transit time. This option can often be quite costly, but it is quite useful for emergency shipping.

Liftgate – Does you freight exceeds 100 pounds? Then you should opt for Liftgate. Also, consider using it if the receiving location doesn’t have a clear dock for shipments.

Limited access – You can use this type of LTL for areas that have limited access due to safety reasons. So, for your construction sites or rural locations, you would probably want to choose this kind of shipping.

Custom delivery window – If you need your shipment to arrive within a specific period, you can opt for custom delivery windows. Most companies will deal with your package so that it fits their workload. This allows them to deal with transport cheaply and efficiently. So, this option can also be costly and should, therefore, be used with ample forethought.

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.

blockchain

BLOCKCHAIN COULD REPLACE MOUNDS OF PAPER AT THE BORDER

This is the third in a three-part series by Christine McDaniel for TradeVistas on how blockchain technologies will play an increasing role in international trade.

What’s Even Better Than No Tariffs?

Smoother and faster customs procedures could boost global trade volumes and economic output even more than if governments were to eliminate the remaining tariffs throughout the world – up to six times according to an estimate by the World Bank.

Blockchain is a promising technology that, if widely adopted by shippers and customs agencies, could reduce the current mounds of paperwork and costs associated with import and export licenses, cargo and shipping documents, and customs declarations.

Below the Snazzy Surface of Trade Policy

Trade agreements work when the people who want to buy and sell across borders can use them. Engaging in international trade transactions requires diving into the rules and regulations of international customs processes. Businesses either have someone in-house to handle this or they hire companies whose business it is to manage these processes.

Moving goods through the customs process means preparing the relevant paperwork for import or export at each step in the process. The paperwork at each step must be confirmed and verified, sometimes separately by different people. These procedures — in rich and poor countries alike — can be complex, opaque and laden with inefficiencies that raise costs and cause delays at best. At worst, less automated processes can leave the door open to corruption and security breaches.

paperwork in shipping

Trade policymakers have increasingly focused on simplifying and modernizing customs procedures — a policy approach commonly known as “trade facilitation.” Nearly all modern free trade agreements have a trade facilitation chapter and the World Trade Organization has an entire Trade Facilitation Agreement devoted to eliminating red tape at national borders to streamline the global movement of goods.

Too Much Paperwork

The international shipping industry carries 90 percent of the world’s trade in goods but is surprisingly dependent on paper documentation. In a New York Times article, Danish shipping company Maersk commented that tracking containers is straightforward. It’s the “mountains of paperwork that go with each container” that slow down the process.

A shipping container can spend significant time just waiting for someone to cross the t’s and dot the i’s on the paperwork. Delays pose real costs to traders and represent a deadweight loss of resources that could have been spent elsewhere in a more productive manner. The cost of handling documentation is so high that it can be even more expensive than the cost of transporting the actual shipping containers.

Beginning in 2014, Maersk began tracking specific goods such as avocados and cut flowers to determine the true weight of compliance costs and intermediation. The company discovered that a single container moving from Africa to Europe required nearly 200 communications and the verification and approval of more than 30 organizations involved in customs, tax and health-related matters. Maersk’s office in Kenya has storage rooms filled from floor to ceiling with paper records dating back to 2014.

single container paperwork v2

Lost Opportunities

Inefficiencies in customs processes create chain reactions, extending the costs and inefficiencies throughout the transportation industry and all the way to the consumer. In just one example, as many as 1,500 trucks might be lined up on a given day on both sides of the critical border crossing between Bangladesh and India. Many trucks wait up to five days before crossing. Examples like this are not hard to find in developing countries.

Delays for perishable items are painfully costly for traders, but also for consumers. Economist Lan Liu and economist and horticultural scientist Chengyan Yue examinedlettuce and apple imports in 183 countries. They determined that reducing delays from two days to one would increase lettuce imports in those countries by around 35 percent, or an additional 504,714 tons of lettuce, increasing in world consumer welfare by $2.1 billion. The same improvement would increase apple imports by 15 percent, enabling shipment of an additional 731,937 tons and increasing consumer welfare by around $1.1 billion.

Complexity Makes Corruption Easier

Fraud constitutes a major threat to the customs process. Fraudulent behavior can involve the forgery of bills of lading and other export documentation such as certifications of origin. A fraudulent shipper could claim “lost” goods, underreport the cargo, and steal the difference. Or a shipper could misrepresent the amount or quality of shipped goods and pay less than the required amount for their imports.

Fraud can be perpetrated by a shipper, by the receiver of goods, a customs official, or an interloping third party. The greater the complexity of customs procedures and the more discretion granted to customs officials, the more likely corruption will be present at the border, creating both risk and costs for companies working to avoid corruption.

Indeed, corruption acts as a “hidden tariff” for companies and reduces legitimate customs revenue for governments. The World Customs Organization estimates the loss of revenue caused by customs-related corruption to be at least $2 billion.

Blockchain Makes Corruption Harder

Blockchain is a digital distributed ledger that is secure by design. Each transaction in the shipping process is uploaded to the chain if (and only if) it is agreed upon by the other users. It is nearly impossible to make a fraudulent claim or edit past transactions without the approval of the other users in the network.

Blockchain could discourage corruption by simplifying procedures and reducing the number of government offices and officials involved in each transaction. Each transaction can also be audited in real time, allowing users to see exactly when and where disputes arise and exactly what the discrepancies are.

This level of transparency enables participants in the network to hold each other accountable for mistakes or purposeful deception. Though blockchain does not prevent false information from being entered into the system, it does reduce opportunities for the original information to be corrupted by intermediaries involved in the shipping process. Rather than parties relying on the good faith of shippers and customs agents, blockchain greater assurance of the integrity of each transactional record.

Blockchain technology in customs and border-crossing procedures could also be used to prevent circumvention and transshipment—that is, when shippers send goods to a neighboring country before the destination country in an attempt to avoid tariffs on goods from the real country of origin. The importer ends up liable for duties and penalties. (For example, some exporters from China are now sending finished products through Vietnam to avoid new U.S. tariffs on goods from China.)

All In on Blockchain?

The use of blockchain in customs processing is still nascent. An advisory group for U.S. Customs and Border Protection is broadly exploring the role of emerging technologies like blockchain.

IBM and Maersk have partnered to demonstrate how blockchain can simplify shipping. Their plan would allow all parties involved in a container’s shipment to observe and track the container from inception to endpoint. For example, after a customs agent verifies the contents of a container, they can immediately upload information to the blockchain with a unique digital fingerprint that visible to all other users. The ease of access to information throughout the blockchain system reduces time-consuming correspondence among the parties.

For all this to work, customs agencies, shippers and suppliers will have to cooperate to integrate blockchain technology along the supply chain and across borders. By reducing time and cost, blockchain could be a boon to the majority of honest global shippers. By providing greater accuracy and transparency, blockchain would be a bust for dishonest brokers who manipulate the current inefficiencies in customs procedures to commit fraud or gain from corruption.

ChristineMcDaniel

Christine McDaniel a former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and deputy assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

 

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