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RTM LINES PROVIDES INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO AFRICA’S COMPLEX CARGO CHALLENGES

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RTM LINES PROVIDES INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO AFRICA’S COMPLEX CARGO CHALLENGES

Headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, and boasting 38 years of trans-ocean transportation, RTM Lines continues its position as a major player among global ocean carriers. RTM Lines’ initial focus was rolling stock. Over the years the carrier added competence in breakbulk, FCL and project cargo management. Comprehensive global knowledge as well as in-depth understanding of local customs and regulations allow RTM Lines to provide innovative solutions to the complex cargo challenges facing Africa and the world today.

“We are niche players and have been doing this for many years,” says RTM’s Vice President Richard Tiebel, adding, “We know who the suppliers are, what their requirements are, how their operations work, and they know what RTM can do. They appreciate our thorough understanding of the business. Our in-house responsiveness and assistance with planning and preparation on difficult loads are what sets us apart.”

“At RTM, customers and suppliers will always be able to speak with a representative who has a working knowledge of their shipments from end to end. Our clients appreciate this and keep coming back to us with their projects and shipments year after year. I love what we do, it is an exciting industry, every shipment is unique, and ocean transport is essential to global trade.”

More recently, RTM has invested efforts in learning about untapped global opportunities, specifically within African infrastructure and breakbulk. Among the continents, Africa presents resources and opportunities in regions such as Ethiopia, Northern Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, these same regions don’t come without unique challenges to navigate. As RTM’s vice president, Tiebel understands that before tapping into this market as he knows one must first understand both its potential and roadblocks that are found within the political and economic environments.

“Right now, the DRC is sitting on some of the world’s largest natural cobalt resource, but because of political turmoil, it makes it that much harder to get this cobalt,” Tiebel observes. “Africa has a reputation of political/government instability, so if a project was approved by one political party, throughout the life of a project it could experience some instability or complete regime changes. Certainly, this will be a big risk because if a government changes overnight, this market could change overnight. You may have a license for an exploration of a resource, and then the next government could have a different plan.”

Furthermore, Tiebel shared the importance of local knowledge as a driver behind success in international markets, such as Africa. Reiterating the company’s core value of local expertise, RTM places an emphasis on all players involved in the shipping and trading process.

“Africa is showing the exponential growth of any other continent,” Tiebel says. “Right now, markets like Ethiopia have shown eight percent GDP growth, per annum. Taking a deep dive and analyzing what is driving this growth there are a number of things within urbanization, ICT (telecommunications) and the extractives industry (oil, gas and mining).”

Diving even deeper into the region’s shifts and opportunities, Tiebel highlights key areas that need attention and research for successful utilization and navigation.

“In the next four to five years, city populations will double. This places a lot of pressure for infrastructure and the need to develop. Right now, most cities weren’t built for these amounts of people. That in of itself is an amazing opportunity, because it places a need on power, water and sanitation, housing developments, and around that the buildup of industries for support to serve these populations.”

He continues: “Most governments couldn’t support fixed-line infrastructures, but now Africa is going through an ICT revolution. Now the private sector is supporting this revolution and its allowing Africans to conduct business in a normal way, using technology. Companies like Microsoft have been investing in some African tech sectors, to develop talent and to take Africa forward.”

“Additionally, Africa has a lot of stranded resources in the middle of nowhere, no infrastructure whatsoever. The gas in Northern Mozambique is the world’s 12th largest natural gas resource. A lot of infrastructure will need to be built in order to get this gas, because the town itself is very small and barely has roads to 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.”

As African regions maintain a position of opportunity, industry players must continue to provide regular service at a good price by MPV conveyance while anticipating shifts, according to Tiebel. As IMO 2020 draws closer, he shared his perspective on how Africa’s natural resources could potentially offset some of the unidentified challenges to come.

“The cost of the IMO’s regulatory change on the shipping industry in unknown, but every analyst expects it to be large. As well as shipping lines, the IMO’s decision will also impact refiners, crude producers, bunker suppliers and emissions and air quality affecting the health of millions of people. With Africa sitting on many different natural resources and this new emergence of investment to extract these resources, hopefully these resources in Africa will help with the industry with the spike in fuel costs, in 2020.”

Bringing the conversation back to the core of the RTM difference, Tiebel positions the local community and its needs as a priority before changes can take place in unpredictable and shifting markets. This further confirms the company’s continued success and robust, satisfied customer base. RTM Lines is a prime example of what it takes to conduct global operations while catering to a variety of customer needs. Instead of limiting customers, RTM provides its customers timely options.

“The issue with Africa is it’s a place with a lot of internal issues that need to be dealt with,” Tiebel concludes. “To get things done, one must have local knowledge and knowing the local people to get things moving. Without local knowledge and understanding what people need, you won’t be able to move on.”

Quebec Stevedoring to Manage Port of Ogdensburg, NY

Ogdensburg, NY – The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) has unanimously approved an agreement to grant the management of its New York port terminal to NASCO (NY), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebec Stevedoring (QSL).

The northernmost port in the State of New York and one of the closest US ports to Europe, the Port of Ogdensburg is the only US port on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The new partnership “enhances the positioning of Quebec Stevedoring in the North American cargo handling industry and is perfectly aligned with its long term growth objectives,” the OBPA said.

“We partner with the best. We build solid relations with other passionate industry players. The partnership with Ogdensburg is a perfect example of this dynamic and we foresee good prospects for both parties in the years to come,” said Bruce Graham, Great Lakes Stevedoring vice-president.

Quebec Stevedoring handles over 20 million tons of general and dry bulk cargo through its network of 29 port facilities annually.

Its terminal facilities are strategically sited along the St. Lawrence Seaway up to the Great Lakes and are located in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Chicago, and now Ogdensburg.

Every year, the company’s facilities accommodate more than 1,000 inbound or outbound vessels from all corners of the world.

10/16/2014

Ports Face ‘Big Ships, Big Challenges’: White Paper

Long Beach, CA – The deployment of the latest generation of mega-containerships “presents physical, financial and operational challenges that must be met by port authorities across the country” according to the Port of Long Beach’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Noel Hacegaba.

Even for ports that will not see the mega vessels call at their ports any time soon, the arrival of the larger ships is creating a cascading effect in which the ships being replaced by mega vessels are being deployed in the smaller trade lanes,” says Hacegaba in a new white paper, “Big Ships, Big Challenges.”

The average size of container ships, he says, has grown considerably in recent years and the trend is likely to continue for years to come.

“Although 18,000 TEU [20-foot equivalent unit] vessels are the largest in service currently, ships that carry more than 10,000 TEUs are still considered large and have limited options with regards to trade lanes and to ports that can accommodate them,” he writes.

Hacegaba said the industry is turning to the larger ships because they reduce operating costs for shipping operators, and they help meet regulatory requirements to decrease in potentially harmful emissions.

According to the white paper, ports around the country are spending $46 billion in capital improvements, including $4.5 billion invested at the Port of Long Beach. Shipping companies “are ordering larger ships to meet demand, while cutting the operational costs they would otherwise incur by sending cargo on multiple trips.”

As a result, ports of all sizes “are struggling to ready themselves to handle the larger vessels.”

Hacegaba states that regardless of a port’s size, they face a demand to handle a larger class of vessels. In the coming years it is projected that smaller vessels will be put out of services to make way for larger ones. But the largest ships will go to the biggest ports, while today’s larger ships will switch to smaller ports.

For the vessel operators, “the major investments in larger ships is straining their resources. So ocean carrier alliances and consolidations are also being forged as a result,” he says.

While this is not new to the maritime industry, Hacegaba points out that they are “providing financial uncertainty for port authorities.”

The newly aligned or consolidated vessel operators may move to different ports, while a smaller port may spend millions on fixing its infrastructure, and then lose a major tenant. In addition, smaller ports that don’t upgrade infrastructure because of their struggle for funding may face losing business as small-sized fleets are phased out.

The maritime industry “is ever evolving as technologies improve,” he concludes, with port authorities “playing a primary role” in educating both the industry and the public in potential changes.

“Ports must be built to handle larger ships and be prepared when shipping alliances do not go in their favor. As the maritime industry and how goods are moved change, so must ports if they are to be ready to handle the next generation of larger ships.”

0919/2014

Egyptian Government Plans New, Improved Suez Canal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

08/12/2014

Update: West Coast Longshore Talks Continue

Los Angeles – The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have resumed contract negotiations.

Both groups took a four-day break in the talks as ILWU representatives attended unrelated contract negotiations with grain handlers in the Pacific Northwest.

According to a joint statement, the talks, so far have been “productive” with both the PMA and the ILWU pledging to “keep cargo moving through US West Coast ports during the negotiations.”

The six-year contract between dockworkers and the employers who operate port terminal and shipping lines expired on July 1. It covers workers at 29 ports from San Diego, California to Bellingham, Washington.

In the weeks preceding the expiration of the original contract, businesses across the country, and overseas, were concerned about the possibility of a work stoppage that could have paralyzed the movement of cargo through US West Coast ports including the major container load centers in Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, and Seattle/Tacoma.

In 2002, a breakdown in labor negotiations resulted in a 10-day lockout at the 29 ports that was estimated to have cost the US economy $1 billion a day with the supply chains of some companies seriously ‘kinked’ for up to six months afterwards.

At the time, a week before the July 1 expiration date, Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation (NRF), said, “Folks are nervous about what’s going to happen once the contract expires.”

The concern was underscored by the fact that, during the months of July through September, retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp receive ocean shipments of goods sold during their critical back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons, he said.

Past experience shows that labor negotiations at West Coast ports typically extend beyond the contract expiration date with the current round of talks possibly extending into September, according to some sources.

08/04/2014

Secrecy of ILWU, PMA Contract Talks Blasted

Los Angeles, CA – The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) should “part the curtain of secrecy surrounding their contract negotiations,” according to Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Toebben.

The deadline for reaching agreement on a new labor contract governing America’s 29 West Coast ports passed at 5 p.m. PST this afternoon “and the scant amount of insight or information on the future status of a new contract worries many,” he said.

Toebben made his comments in an editorial for the Los Angeles Daily News published on the paper’s website  just a few hours before the contract deadline expired.

The last public statement on the progress of the talks was made on June 4 when the negotiations were described as “positive” by the leadership of both the PMA and the ILWU.

“About 12.5 percent of the US GDP currently flows through the ports, and 9.2 million jobs across America — including 3.7 million in California alone — depend on the efficient flow of goods on and off the docks,” he wrote.

“Industries spanning agriculture to manufacturing, from autos to electronics, and across all sectors of retail are currently scampering to implement contingency plans given that neither a new contract nor a contract extension has been announced, he said.”

Both the PMA, which represents the terminal operators and shipping companies, and the ILWU, which represents the 20,000 dock workers at the ports in California, Oregon and Washington, he said “are staying tight-lipped about the talks that have been ongoing for two months.”

It has been widely reported, Toebben added, “that rising health care costs are a major sticking point, given that the longshoremen, retirees and their families enjoy one of the most envied health care plans available in America today, with unlimited coverage at little or no cost.”

Also, he said, “it’s also understood that West Coast ports have been leaking market share for the past decade or more, as competing ports on America’s East and Gulf coasts have been lowering costs, improving performance and building infrastructure to attract greater shipping volumes. Global manufacturing patterns too are shifting, putting more origination points closer to East and Gulf coast destinations.”

Decrying the loss of cargo marketshare, Toebben said, “Suddenly, the West Coast is not the monopoly it used to be — and current lack of an agreement or extension only hastens shippers’ efforts to further diversify their transportation networks. In Southern California, the information ‘blackout’ by PMA and ILWU only fuels the worries of employees, families, politicians, communities and businesses small and large, who together wonder if we’ll see a repeat of 2002’s billion-dollar-per-day coast-wide shut down.”

Information, he charges, “is limited, but the questions aren’t – how close are the parties to reaching a new contract?; what issues have already been fully resolved, and which still remain?; will an extension be formalized to assuage concerns while talks continue?; will the union engage in work slowdowns if an extension can’t be signed?; and, can the ports continue to operate efficiently, with everyday issues and grievances resolved amicably, without an extension?

“Given the critical importance of the ports in today’s local and regional economies, and for the sake of the millions of people who depend on the uninterrupted flow of goods in and out of America,” Toebben concluded. “Such transparency is essential, especially given what is at stake now — and for years to come.”

07/01/2014

 

Deadline Nears for West Coast Dock Contract

San Francisco, CA – Negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) continue as the clock ticks down to midnight, June 30 – the deadline when the current contract between West Coast dock workers and ocean terminal operators expires.

The month-long negotiations cover a contract that would frame the work of more than 14,000 dock workers at 79 ocean terminals at 29 US West Coast load centers, including the major container ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma.

If no contract has been agreed to by the July 1 deadline, both the PMA, which represents the terminal operators, and the ILWU could agree to extend the existing agreement into July, but there is no guarantee as past contract negotiations between the two groups have historically been contentious.

In 2002, negotiations got so ugly that President George W. Bush had to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to end an 11-day shutdown of US West Coast ports, citing the port’s’ operations as ”vital to our economy and to our military.”

A study by the University of California at Berkeley that year estimated that total cost of shutting down the West Coast ports was about $2 billion a day in lost business and tax revenue from sales and wages. The strike also created a backlog of cargo that took weeks to alleviate.

The 2002 shutdown forced ocean carriers to divert cargo to ports in British Columbia and along the US Gulf and East Coasts, and compel manufacturers, importers and exporters across the country to re-configure critical supply chain and production schedules.

Traditionally the ILWU-PMA contract covers three years. But after the 2002 lockout, a six-year contract was instituted as a way of ensuring labor stability for a longer time.

The six-year duration was renewed again in 2008 as the economy was struggling and stability was again a priority. In the current negotiations, the three-year term is again back on the table.

Industry Concerns Deepen

A number of national, private-sector industry groups have communicated their growing concern that the negotiations come to a successful conclusion prior to the contract’s expiration date.

The West Coast ports are critical not only to our members, but to any business, manufacturer, farmer or anyone that relies on imports and exports for their business,” stated Jon Gold, who oversees transportation issues for the giant National Retail Federation.

Bruce Carlton, president of the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), said during a recent press conference that  unhindered operations at US West Coast ports are “a big deal for everybody. So much of what we buy and sell in this country moves through those ports.”

The Agriculture Transportation Coalition in Washington, DC, released an “open letter” to ILWU President Robert McEllrath, and James McKenna, PMA president & CEO.

“There is nothing that we produce in agriculture and forest products in the United States, that cannot be sourced somewhere else in the world,” the letter stated. “If we cannot deliver dependably and affordably, our foreign customers will simply shift their sourcing to other countries.”

06/19/2014

FLASH: China Turns Thumbs Down on P3 Alliance

Los Angeles, CA – China has denied approval of the proposed P3 shipping alliance that would have combined the operations of Denmark’s Maersk Line, MSC of Switzerland and France-based CMA CGM into the largest ocean carrier consortium in the world.

The surprise move was announced this morning by China’s Ministry of Commerce, which released a statement saying that it had decided to prohibit the alliance after conducting “an anti-trust assessment.”

Had it been given the go-ahead, the Ministry said, the alliance would “have a far-reaching impact on the global shipping industry and cause a high level of concern in all sectors.”

It added that the alliance would increase the parties’ “combined capacity in container shipping on Asia-Europe routes” and give them a “substantial increase in market concentration.”

Regulatory agencies in both the US and the European Union green-lighted the proposed P3 earlier this year after stating that they wouldn’t pursue any antitrust issues regarding the deal.

The largest of the three carriers, Maersk, responded to the decision in a joint statement saying that “the partners have agreed to stop the preparatory work on the P3 Network… the P3 Network as initially planned will not come into existence.”

The consortium would have created a combined fleet of 250 ships operating on a global front that would handle an estimated 43 percent of Asia-to-Europe container shipping, 41 percent of the trans-Atlantic box trade, and almost a full quarter of the container volume in the transpacific market.

The alliance had aimed at allowing the three giant carriers to cut billions in annual costs by sharing ocean terminals, space on each others vessels, and exploiting each container carrier’s geographic strengths to move cargo faster and more economically.

06/17/2014

One Hurdle Left for the Giant P3 Shipping Alliance

Los Angeles, CA – Creation of the giant P3 shipping alliance now rests with Chinese regulators, who, analysts say, are on the verge of sanctioning what would be the most powerful ocean carrier consortium in the world.

Approval by Beijing is the final hurdle standing in the way of the proposed P3 to begin operations as early as this fall.

The P3 would be made up of the three largest container carriers in the world – Denmark’s Maersk Line, MSC of Switzerland and France-based CMA CGM.

The three-line consortium would create a combined fleet of 250 ships operating on a global front that would handle an estimated 43 percent of Asia-to-Europe container shipping, 41 percent of the trans-Atlantic box trade, and almost a full quarter of the container volume in the transpacific market.

The alliance will allow the three giant carriers to cut billions in annual costs by sharing ocean terminals, space on each other’s vessels, and exploiting each container carrier’s geographic strengths to move cargo faster and more economically.

Regulatory agencies in both the US and the European Union have given their approval to the proposed alliance after stating that they wouldn’t pursue any antitrust issues regarding the deal.

The Chinese are expected to announce their approval of the alliance by the end of this month.

06/13/2014