Don’t Forget the Chassis in the Chase for the Cure.

A new level of frustration has arisen from the ocean shipper ranks during this “post-COVID” period. Shipments from Asia to the U.S. are experiencing extreme difficulties in getting their cargo delivered, mainly due to the acute shortage of chassis to effect delivery of their containers on the U.S. side. The painful example of this is the BNSF current experience with Lot W. Aside from the impact to the importer in not being able to access its cargo and experiencing serious damage to its business, it is also likely to face serious demurrage charges from the ocean carrier. This is on top of having just experienced a quadrupling (or more) of the base FAK per container rates, and the ocean carrier choices to leave agricultural commodities sitting at West Coast U.S. ports, favoring the shipment of empty containers opting to position equipment for the lucrative Asia to U.S. trade.


Continue Reading The Dynamic of the Chassis Quandary Today in Ocean Shipping in the United States

The below e-mail recently received by the author paints the picture we are seeing a thousand fold in the current ocean shipping marketplace in the inbound/outbound Asia trade lanes which
Continue Reading The Disappearance of the Service Contract in Ocean Shipping and Resurgence of Ocean Tramp Practices

According to media reports, a massive 400-meter container ship operated by Evergreen Marine Corp. in Taiwan, the Ever Given, became stuck in the Suez Canal after apparently running aground due to high winds from a sandstorm. As a result, potentially hundreds of ships cannot pass on either side of the Suez Canal
Continue Reading Suez Canal Blockage Could Worsen Port Congestion and Impact Usage of Panama Canal

The major thrust of this post is to underscore certain micro trends which have emerged in the ocean transport industry in the recent past, which are not expected to transcend into macro territory, but will be present for a good while, and need attention since they can result in substantial damages/losses to importers and exporters. Focusing on these can result in big dollar savings in the short and long run. These micro trends have surfaced as a result of a combination of events and developments such as unpredictable turns in the import trades from China/Asia to the United States; the export levels and trends of agricultural commodities from the U.S. to China; the prevalence of equipment unavailability to the shipping industry (both containers and chassis, and now, sometimes vessels).

Continue Reading Micro Trends for 2021: Ocean Shipping Contracting Responses

On April 28, 2020, the Federal Maritime Commission (“Commission “or “FMC”) released the long-awaited interpretive rules in Docket No. 19-05 relating to how ocean common carriers may lawfully apply demurrage
Continue Reading New FMC Interpretative Demurrage and Detention Rules: Will They Assist Ocean Transportation Intermediaries?

What might not be so obvious in this COVID-19 environment, which we have grown to associate with shortages, is that counterintuitively there are issues beginning to appear dealing with the opposite situation. The Journal of Commerce has reported that “[t]he container shipping industry is marshaling a response to signs of a building import backlog as some retailers and manufacturers fail to pick up containers because warehouses are full or closed due to not being deemed essential service providers responding to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” This is a development with implications to all stakeholders in the supply chain and will have some impact on retailers/manufacturers, ocean carriers, ocean transportation intermediaries, and warehouses.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Impacts on Demurrage and Detention

In the last year or so, it has become clearly evident to us that ocean carriers are treating European and other forwarders differently than how they deal with U.S. forwarders, creating a distinctly competitive disadvantage for U.S. ocean forwarders, NVOCCs and Customs brokers. The bottom line activity is that ocean carriers are creating beneficial sell rates to “forwarders”, usually in ocean carriers’ tariffs, for use exclusively by European forwarders located in certain locations in Europe and elsewhere (not the U.S.). We are using the term “forwarders” here in the U.S. sense. But for our narrative here, the European forwarder, located in Europe and other locations[1], will dispatch cargo from Europe based on lump sum rates formulated from the sell rates offered to them by the ocean carriers, but will not hold out as NVOCCs, nor issue house bills of lading. Many of these forwarders are neither licensed nor registered with the FMC as NVOCCs. In fact, U.S. forwarders under the current definition of “forwarders” could similarly issue lump sum rates under the current FMC regulations for export transport from the U.S. Unfortunately, the ocean carriers, probably sensitive to U.S. regulatory structures do not provide U.S. forwarders similarly competitive rate structures for exports from the U.S. or for inbound traffic controlled by U.S. consignees. But also, more egregiously, if a U.S. forwarder, who also may be an NVOCC/Customs broker, controls import cargo to be shipped to the U.S. on a “collect” basis, the U.S. Ocean Transportation Intermediary (“OTI”) may have to “purchase” a favorable rate from the unlicensed, unregistered forwarder in Europe who does have the benefit of the competitive rate, even though it may not be a licensed or registered NVOCC.  The question: Is this legal? After discussing this with FMC officials, the answer is, “Probably.”
Continue Reading Ocean Transportation Intermediaries’ U.S. Regulatory Scheme: European Ocean Freight Forwarders and Freight Pricing

Court of International Trade

Summary of Decisions

19-66

On June 3, 2019, in the ongoing case of determining whether or not Plaintiff Midwest Fastener’s zinc and nylon anchor products are considered to be nails, the CIT sustained the Department of Commerce’s final results of the redetermination pursuant to the Court Remand. The CIT concluded that Plaintiff’s zinc and nylon anchors do not function like nails and are considered a separate type of product from nails by the relevant industry. Commerce’s remand results were sustained and Plaintiff Midwest Fastener’s products were excluded from the scope.

19-69

On June 6, the CIT denied Plaintiffs Confederacion de Asociaciones Agricolas del Estado de Sinaloa, Consejo Agricola de Baja California, Asociacion Mexicana de Horticultura Protegida, Asociacion de Productores de Hortalizas del Yaqui y Mayo, and Sistem Producto Tomate (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and preliminary injunction (“PI”) in the antidumping duty investigation of tomatoes from Mexico. The Court determined that the Plaintiffs had not met their burden to establish the likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm absent injunctive relief. They also had failed to establish if the hardships tip in favor of denying the Plaintiff’s motion. The Court also found the public interest to be neutral. For those reasons the CIT denied the plaintiff’s motions.
Continue Reading June Trade Law Update: Court Decisions

According to the American Trucking Association, there is a current shortage of about 51,000 drivers which is impacting U.S. retailers, and it is predicted to get worse in the coming years. The driver shortage is leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices. Also coupled with driver shortages are equipment shortages, including in the maritime container/chassis environment. Many, if not most, retailers are subject to seasonal cycles where timely delivery is key to a “make it or break it” year. Other retailers, such as e-commerce retailers and other lesser known industry groups (the animal feed industry, for example) do not have seasonal peaks, but a substantial percentage of these industry segments have same day or next day delivery requirements essentially on an on-going basis. The retailer industry, including e-retailers, are looking to different solutions for addressing these real bottom-line issues—i.e., getting all kinds of goods to customers in a timely manner.
Continue Reading Retailers: Thinking Outside the Box to Address Driver and Equipment Shortages