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GEORGIA PORTS AUTHORITY GETS EVEN BIGGER SHIP READY

Georgia ports

GEORGIA PORTS AUTHORITY GETS EVEN BIGGER SHIP READY

The completion of Garden City Terminal dock construction allows the Port of Savannah to serve three 14,000-TEU vessels as well as up to eight vessels simultaneously. But now the Georgia Ports Authority has announced the acquisition of 145 contiguous acres to the port that will allow for more than 1 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in annual capacity.

“As the Georgia Ports Authority enters its 75th year, we are proud to follow in the tradition of those who came before us, making exciting advances in capacity and technology to ensure our terminals remain at the forefront of global commerce,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch at the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference on Feb. 4. “This is the largest addition of container terminal space in Savannah in more than 20 years, and represents a powerful opportunity for Georgia to take on new trade.”

Construction currently underway at the Ocean Terminal container yard is expected to be completed by the end of this year. An additional berth to be finished by 2023 will mean Garden City Terminal will have four big ship slots. A new Savannah Container Terminal on Hutchinson Island is projected to come online in 2025. The GPA’s goal is to increase its capacity to more than 9 million TEUs by 2030.

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 439,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $25 billion in income, $106 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy, according to the GPA.

port

PORT CITY REVIEW: THESE 20 SEAPORT COMMUNITIES HELP DRIVE THE U.S. ECONOMY

Ports are “crucial to the economy,” Texas economist Ray Perryman wrote in 2017. “Ports generate substantial business activity through their operations, but those benefits are dwarfed by the huge importance of water transportation to other industries.” In this survey of 20 U.S. port cities, we look at various engines of economic development and see how they tie into the seaport.

TAMPA, FLORIDA

Since 2009, the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council (EDC) has acted as the is the lead designated economic development agency for Hillsborough County as well as the cities of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace. The EDC offers a variety of incentives (infrastructure, workforce training, targeted industry and special opportunities) and tax breaks for companies that create high-wage jobs in high-value industries. Companies can also apply for workforce training grants and tax exemption programs. In addition, the Tampa Bay EDC also aids those wishing to take advantage of real estate opportunities at Port Tampa Bay (the largest deepwater port in the state), Port Redwing and Port Ybor.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) serves as the administrator of that city’s Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). The FTZ offers duty-free treatment for companies importing and exporting goods, and it saw nearly $20 billion worth of shipments in 2017. Much of that passed through the Port of Baltimore, which is one of the 10 busiest in the nation. According to the BDC, “With merchandise such as cars, paper and steel, 2017 saw the total FTZ international revenue rise from $44 million in 2016, to more than $396 million in 2017.” The BDC also provides a number of programs for entrepreneurs, small businesses and tax credits for supermarkets willing to open or renovate in targeted areas of the city.

MATAGORDA COUNTY, TEXAS

Matagorda County’s two shallow draft ports—Port of Bay City and Port of Balacios—are part of what makes the area’s location so desirable, according to the Matagorda County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). Both ports have nearby parcels available for long-term lease and development. Those wishing to do so may qualify for a host of incentives offered by the Matagorda County EDC, including tax abatements, an industrial revenue bond program, the Texas Enterprise fund for job creation, permit assistance, special discretionary loans, sales and use tax exemptions and various other training and capital funds.

VENTURA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

Starting in 2019, the Port of Hueneme began a partnership with the Ventura County Economic Development Collaborative (EDC), Matter Labs and Naval Base Ventura County known as MAST (Maritime Advanced Systems & Technology). MAST is a laboratory at the port to incubate new technology and attract venture capital. “By leveraging the unique geographic, operational and environmental assets located at the Port of Hueneme, MAST invites entrepreneurs with an optimized solution a surrounding for sustained research, experimentation and test programs,” port officials say. This fits in perfectly with the EDC’s mission of promoting job growth through start-up assistance, special financing packages and workforce training programs.

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) provides a dizzying array of tax incentives to companies wishing to locate or expand in Savannah. The organization’s Business Retention Action Team (BRAT) also offers workforce training, assistance on decreasing energy use, logistics and engineering information and even free pre-OSHA audits. Because the need for warehousing space to accommodate the ever-growing Port of Savannah was consuming so much land, in 2019 SEDA developed the 719-acre Savannah Manufacturing Center. To attract tech firms, the project includes a host of county and city tax exemptions, according to an Oct. 23, 2019, story in Worth.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

Created in 2011, the Economic and Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis and Shelby County coordinates public resources and incentives for economic growth in those municipalities. EDGE manages Foreign Trade Zone 77, provides special business loans and tax incentives and also manages the Memphis Port Commission, which oversees the Port of Memphis. In November 2017, EDGE approved a $327,500 contract to develop a master plan for the port. Produced nearly a year later, that plan calls far a variety of infrastructure upgrades to ensure that the port will still be in use 20 to 50 years from now.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance has long sought to strengthen and diversify that city’s economy through services and incentives aimed at helping companies expand or relocate there. The organization helps with business location, market research and workforce training. GFLA also supports various international trade initiatives, in hopes of increasing imports and exports in Fort Lauderdale. Port Everglades, which plays a key role in global trade initiatives and is the preeminent seaport in Florida in terms of revenue, was responsible for $34 billion in economic activity in 2018, according to the port authority.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

“We are New Yorkers, working for New Yorkers,” say the officials who run the New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC). The NYCEDC prides itself on helping to grow and help companies become more sustainable. In 2015, the NYCEDC took a big step in doing this by signing a lease agreement with the City of New York to develop the old South Brooklyn Marine Terminal at Port NYC. Three years later, in May 2018, NYCEDC announced that their new Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal would serve as a new and major shipping hub that would create 250 near-term jobs, expand future growth and job creation and eliminate the need for 11,000 truck trips every year.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest seaport in the western hemisphere. As such, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC) provides a number of services to ensure that the port—and those companies and workers who rely on it—continues to grow. It publishes a variety of reports each year on the city’s international trade outlook, assists companies in finding international trade opportunities, brings international investment into LA through its World Trade Center Los Angeles affiliate and helps ensure low-interest financing is available for projects.

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

Since 1956, Wilmington Business Development (WBD) has worked to bring more companies to the region. It does this through market research, partnership development and technical assistance. There’s no better example of this than WBD’s recent partnership with Chesterfield LLC and the Port of Wilmington to construct a 425,000-square-foot, build-to-suit facility at the port, which will handle both imports and exports. As a marketing partner in the venture, WBD will promote the project and attract tenants.

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the John H. Chafee Center for International Business, the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. (RICC) assists Providence companies in entering export markets. This allows companies to join trade missions, learn how to market themselves internationally and get specialized training. Though the Port of Providence (ProvPort) is relatively small, it has been a commercial seaport since the 1600s, which is why RICC partnered with the port in 2017 to implement a bond measure that would expand the port’s size and influence.

MOBILE, ALABAMA

For the past three decades, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) has worked to help companies grow in the state, and compete throughout the world. It offers assistance for start-ups on obtaining special credits, help with the various free trade zones around the state and information on the AlabamaSAVES loan program to make it easy to get energy efficient. EDPA also provides help for those companies wishing to compete globally—which is made vastly easier by the Port of Mobile, which is responsible for more than 134,000 jobs and more than $22 billion in economic impact.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

The Port of New Orleans plays an outsized role in that region’s economic growth. It supports nearly 120,000 jobs and almost $30 billion in revenue, according to an April 15, 2019, article in Biz New Orleans. Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO), which has long assisted companies in the region that wish to grow or compete internationally, recognizes that New Orleans’ growth simply couldn’t happen without the port. “In recent years, the Port of New Orleans has emerged as not only a record-breaking cargo and cruise facility, but remains an economic development powerhouse,” said GNO President Michael Hecht in the Biz New Orleans article. “Thanks to the Port’s leadership and partnership, New Orleans is well on its way to reclaiming its economic and maritime preeminence.”

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

The East Bay Economic Development Alliance (EDA) has been assisting the Port of Oakland (which today handles 99 percent of the containerized goods that move through Northern California) to grow for the past three decades. The EDA supported the port’s need to dredge the harbor in 1991 and again in 2009, meeting with conservationists, shipping interests and others to build a consensus. In 2003, the EDA also met with stakeholders to resolve the transportation impacts created by the port’s growth. The result was a recommendation to move the transportation and distribution facilities that support the port.

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (EDA) has long assisted both domestic and international firms wishing to invest in the Norfolk area. The EDA provides all manner of services and assistance in finding a location, banking, obtaining permits, staffing and auditing. The EDA can also provide help for those companies wishing to take advantage of the three lucrative tax incentives offered by the State of Virginia to firms that use the Port of Norfolk: the Port Volume Increase Tax Credit, Barge and Rail Use Tax Credit and International Trade Facility Tax Credit.

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS

Since 1992, companies wishing to locate or expand in Brownsville have been able to call upon the services of the Brownsville Economic Development Corp. (BEDC). The BEDC offers qualifying firms job creation incentives that range from $2,000 to $10,000 per each job created. Bringing together business leaders, location consulting and permit assistance are some of the other services the BEDC offers to companies in Brownsville. Critical to the city is the Port of Brownsville, the only deepwater port on the U.S./Mexico border, which the port authority said was responsible for $3 billion in economic activity in 2018.

MIAMI, FLORIDA

The Economic Development Council (EDC) of South Miami-Dade formed in 1993, following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Andrew. In addition to assisting companies in moving to Miami or expanding their current location, the EDC provides firms with market information as well as assistance in qualifying for tax incentives. Another key role of the EDC is focusing on “the betterment of any deficiency in the regional infrastructure which is a hindrance to economic vitality.” PortMiami, one of the most important elements in the Miami economy, impacts more than 334,000 jobs and supports about $43 billion in overall economic activity.

CLEVELAND, OHIO

Job creation in Northeast Ohio has been at the forefront of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) since its founding in 2004. The organization advocates for Cleveland businesses, while also providing them with vital assistance in getting access to capital, securing tax incentives and finding and retaining staff. In 2018, the GCP helped local companies create nearly 2,000 jobs, while retaining more than 12,000. The Port of Cleveland, which is the hub of about $3.5 billion in economic activity for the region, supports nearly 20,000 jobs.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) has leveraged more than $25 billion in investment and helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs since its founding in 1958. It manages commercial and industrial real estate, delivers grant funding for development projects, provides resources for companies located in underserved, low-income parts of the city and sponsors investment opportunities in projects that qualify for the U.S. Immigration Investor Program. PhilaPort has been central to the growth of Philadelphia, returning more than $70 million in revenue to the city and providing more than 10,000 jobs.

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

It’s remarkable just how much the STL Partnership accomplishes in the name of economic development. The organization manages opportunity zones to encourage urban investment, provides workforce development, helps companies engage on the global market, provides tax incentives and loan assistance, runs innovation centers for startups and assists companies with site selection. The STL Partnership and the St. Louis County Port Authority have been partners since the Mississippi River flood of 1993. Then, they joined to develop the Lemay Comprehensive Plan, which helped redevelop the old National Lead site and establish a community reinvestment fund.

U.S.-China

U.S.-China Trade War of 2019 Spills into 2020 for Ports, Shippers and Manufacturers

The Jan. 15 signing of a U.S.-China Phase One agreement did spawn a sigh of relief among those troubled by the trade tensions between the two nations. But six days later, a warning came from a couple experts closely watching the unfolding events on behalf of ports, shipping lines and manufacturers. The crux of that warning? Stay tuned.

“This is a truce,” said Phil Levy, chief economist at Flexport, a San Francisco-based freight forwarding and custom brokerage company. “This is not the end of the trade war.”

Levy shared that opinion as he joined his company’s CEO Ryan Peterson in leading a webinar on Jan. 21 that was listened in on electronically by some of their 10,000 clients in more than 200 countries. Those who rely on the company’s expertise in ocean, air, truck and rail freight, drayage & cartage, warehousing, customs brokerage, financing and insurance–all informed and powered by Flexport’s unique software platform—heard Levy say of the U.S.-China trade war: “We haven’t seen a retaliatory escalation of this magnitude in the post-World War II era. … This really was a 2019 story that worsened throughout the year.”

He pointed to a graphic that showed trade between the world’s two biggest economies fell markedly last year, and that no one overseeing trans-Pacific supply chains were immune from economic harm. Many webinar participants could relate as 64 percent of Flexport’s customers rely on the trans-Pacific trade routes, according to Peterson.

Yes, the Phase One deal was a positive first step, but Levy pointed to some examples of lasting victims from the trade war. It exposed the continued “decay,” as the economist put it, of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is supposed to prevent the escalation of trade disputes. The “keeper of peace” amid trade tensions was largely frozen out of U.S.-China talks and, therefore, silent as events transpired.

A second heavy blow came in December 2019, when the WTO’s appellate body ceased to function, according to Levy, who noted that the formation of the “WTO system was one of core achievements since World War II.”

Peterson found equally worrisome the first-ever disappearance of peak season when it comes to shipping. As many known, imports grow during the fall and really heat up by November’s holiday shopping season. That not happening in 2019, couple with a steady decline is U.S. imports from China after years of solid growth, is a reason for concern, according to the CEO, who maintained, “global trade is down due to tariffs.”

For one thing, not having a peak season to rely on, coupled with steadily declining trade, “from our perspective makes life very hard to plan for,” Peterson said.

He did see on the horizon what many may view as a green lining: lower freight fees and consumer prices. “Lower prices do sound good,” Peterson conceded, “until someone goes bankrupt. We want stability, predictability. Things getting too cheap is unpredictable. You are playing with fire.”

Feel the burn? Peterson called our current “degree of uncertainty relatively unprecedented. We learn about things in a tweet. Was that really implemented or not?” As an example, he cited France proposing a digital tax and President Donald Trump striking back with threats of tariffs on cheese and wine. “Is that policy or not?” Peterson asked rhetorically. “Right now it’s a tweet. It makes it very hard to plan for.”

Levy warned “there is no safe play.” You can withstand the brunt of the tariffs and see what that does to your bottom line, or you can figure out a way to work around them and then have a trade deal come along with no way to return to normal operations quickly enough.

As Peterson pointed out, it’s not just the sting of the tariffs but the amount of paperwork and other adjustments one must handle while trying to remain agile. That time takes away from other things you need to be doing with your business.

Speaking of time away, Levy believes there will be no further movement in deescalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China until after America’s November presidential election. He suspects that China agreed to the Phase One conditions, which were much more weighted against that country than the U.S., “to buy a year of peace.” He added that China could be playing it coy in the weeks ahead as Beijing awaits the outcome that determines whether they will continue to deal with Trump or a new White House occupant. “If Trump loses, it’s likely the trade agreement will change anyway,” Levy said.

In the meantime … uncertainty. Peterson noted that one Flexport client had to close a manufacturing plant due to the tariffs. Levy held onto the hope that an eventual U.S.-China trade deal will be beneficial economically, pointing to markets that opened up with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement. But you never know, as evidenced by USMCA having also resulted in some restricted trade, particularly in the automobile sector. “That was disappointing,” he admitted.

Don’t be surprised if the pain ultimately spreads, as Levy predicted what will happen after the U.S.-China trade war comes to a head. “There are a lot of signs the president will turn his trade policy focus away from China and toward Europe,” said Levy, who later noted Trump has also begun accusing Vietnam of cheating when it comes to trade.

So what to do about all this?

“My stance is there is nothing more important than agility, the ability to adapt,” Peterson said of dealing with tariffs, real or threatened. “It can mean restructuring a supply chain or seeking exemptions.” Companies that foster a culture with an ability to adapt can look at these challenges, Peterson says, and respond: “Bring it on, bring on the change.”

Qatar Trade Summit

Qatar Trade Summit: Innovation and Disruption Revolutionising the Logistics Industry in Qatar.

Valuable insights into the future of Qatar’s Trade and investments sector aligned with logistics and supply chain in the region will be showcased at the exclusive Qatar Trade Summit scheduled to take place from 25th to 27th November 2019 in Doha, Qatar, The summit is Qatar’s only event focusing on the nation’s economic diversification plans and progress with strategic plans on becoming the regions logistics hub. 

The summit will strive to examine the nation’s potential on becoming the region’s economic powerhouse via 3 days of deliberations on sea ports development, Shipping and Air Cargo industry, future of logistics and supply chain as well as a final day dedicated to engage in interactive sessions on Qatar’s trade and investment prospects. Attending delegates and partners will get a first-hand knowledge of Qatar’s logistics and supply chain industry, the planned development of sea ports to support regional growth, the influence of shipping air cargo and the free zones in opening up opportunities for regional and foreign companies to invest and do business in Qatar” stated Allan Martin, Communications Director, Qatar Trade Summit. 

All aspects of the shipping industry, port development, air cargo, supply chain and logistics and trade and investments will be discussed at this summit. The event will engage the entire ecosystem of the logistics business in Qatar focusing on procurement, forwarding, planning, new business, infrastructure and investments. The theme of the summit is to explore the scale of innovation and disruption which is revolutionizing the logistics industry in Qatar and the nation’s keen intent on diversifying into a thriving economy prior to the prestigious FIFA 2022 football world cup taking place in Qatar. Qatar Trade Summit will directly impact a comprehensive range of sectors in the region and will cover solutions and products to uplift these sectors. The areas covered will be Ship building, Port management, Port Infrastructure development, Air Cargo expansion, Logistics and supply chain solutions and the investments and business opportunities in Qatar. 

The summit’s profile includes key dignitaries such as H.E. Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO, Qatar Airways, Capt. Abdulla Al-Khanji, CEO, Mwani Qatar, Qatar, Mr. Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai, President & CEO, MILAHA, Qatar, Mr. Lim Meng Hui, CEO, Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA), Mr. James Baker, Editor, Lloyd’s List Containers, UK, Mr. Glyn Hughes, Global Head of IATA Cargo, Switzerland, Mr. Turhan Özen, Chief Cargo Officer, Turkish Airlines, Mr. Amadou Diallo, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding, Middle East & Africa, Mr. Bertrand Maltaverne, Solutions Consultant, Ivalua, Austria, Mr. Fikret Ersoy, MD, BDP International, Middle East, Turkey & Africa from Qatar and across the globe who will be presenting at the conference and the summit will also host some of the world’s best solution providers and also invite attendees from leading government and private entities from Qatar. 

The Qatar Trade Summit will also feature one of the most exhaustive and inclusive knowledge sessions seen at a national summit. The conference will include 19 topics spread across 4 sessions, and two key workshops all scheduled over 3 days of high level networking and interaction. Qatar Trade Summit will assist in realising Qatar’s ambitions to become the logistics and trade leader in the Middle East. 

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About Organizer: © Qatar Trade Summit | Allan Martin | Email: info@qatartradesummit.com | allan@qatartradesummit.com | UK Tel: +44 20 3807 8492 | India Mobile: +91 96061 70760 Qatar Contact: Saf | Tel: +974 33834548 | +974 66947607 | saf@apexqatar.com LinkedIn: Qatar Trade Summit | twitter: @tradeqatar 

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.

Agility & Speed Essential for East Coast Port Growth

When the Evergreen Triton arrived at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore on May 24, it became the largest container ship ever to visit Maryland. The vessel that can handle 14,424 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers surpassed the 11,000-TEU Gunde Maersk, which as of the previous October had been the largest container ship to ever visit Maryland. The Gunde Maersk had one upped a 9,700-TEU Mediterranean Shipping Co. vessel, which in 2017 became the Maryland record-setter.

Exactly 30 days before the Evergreen Triton milestone, the Jacksonville Port Authority set a record when the ZIM vessel Kota Pekarang became the largest container ship to ever call JAXPORT. The 11,923-TEU vessel transited the Panama Canal from Northeast Asia before reaching the U.S. East Coast and discharging and loading cargo at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal on April 24. Less than a month before that—on March 18, to be precise—the 11,000-TEU ZIM vessel Cape Sounio had become the JAXPORT record-holder when it docked at Blount Island.

To say that the biggest of the big ships have been coming fast and furious to select East Coast ports lately would be an understatement, not that any of these calls caught anyone off guard. “Thanks to Maryland’s investment in a 50-foot berth, every year we are seeing larger and larger container ships choosing the Port of Baltimore,” Governor Larry Hogan said upon the Evergreen Triton arrival. Likewise,  JAXPORT, which is Florida’s No. 1 container port complex by volume, is deepening its harbor to keep up with the biggest-of-the-big-ship demand.

According to recently released rankings of America’s top 30 ports by TEUs in 2018, the Port of Los Angeles and its Southern California sister the Port of Long Beach hold the top two spots respectively, just as they did in 2017. But LA’s TEU growth of 5.40 percent in 2018 from 2017, as well as Long Beach’s 6.80 percent jump over the same period, were below the 7.80 percent combined average of the nation’s top 30 ports. Meanwhile, though the Port of New York and New Jersey and Port of Savannah (Georgia) maintained their 2017 slots as the country’s third and fourth top ports in 2018 respectively, those East Coast ports saw TEU year-to-year growth rise by 12.80 percent and 10.80 percent.

“New York came closer than ever to overtaking Long Beach as the second largest port for imports after the raising of the Bayonne Bridge and investments by Maersk in new cranes allowed a 12.8 percent rise in shipments, leaving it with a 14.5 percent share of all seaborne imports to the United States,” writes Patrick Burnson, executive editor with Logistics Management, in a piece crunching the top port numbers. Burnson goes on to credit the widening of the Panama Canal in 2016—which led to East Coast ports deepening their channels and erecting massive cranes to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels—with the Eastern Seaboard’s continued rise.

Savannah’s upgrades are credited with drawing shipping business away from others in the East. Among those who have taken notice is Seaboard Marine, which in May launched a new direct, all-water service that will have both refrigerated and dry container service to and from the Port of Savannah and North Central America, including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

A different public-private partnership is credited with spurring the growth enjoyed by the state of Maryland, whose Department of Transportation points to its Maryland Port Administration and Ports America Chesapeake. So far that pact has brought about a 50-foot deep channel and 50-foot deep berth to accommodate the mega-ships traveling through the Panama Canal and past other ports before pulling into the Old Line State, which may be compelled to change its nickname to the “Old and New Shipping Line State.”

As Bayard Hogans, vice president of Ports America Chesapeake, said upon Triton’s arrival, “The partnership between the Port of Baltimore, Ports America Chesapeake and Evergreen will continue to allow the world’s largest container ships to deliver the goods and commodities that power America’s economy through Maryland.”

A different partnership is paying dividends at another East Coast port. The rearrangement of services prompted by container alliances forged overseas has been cited as a factor in the Port of Miami experiencing 20.80 percent TEU growth in 2018 compared to a year before.

There are 1 billion reasons PortMiami shows up on the international shipping radar—namely $1 billion in infrastructure projects that have created an on-dock intermodal rail system, dredged the deep-water channel to welcome Post-Panamax vessels and carved a direct-access tunnel leading to the interstate highway system. And don’t forget PortMiami Foreign Trade Zone 281. PortMiami’s cargo and container ship operations, coupled with its world-famous luxury cruise line industry, are credited with generating $43 billion in economic activity countywide and statewide.

The gulf side of Florida is also getting attention from abroad, as proven by French container shipping giant CMA CGM having launched service to Port Tampa Bay in late May. The new Pacific Express 3 service rotation is: Singapore; Vung Tau; Hong Kong; Shekou; Ningbo; Shanghai; Busan; Panama Canal; Houston; Mobile; New Orleans; Tampa; Miami; and back to Singapore.

Port Tampa Bay, which was at the ready with two Post-Panamax cranes to complement three existing gantry cranes, is currently investing in new facilities to further diversify its service and implementing a phased build-out plan to quadruple capacity over the next few years.

Another move that began outside the U.S. that is expected to help East Coast ports is the London-based International Maritime Organization imposing its low-sulfur fuel rule that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The resulting number crunching spurred by the higher fuel costs is expected to ultimately draw ships away from the Suez Canal in favor of the shorter route from Asia to the American East Coast through the Panama Canal. This is despite the Central American waterway’s transit fees being higher than what the Suez Canal Authority charges.

As the larger ports along the Eastern Seaboard make the billion-dollar moves aimed at luring the world’s largest container vessels, smaller operations are also finding success filling niches. Take, for instance, the Connecticut Port Authority, whose main port at New London is about halfway between New York and Boston. Though the CPA was only formed in 2016, it has already filled a niche when it comes to wind energy. In yet another public-private partnership, the CPA; Gateway, which operates terminals in New Haven; Eversource, the regional energy provider previously known as Northeast Utilities; and Denmark-based Ørsted are the players in the Bay State Wind joint venture. Among Bay State Wind’s upcoming projects is the $93 million redevelopment of State Pier in New London.

How Global Shippers Optimize Deep-water Strategies

Deep-water ports continue to make leaps and bounds within the trade sector, increasing overall twenty-foot equivalent units while breaking new ground and records, as seen this year with the Georgia Ports Authority’s recent confirmation of an impressive 4.36 million TEUs for 2018 and projecting a continuation of success for 2019. The port recorded 8 percent growth compared to the 2017 numbers.

Executive Director Griff Lynch cites the combination of cargo expansion and increased U.S. demand with shifting the global logistics arena toward the deep-water terminals in Savannah. The port implemented a strategy focusing on trade in December that was projected to set them up for continued success.

The Connecticut Port Authority claims that efforts toward integrating solutions that fit individual maritime needs are the driving factors behind its growth and successes.

In a detailed report highlighting deep-water port trends, the environment was the first on the list of increased industry concern and priority, which can prove problematic for trucking companies and beneficial for global shippers that anticipate regulation changes before industry competitors do. In 2020, the IMO fuel sulfur regulation will officially change how emissions are handled, ultimately restricting options for those who want to maintain uninterrupted operations. With this regulation change, there will be a 0.5 percent global sulfur limit on fuel emissions.

Proactivity is the driving force behind the success and stability of shippers looking for solutions for sustainability. Seatrade Maritime News presents three options that shippers should take into consideration sooner rather than later: install exhaust gas cleaning systems; purchase fuels within compliance (which are at a higher cost); or run ships on liquid natural gas. Whatever the choice might be, the demand for each of these tangible solutions is bound to increase drastically and change the pace for the global refineries.

“Global refiners will be put under enormous strain by the shifting product slate,” explains the International Energy Agency. “If refiners ran at similar utilization rates to today, they would be unlikely to be able to produce the required volumes of gas oil. If they increased throughputs to produce the required gas oil volumes, margins would be adversely affected by the law of diminishing returns. In order to increase gas oil output, less valuable products at the top and bottom of the barrel would be produced in tandem, which would likely see cracks for these products weaken and weigh margins down.”

Beyond proactivity and preparation, global deep-water ports focus on redefining infrastructure while evaluating opportunities for significant increases in cargo intake. But what about the ports that aren’t seeing the results they want? Let’s take a look at the European ports and the challenges and proposed solutions featured in an article from Port Strategy. Of all the solutions presented and discussed, the first was the need for infrastructure evaluation.

“The challenge ports everywhere face now,” details a report shared by the ESPO, “is to implement projects which often are financially unattractive to the port authority and even less attractive to external investors, but which are essential for wider societal and economic reasons. Some ports are financially strong enough to finance such projects and accept the low financial returns. Other ports are challenged to implement projects which are essential but are entirely beyond their means.”

Another challenge is the demand for increased cargo but a limit in capacity, as many ports claim they are close to reaching max capacity but can’t provide an opportunity for competitors to swoop up that for which they can’t make room. Gauging these issues requires a carefully thought out and strategic approach to ensure shippers evaluate the next steps for 2019.

In the theme of modernization, Port of Oakland shared insight into its 2018-2022 strategic plan, which is inclusive of growing net revenue, modernizing and maintaining infrastructure, care for the environment and improving customer service. The use of technology to streamline operations was one of the highlighted objectives and strategies (impacting almost every area of the business) that the report emphasized on. In the age of information technology, automation and technology solutions, this goal would provide more than just a seamless flow of information, but it would supply owners, customers and employees improved efficiencies and reduced room for error. There seems to be a trend among these ports.

“Each of our businesses has specific modernization and maintenance objectives to meet, notably development of long-term asset management plans,” states the Port of Oakland report. “Moreover, those objectives require careful attention to environmental, social responsibility and human resources issues.”

The key to implementing strong logistics solutions can be found in an all-in-one approach that is inclusive of your company goals and vision, the well being and safety of your employees, customer satisfaction, competitive advantage as well as cost-effectiveness and proactivity. The common denominator is found in digitization through advanced technology solutions, fully integrated within the service platforms, touching on all bases of the operations and supply chain.

For 2019, more of these solutions will become the wining differentiator with competitors, and the demand for digital integration will continue to rise. Take advantage of the opportunities to research and learn the primary areas of improvement, addressing those first. The primary issues will ultimately impact the remaining areas of your business–start at the root and go from there. Implement proactive measures to ensure your company is well prepared for changes in regulations, considering long-term solutions over short term. Consider analyzing what competitors are doing; this is just as important as knowing what they are not doing to stay ahead in the markets.

Vincent Campfens, author of IBM’s THINK blog, put success initiatives into perspective: “Being a smart port is much more than merely introducing awesome new technology into a port to make it safer, more efficient and more sustainable. It is also about looking further ahead in time, making strategic choices to ensure that the port still exists in the future, whilst responding to changes in climate, politics, technology, industries and cargo flows. One of our recent strategic choices is a targeted commitment to digital innovation.”

Largest Shipment in December Received at Port of Wilmington

The season’s shipment of Chilean winter fruit arrived at the Port of Wilmington post-holiday on December 27. The shipment, brought by a refrigerated vessel known as the Star Best, contained over 676,000 boxes of fresh table grapes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums, adding to the 12,550,000 boxes of Chilean fruit during the 2017-18 season.

“We are grateful to Wilmington for our longstanding trade relationship that has meant market and logistics stability for us as well as our customers. We are looking forward to another great Chilean season, together with the State of Delaware, the City of Wilmington, and GT USA Wilmington,” commented Harold Cohen, Global Reefers’ Port Captain/USA Representative.

The 6,000 ton shipment marks the largest volume to be shipped to the U.S. for the month of December. Trans Global Shipping NV in the Global Reefers service led the Star Best operations to the port.

“We are thrilled to support, in a meaningful way, the commercial interests of our partners and customers in providing the U.S. and Canadian consumer with the freshest available fruit for the new year,” said Eric Casey, CEO of GT USA Wilmington.

About Global Reefers

In October 2013, Seatrade, the world largest specialized refrigerated ship owner/operator as well as leader in specialized reefer logistics, and Pacific Seaways, Chile’s most important shipping group created and managed by fruit growers and exporters, joined forces to establish Global Reefers NV. Global Reefers was created to offer the industry the most efficient specialized reefer and container liner service from Chile to the world. Pacific Seaways and Seatrade have had business relationships spanning over 20 years. The new company, based in Valparaíso, Chile strengthens their common goal of ensuring “reliable, fast, direct and dedicated reefer shipping logistics towards the future.”

About GT USA

GT USA is the U.S. division of Gulftainer, the world’s largest privately-owned independent port operator and logistics company with operations and business interests in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Brazil and the United States. GT’s presence in North America expanded in 2018 with the signing of a 50-year concession agreement with the state of Delaware to manage and operate the Port of Wilmington, a deep-water port and marine terminal serving the Eastern Seaboard. The company’s first venture into the U.S. came in 2014 with the signing of a 35-year agreement to operate Canaveral Cargo Terminal, a multi-purpose cargo and container terminal in Florida.  For more information, visit www.gulftainer.com/US

Source: Port of Wilmington

Port Logistics and 2019 Trends

Port trends for 2019 are already taking shape as the industry continues to see increased joint ventures and tandem efforts for mutual visions combined with record-breaking growth rates for 2018 from ports such as the South Carolina Ports Authority – which saw an impressive 15 percent growth for November 2018. The real question is how are they doing it from a logistics perspective amid the tariffs and market unpredictability? President and CEO Jim Newsome spelled it out: use timeliness and resource options to the advantage of operations. What might work one month might prove as unsuccessful for the next. Keep options and eyes open for shifts and opportunities. Have a backup plan:.

“While the US economy remains strong, there is increasing evidence that US beneficial cargo owners advanced shipments from Asia in an effort to avoid tariffs,” but carefully noted that, “The first calendar quarter of 2019, however, is much more uncertain in terms of outlook and considering strong volumes achieved in the same period in 2018.”

Port automation and the integration of technology solutions are trends that took charge in 2018 that show no sign of slowing down in 2019. The Port of Rotterdam cites proactive measures through technology solutions and gauging industry changes as key factors to success. Business Consultant Vincent Campfens puts it into perspective in the article, “42km of Connected Complexity: Operating in the Digital Future.”

Vincent Campfens comments: “Being a smart port is much more than merely introducing awesome new technology into a port to make it safer, more efficient and more sustainable. It is also about looking further ahead in time, making strategic choices to ensure that the port still exists in the future, whilst responding to changes in climate, politics, technology, industries and cargo flows. One of our recent strategic choices is a targeted commitment to digital innovation,” (Rotterdam).

Muscat Anchor Marina Implements Efforts To Reduce Plastic Waste

Environmental efforts are increasing internationally as Al Mouj Muscat confirms the installation of the region’s first marina Seabin to minimize plastic waste at its 5 Gold Anchor Marina. The company, located in Muscat, released information last week spotlighting the initiative and the environmental impact. According to the press release,  it’s estimated the Seabin can capture up to 1.5 kgs of floating debris per day through a water intake from the surface and then passed through a catch bag within the Seabin. A submersible water pump is directly plugged into 110/220-volt outlet which then pumps the water back into the marina litter and debris-free. In addition to plastic waste, this product also skims surface oil through its custom oil pad technology.

“We initiated the Seabin project as part of our sustainability initiatives at Al Mouj  Marina and Al Mouj Muscat in general. It’s very important to note that this initiative aims to reduce rubbish that might exist in the waters of Oman and already floating in Al Mouj Marina and not a reason to throw waste randomly,” Al Mouj marina manager Khalil Abujaber said.

This effort is one of many recently seen to protect and improve environmental conditions. Al Mouj Muscat installed the Seabin to reduce waste as well as provide a cleaner, more enjoyable environment for residents and visitors in the region. Between the Seabin initiative, community beach and reef clean-ups and their awarded International Clean Marina Accreditation, Al Mouj Marina continues to make strides as a leader in the region.

“We are excited to have this product in place to reduce plastic waste and maintain the beauty and cleanliness of our Marina for residents and visitors to Al Mouj Muscat to enjoy,” Abujaber stated in the release.

National Geographic reports that there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in the world’s oceans. This number will continue to rise if additional green efforts aren’t considered and implemented within the U.S. and international ocean carriers and ports. For more information on the Seabin project, visit: www.seabinproject.com.