The Journal of Commerce has published a list of the “Nations with the Worst Infrastructure,” as determined by the World Economic Forum. Included are overall rankings, and separate categories for worst ports, roads, railroads and air transport. See if any countries in your supply chain are included!
Anticipating the mega-ships that will traverse the Panama Canal when its expansion project is complete, the Port of Baltimore has already spent millions on enormous cranes that can service those vessels. Moreover, Vice President Joe Biden just announced a federal grant of $10 million for “widening and straightening the shipping channels into the port.”
Other East Coast ports are following suit. The federal government is helping to expedite the developing and deepening the harbors for New York and New Jersey; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Miami. Eager to capture their share of mega-ship traffic, these ports are taking on debt to finance upgrades in advance of the canal project’s completion, set for 2015. Not to be outdone, West Coast ports, such as LA and Long Beach, are undertaking their own projects to gain market share.
Outside of deeper channels and bigger cranes, ports will have to consider other improvements in port infrastructure, such as on-dock rail service to quickly move containers, and labor — ensuring that there are enough longshoremen to unload the larger vessels, and sufficient harbor pilots (and tugs) to guide the ships.
Importers shipping to the New York – New Jersey port complex have been subject to extensive delays this summer, an immediate result of technical glitches with the terminal operator’s new operating platform. However, according to the Journal of Commerce, the software issues “set off a chain reaction that exposed the port’s vulnerabilities in labor, facilities and operating practices.”
As a result, ships were diverted to other ports, truckers encountered hours-long waits, and drayage companies accumulated significant losses. Meanwhile, retailers are worried about the upcoming peak season for holiday imports.
Plans are in place to reduce delays, including hiring more longshore workers and extending hours for truckers to access terminal gates (nearly 90% of the port’s traffic moves via truck).
The full article is available here.
As part of US Customs’ stepped-up enforcement of liquidated damages for ISF violations, officials at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport have announced new enhanced enforcement measures particular to that port complex.
Specifically, in light of “continued non-compliance with ISF requirements,”
[b]eginning July 15, 2013, CBP [at the LA/LB Seaport] will make use of newly activated cargo holds in [ACE] to address non-compliance with the ISF rule. CBP will hold non-compliant ISF shipments at the terminal until the required ISF is filed. Once the ISF data is received and a security assessment is made, additional enforcement actions including Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) and/or intrusive exams may be initiated. CBP may also assess liquidated damages of up to $5,000 per violations as warranted.
Importers may notice that this is a departure from CBP’s past practice for situations where no ISF was on file; in those cases, Customs would typically order a Non-Intrusive Exam (e.g., x-ray) and/or an Intrusive Exam (e.g., physical exam at a CES), and, in most instances, would then remove the hold and allow the shipment to proceed.
Now, the shipment will be held, and no action will be taken, until an ISF is filed. If an importer receives notice that its shipment is being held, a manifest query should be run in order to determine the reason for the hold, which could possibly be no record of an ISF filing.
For more information, including the new ACE cargo hold codes, please see the attached Public Bulletin on LA&LB ISF Enforcement Procedures.
US Customs has announced that it will launch the final three Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs) – Agriculture & Prepared Products in Miami, Apparel, Footwear & Textiles in San Francisco, and Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising in Atlanta.
As reported here previously, the now 10 CEEs are the result of a collaborative effort between CBP and the trade to create a virtual one-stop processing center for imports that fall within broad industry categories (although each category is based in a specific port, CBP experts for that category are linked virtually to that CEE even if they work remotely). As part of CBP’s Trade Transformation efforts, the CEEs lower the trade’s cost of business, provide greater consistency and predictability and enhance CBP enforcement efforts for transactions within each center.
Some additional points from Adrienne Braumiller, Esq., of Braumiller Schulz, LLP, from her recent post, “Centers of excellence and expertise: a boon for importers”:
- In a recent survey of the trade community,
- 75% of participants indicated that they were very satisfied with their membership in a center
- 96% percent indicated that their center helped them resolve issues they had with CBP
- 50+% percent said they benefited from fast shipment delay resolutions, direct contact with CBP, and more clarity on CBP requirements.
- Many non-CEE participants have used centers to answer questions ranging in subject from C-TPAT procedure to CF-28s and cargo holds and these non-participants seemed to be satisfied with the center’s assistance.
- CEEs plans to transfer all port-of entry responsibilities to the CEEs, including revenue collection, a gap now that requires participating importers to file their entries with their designated CEE but provide a copy with a check for duties owed to the actual port of entry
If you are importing cargo contained in regulated wood packaging materials (or importing the wood itself as cargo), you are reminded that the wood packaging must be heat treated in accordance with ISPM standards, and
“…must be marked in a visible location on each article, preferably on at least two opposite sides of the article, with a legible and permanent mark that indicates that the article meets the [heat treatment standards].” 7 CFR §319.40-3(b)(2) (emphasis added).
At some ports, US Customs officials have been broadly interpreting this regulatory minimum to require the ISPM mark on all sides of the crate, presumably so that the inspecting CBP officers do not have to move heavy crates in order to find the required markings. If the inspecting officer cannot safely view the heat treatment mark (depending on the particular orientation of the crate at the point of unloading), the importer runs the risk of having to re-crate the cargo at the port using suitable materials (and destroying the original wood), or possibly returning the shipment to its origin.
The Journal of Commerce has published its annual list of the top 50 container ports in the world. Not surprisingly, eight of the top ten ports are located in Asia. In fact, six of the top ten are in China, with Shanghai ranked as number 1.
Los Angeles was the top US port at 16th, overtaking Long Beach (ranked 21st); the combined LA/LB port complex would rank 8th on the global list.
The BBC reports that striking dockworkers at the Port of Hong Kong — the world’s third busiest — have agreed to end their work stoppage. The workers, on strike since March 28, will accept a pay raise of about 10%, significantly less than the 23% increase they sought.
During the strike, the affected terminal ran at less than 90% capacity, forcing shippers to divert cargo to ports on mainland China.
As a strike by dockworkers that has battered operations at the Port of Hong Kong enters its fourth week, the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council has devised a back-up plan to continue to move goods.
According to Carbon Positive, the Council has negotiated with the Port of Guangdong on mainland China to divert Hong Kong cargo there, as well as receive expedited clearance of diverted cargo by Guangdong customs officials. The Council has been working in tandem with the Federation of Hong Kong Industries for an alternative course of action to avoid even more shipping delays in advance of next month’s peak season.
The Port of Hong Kong is one of the world’s busiest.
Last week, officials at the Port of Long Beach kicked off the Green Port Gateway project, an $84 million undertaking to “remove a railroad bottleneck and build additional on-dock capacity.” The project involves realigning a rail route, adding a railyard and constructing a third rail line.
The Green Port Gateway construction is to align with the port’s Middle Harbor Terminal project, already underway, which will add capacity for the nation’s second busiest port to handle 3 million cargo containers.