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Market pool for truck chassis in the works for Port of NY/NJ

Friday, September 26th, 2014
© Port Authority of NY & NJ

© Port Authority of NY & NJ

 

In follow up to last week’s post on addressing truck congestion at US ports, commentary in the print edition of American Shipper (September 2014) reveals that there is progress on this front on the East Coast.

In his piece entitled “Answer to New York/New Jersey’s chassis blues?”, Chris Dupin reports that a working group of the Port Authority of NY/NJ’s Port Productivity Task Force is attempting to implement the task force’s recommendations that the industry create a ‘market pool’ for chassis:

“The market pool would be a port-wide pool with interoperability, meaning chassis could be used to move boxes that come from any of the terminals of liner carriers in the port.  The pool would not set prices, nor collaborate about anything that has to do with commercial relationships with customers.  Members of the pool would still compete with each other, but the task force thought a market pool could help solve some of the problems the port experienced with a lack of equipment and imbalance last year.”

Issues such as who will run the market pool are still in discussion.

 

 

Forum: reducing truck congestion at US ports

Friday, September 19th, 2014

traffic

Truck congestion — and the resulting frustration, delays and expense — unfortunately is on the rise at major US ports.  This week, as reported in California Apparel News, the Federal Maritime Commission hosted a forum with importers, truckers, brokers, freight forwarders, 3PLs and government officials at the Port of Los Angeles to discuss the root causes of this congestion and offer suggestions for improvement.

Identified causes:

  • Increased capacity of cargo ships — up to nearly triple — and resultant unlading time
  • Growth of global trade and container volume
  • Shortage of chassis at ports

Potential solutions:

  • Impose penalty fees on terminals that violate 90-minute turn times for cargo pick-up
  • Using an online appointment system for truckers to schedule pick-ups
  • Establishing a gray chassis fleet at ports for general use
  • Creating a “free-flow” system when unlading, facilitating access by truckers to specific, requested containers

The full article can be found here.

 

 

 

Key CBP leaders announced

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

US Customs and Border Protection logoFrom last week’s CBP press release:

In an important next step in advancing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trade Transformation efforts, [CBP] Commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske announced selections for two key trade positions within CBP – Ms. Brenda Smith for the Senior Executive Service position of Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, and Mr. Richard F. DiNucci for Executive Director of Cargo Conveyance and Security, Office of Field Operations.

Benchmark study: more importers are self-filing

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

american shipper 2American Shipper’s sixth annual Import Operations and Compliance Benchmarking Study has found an increase in the number of shippers who self-file customs entries:

  • The number of “systems-based” respondents (companies that use at least one application to facilitate their import functions) that outsource their customs filings decreased from 72% to 53% since last year
  • 24% of systems-based respondents self-file (direct file) customs entries, up 10% from last year
  • 23% of systems-based respondents use a combination of direct filing and outsourcing customs filings, also up 10% from 2013
  • Even “manual’ respondents (companies that use other technologies outside of import functions) are direct filing

The benchmarking study is available here (registration required).

 

O Canada, what have you done to our back-up plan?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

 

US importers fearing a West Coast port strike have seen their contingency plans start to unravel.

According to the Journal of Commerce, although contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association continue, some importers have attempted to divert cargo to Canadian ports to avoid delays during peak season in case of labor disruptions.  Unfortunately, the Port of Vancouver has become overwhelmed by the increased volume, and in response, large carriers such as Hapag-Lloyd have announced that the cargo will now be discharged in US West Coast ports after all.

The full JOC article can be found here (site registration required).

 

Peak season trucking rate hikes predicted

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

truckAs the trade heads into peak season, the nation’s trucking industry is experiencing a critical shortage of over-the-road drivers, and shippers may be paying for it.  According to an article in the Journal of Commerce, the scarcity of drivers is so acute that Swift Transportation, the largest US truckload carrier, announced that it will dramatically increase driver salaries — and competitors are expected to follow suit.  Shipping rates are predicted to rise accordingly, by as much as 4-5% as estimated by Swift.

According to Mike Regan, who serves as advocacy chair for the shipper group NASSTRAC, “‘[t]here’s no question, rates are going to rise…. The challenge for trucking companies is creating a compensation structure that allows them to retain drivers drivers but still get the rates they need from shippers to basically justify higher wages.’”

Increase containerized import volume at US ports — driving up demand for truck transport — is also a factor in the predicted rate increase.

The full Journal of Commerce article is available here (site registration required).

 

 

West Coast cargo will “keep moving”

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Although their  labor contract expired yesterday, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union has agreed to continue negotiating with the Pacific Maritime Association, averting a West Coast port strike for the time being.  See the parties’ joint press release for more information.

Nevertheless, in case there is a trade disruption, CBP is prepared with a contingency plan covering the following scenarios:

  • Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port and Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port and Not Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted to Another West Coast Port and Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted to Another West Coast Port and Not Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted from Intended West Coast Port to Gulf or East Coast for Discharge
  • Vessel Rests at Anchor and Not Diverted

See CSMS 14-000393 for details.

 

 

“Horrible” conditions at NY/NJ seaport

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

trafficContainer terminals at the New York – New Jersey seaport complex are suffering the wrath of drayage company owners who claim conditions are “horrible” and “broken” and adversely affecting their businesses.  One of the major underlying causes appears to be the terminals’ limited truck gate hours, causing mile-long truck backups at the gates.  Additional factors include slow turn times due to ILA labor shortages and severe winter weather.

Although a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey task force promises to issue a report in June recommending improvements, it may be too late for the transport companies, whose customers are threatening to divert shipment to other East Coast ports.  See the full story in the Journal of Commerce (site registration required).

Tax law changes hit maquiladora industry

Friday, January 24th, 2014

mexico-flagOn January 1, 2014, a series of tax reform measures took effect in Mexico that have widespread impact on the country’s maquiladora operations along the US border, which account for 85% of Mexico’s manufacturing exports.

As reported in CGMA Magazine, among the changes are:

  • Tightening the definition what constitutes a “maquiladora”
  • Eliminating the maquiladoras’ exemption from VAT on imported materials and replacing it with a tax credit
  • Increasing the VAT in Mexico’s border states from 11% to 16%, in line with the rest of the country

After outcry from the maquiladora industry, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a decree that addressed some of these concerns, including:

  • Imposing a two-year period that permits foreign owners to meet the criteria of the new definition of “maquiladora”
  • Allowing maquiladoras to claim the VAT credit in the month the VAT is paid (rather than the following month)

However,  in his decree, Peña Nieto also abolished income tax exemptions for maquiladoras, so their tax rate will increase from 17.5% to the standard 30% Mexican tax rate.

 

 

More details on federal shutdown’s impact on CBP

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 1.29.19 PMSo how does the current federal government shutdown specifically impact US Customs’ operations?  It’s difficult to expect complete and timely information from CBP since — naturally — that agency’s communications are hampered by the shutdown, although CBP was able to report yesterday, via CSMS, that all Client Representatives offices would be closed.

Luckily, Global Trade Academy has posted a fairly comprehensive list of what CBP functions/offices continue to remain open for business despite the shutdown, such as the CEEs, revenue collection, and FDA and APHIS.  The full listing was obtained from the CEO of AAEI.

Since only about 10% of US Customs’ employees will be furloughed during the shutdown, the impact is not as severe as in other federal departments.

It is too early to speculate whether the shutdown will affect CBP’s East Coast Trade Symposium, slated for October 24 and 25.