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Aperture & Focus August 12th

Aperture & Focus: August 12, 2022

Global Aperture

The world is long-overdue for some good news.

The United Nations expects a big uptick in Ukraine grain exports through the Black Sea after four more vessels were cleared to load 370,000 metric tonnes at the ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk, and YuzhnyNew consumer and manufacturing data suggests that inflation may gradually subside from the leading global economies of China and the US. But analysts say that transport markets are is still rife with volatilitytransit dangers, and the specter of fuel shortages that haunts crucial hubs across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas.

As part of efforts to implement provisions in the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, on August 11 the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has issued a request for public comment on a potential emergency order that would compel cargo-related data transparency among carriers and marine terminal operators—the submission window is open for 30 days.

Regional Focus

Americas

The US White House Port Envoy of the Supply Chain Task Force insists on round-the-clock operations for the entire logistics industry, to the chagrin of federally appointed mediators investigating the labor dispute between rail carriers and a coalition of 12 unions, who have until August 17 to broker a contract resolution. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) approves infrastructure grants totaling over $119 million for Los Angeles port upgrades as contract talks continue without update. The federal agency also introduces the pilot data-sharing program Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) to ease port bottlenecks, but industry analysts project that an import slowdown in the second half-year is more likely to reduce cargo congestion.

US Federal Maritime Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel delivers scathing criticism of empty containers, growing congestion, and lack of accountability after a recent visit to the Ports of New York & New Jersey by FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei. Market intelligence reports also named Houston and Savannah as some of the major ports beset with diverted Asia imports.

The Mexican Port of Lázaro Cárdenas receives the first vessel of a new weekly transpacific service jointly operated by Yang Ming, Wan Hai, and PIL, boosting Asia-Latin America trade.

 

Asia-Pacific

A global factory survey released last week showed demand for Chinese goods weakened in July, with orders and output indices falling to their lowest since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. But higher-than-expected levels of exports through July may sustain shipper optimism—and consequently market conditions—into the fall and winter.

Hong Kong officials reduce mandatory hotel quarantines for international travelers to three days, but “lingering bottlenecks” stifle market recovery, including recent lockdowns enacted in China, including export and manufacturing hub Yiwu—based in the Zhejiang province—as well as Urumqi, Tibet, and Hainan. The August 10 onset of tropical storm Mulan in Guangdong also resulted in suspension of rail, feeder vessel, and customs clearance services. Inland Container Depots (ICDs) are the latest in Bangladesh to hike handling service charges in response to a state-imposed fuel price increase on August 5—inland waterway and ground transportation providers have also made similar adjustments.

 

Europe, Middle East & Africa

Europe’s ongoing heatwave has significantly reduced the water levels of Europe’s Danube and Rhine rivers, the latter of which is poised to fall below a critical point for vessel movement at the Kaub waypoint, cutting off a key route for energy imports. With many ships operating below capacity and state-imposed draught limitations, some carriers have levied surcharges for the additional efforts. As shipper demand swings toward the air market, Lufthansa Cargo plans for gradual long-haul service expansions starting October 30, with frequent flights to Mexico City, Chicago, Hanoi, Bombay, and Incheon.

In the UK, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service reports an imminent strike at Felixstowe Port after mediated negotiations reached an impasse on August 8. The planned eight-day strike begins August 21; in the meantime, more rail strikes are planned for August 13, 18, and 20 across the UK.

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