Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for February 11 - February 15, 2013:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Top Story

Report: February retail imports to rise 8.5 percent now that labor deal clinched

Import volume at major U.S. retail container ports is expected to increase 8.5 percent in February year over year now that a contract deal has been struck with East Coast and Gulf Coast dockworkers, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Friday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

"We were very happy to see a deal on a tentative contract for the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports but we are urging the parties to quickly work out any outstanding issues and ratify the agreement as soon as possible," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "We need a long-term labor contract in place to give retailers and the other industries that depend on the ports confidence that cargo will continue flowing. We were disappointed that the LA/Long Beach clerical workers' contract wasn't ratified, but are encouraging the parties to work through their differences without a disruption."

The International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance reached tentative agreement February 1 on a contract, avoiding a strike at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. The agreement depends on reaching supplemental local agreements and approval by union members.

In California, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Local 63 Office Clerical Unit voted down a tentative agreement with the Harbor Employers Association on Wednesday.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.32 million TEUs in December, up 2.8 percent from November and up 8 percent year over year. December numbers brought 2012 up to a total of 15.8 million TEUs, rising 2.9 percent from 2011, the report said.

January was estimated at 1.34 million TEUs, up 4.6 percent from January 2012. February is forecast at 1.18 million TEUs, up 8.5 percent from 2011. The report predicts March up 3.6 percent at 1.29 million TEUs, April up 4.4 percent at 1.36 million TEUs, May up 6.2 percent at 1.45 million TEUs, and June up 4.9 percent at 1.45 million TEUs.

"Short to medium-term economic indicators suggest that growth will be sustained but that there will be no breakout into a boom as consumers remain cautious," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. "

Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston.

China tops U.S. in global trade for 2012

China overtook the U.S. as the globe's largest trading nation in 2012 for total imports and exports, according to official numbers from each country.

U.S. imports and exports totaled $3.82 trillion last year, reports the U.S. Commerce Department, and China's customs administration reported total trade in the amount of $3.87 trillion.

"For so many countries around the world, China is becoming rapidly the most important bilateral trade partner," said Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs's asset management division, in a Bloomberg telephone interview. "At this kind of pace by the end of the decade many European countries will be doing more individual trade with China than with bilateral partners in Europe."

When including services, total 2012 U.S. trade went up to $493 trillion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The U.S. had a surplus in services of $195.3 billion last year and a goods deficit of more than $700 billion, according to BEA figures. China's 2012 trade surplus, measured in goods, equaled $231.1 billion.

The U.S. economy is approximately twice the size of China's, according to the World Bank. In 2011, the U.S. gross domestic product topped $15 trillion while China's was $7.3 trillion.

Some economists from banks including UBS AG and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group recently questioned China's export data when the customs administration reported an unanticipated 14.1 percent December export gain. China's General Administration of Customs said the data was based on actual customs declarations.

The U.S. remains the world's largest importer, taking in $2.28 trillion in goods in 2012 compared with China's import figure of $1.82 trillion.

For more of the Bloomberg story:

Strong 2012 showing for California exporters

California's exported $161.7 billion in goods in 2012, exceeding 2011's all-time record of $159.12 billion, according to an analysis of Friday's U.S. Commerce Department trade figures by Beacon Economics.

Beacon officials were cautious about the numbers, however, noting that when adjusted for inflation, the figures actually represent a 0.4 decline year over year, and may even be revised further downward after a long-term examination of the accounting process, as happened in 2011.

Jock O'Connell, Beacon's international trade adviser, says the good news is that both years topped pre-recession export levels, and that it is likely that 2011 and 2012 export figures will end up in a virtual tie.

California businesses exported $13.36 billion worth of goods in December 2012.

Regarding imports, California took in $376.3 billion in goods last year, a rise of about 7 percent from $351.36 billion in 2011.

For more of the San Luis Obispo Tribune story:

2,300 rounds of ammo seized at Port of Oakland

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized approximately 2,300 rounds of ammunition and the cars that were to be used to smuggle at the Port of Oakland, according to a CBP spokesman.

Authorities examined an outbound shipping container at the port in early December and became suspicious, CBP spokesman Frank Falcon said.

While searching three cars bound for Mongolia, agents discovered high-power rifle and shotgun rounds, Falcon said. The container was taken to a secure location to be unloaded, he said.

When the 2006 Lexus RX400, the 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser and the 2007 Toyota Camry were taken apart, ammo was also found in the air filters, according to Falcon. He said no arrests have been made.

For more of the NBC Bay Area story:

Pirates attack British cargo ship, kidnap 3

Pirates attacked a British-owned cargo ship on Thursday in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, kidnapping three crewmembers, according to the ship's owner.

Pirates came aboard the UK-flagged Esther C and stole some property, took the sailors and left, Carisbrooke Shipping reported in a statement.

Russia's foreign ministry said two of its citizens were among the hostages taken between the Cameroonian port of Douala and the port of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.

Armed hijackings have been increasing in the Gulf of Guinea, which is an important source of oil and metals for global markets.

For more of the Reuters story:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Story

Cosco-Busan pilot sues Coast Guard to get license back

The bar pilot who was in charge of the 900-foot container ship Cosco-Busan in 2007 when it hit the Bay Bridge, spilling 53,000 gallons of oil into the bay, is suing the U.S. Coast Guard to get his pilot's license back.

John Cota said the Coast Guard's reasons for refusing to renew his license were "unjustified," and filed suit Friday in an Oakland federal court. Cota, 65, was taking up to 19 medications when the Cosco-Busan struck a tower of the Bay Bridge's western span Nov. 7, 2007.

A federal ruling found that he had not disclosed all of his medical conditions to the Coast Guard, and that his use of prescription drugs likely contributed to his "degraded cognitive performance" before the crash.

Cota served 10 months in federal prison for misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act. The oil spill ruined beaches from Marin to San Mateo County, killing 7,000 birds and reducing the spawning herring population by 29 percent that season.

Cota's suit claims the Coast Guard tricked him into surrendering his state-issued bar pilot's license in 2008 in a "sham" voluntary agreement, then found bogus reasons not to renew them. The Coast Guard stated the reason for refusing the renewal was because Cota was taking Provigil, a stimulant for his sleep apnea, a drug that is not "acceptable for safety-sensitive positions."

The National Transportation Safety Board hearing on the Cosco-Busan incident faulted the Coast Guard's medical-screening process, which has since been revamped.

For more of the San Francisco Chronicle story:

Photo courtesy Robert Galbraith, Reuters

COSCO announces new top management appointments

Liu Hanbo, president of COSCO Americas Inc., announced two new top management appointments Friday.

Timothy E. Marsh was promoted to executive vice president of CCLA, in charge of the trade division at the line's headquarters in Secaucus, NJ. Marsh is now responsible for all marketing, pricing and sales activities within the company, and is accountable for all KPI requirements from COSCON relating to trade. 

Howard Finkel, executive vice president of CCLA and vice president of CAI, is covering relationships with industry groups, the customer base, stockholders and the general public, representing COSCO at events and conferences. He will also serve as the administrator for regulatory, legal and public relations matters.

Finkel will also be part of a team headed by Hanbo that will develop new commercial opportunities for the companies.

2012 U.S. meat exports set new records

2012 U.S. beef and pork exports bested 2011 highs, setting new value records, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

This was good news for a year of export conditions that included trade barriers in several key markets and a slowed economy in many regions, according to the USMEF.

"The export markets are a critical profit center for the industry at a time when the industry is challenged by high input costs and, on the beef side, a historically low herd size," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "2012 saw record highs for per-head export values for both pork and beef at a time when those returns were sorely needed by producers."

Pork exports set volume and value records in 2012, reaching 2.26 million mt, valued at $6.3 billion, a 3.5 percent increase over the prior year's record, the USMEF reported. The per-head export value of U.S. pork set another record in 2012, reaching $55.87, up 1 percent from 2011.

The value of beef exports last year rose 2 percent to a record-high of $5.51 billion on a volume of 1.13 million mt. The per-head export value for beef hit $216.73, a $10.36 increase over 2011, according to the USMEF.

For the year, U.S. beef exports accounted for 12.7 percent of total beef production and 9.8 percent of muscle cut production. This compares to 14.2 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in 2011.

The top two export markets in 2012 for U.S. pork were Japan at $1.98 billion and Mexico at $1.12 billion. For beef, the top two export markets were Canada at $1.17 billion and Japan at $1.03 billion.

UPS adds 300 LCL ocean lanes in 2012

UPS increased its direct less-than-container-load offerings by more than 300 additional lanes in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America during 2012 to meet market demand.

The company also added direct LCL service from countries that offer lower labor cost sourcing to importers, such as Vietnam, where 10 outbound direct LCL lanes were added to U.S., Europe and intra-Asia in 2012.

Other improvements to the direct LCL offering included 12 inbound and outbound lanes to Busan, South Korea to meet demand stemming from the Free Trade Agreement signed between the U.S. and South Korea in March 2012.

UPS's direct LCL global additions in 2012 included the following lanes:
139 Asia outbound lanes
91 Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) outbound lanes
42 Intra-Asia lanes
36 Intra-EMEA lanes
33 North American outbound lanes
15 Latin American outbound lanes
7 Intra-Latin American lanes

5 crewmembers die in lifeboat accident on cruise ship

A lifeboat that was being used during a routine safety drill aboard a cruise ship in the Canary Islands fell 65 feet into a port when a cable snapped, trapping crew members beneath it and killing five of them.

Rescue divers rushed to lifeboat, which had hit the water upside down, and recovered four bodies. They failed to revive a fifth crewman who had stopped breathing, the authority said.

Thomson Cruises confirmed the accident and the casualties aboard its Thomson Majesty ship at Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands.

For more of the Telegraph story:


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top Story

Obama’s call for manufacturing renewal and wage hike efforts faces mixed reviews

President Barack Obama's call for a rebirth of U.S. manufacturing during his State of the Union speech last night may ultimately increase jobs, but his desire to increase the minimum wage will likely face opposition from retailers and small businesses worried about added costs.

In his speech, the President outlined a plan to bring manufacturing back, including establishing a series of schools dedicated to teaching new industrial skills.

Obama called out Apple, which has plans to move some Mac computer manufacturing back to the U.S. from China, as well as Caterpillar, Ford and Intel, which are also moving some manufacturing jobs back home.

Many in the industry are skeptical about the real impact of this manufacturing “renaissance.”

"Fact check on Apple bringing jobs back to US cited (in the speech): Tim Cook is investing only a ROUNDING ERROR of Apple's market cap in the U.S.," wrote Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, on Twitter.

Although Apple said last year it would move some Mac manufacturing to the U.S., it did not say how much or which products, and did not include its most lucrative iPad or iPhone products.

Investors, however, supported the overarching message that U.S. workers need new skills in order for the economy to bounce back.

"Our nation needs to do more exporting," said Steve Westly, a California venture capitalist, and former state controller and senior eBay executive. "We need to do a better job of retraining Americans to get those jobs ... I think most people get that."

For more of the Reuters story:

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

CMA CGM signs debt restructuring deal

Shipping company CMA CGM, the world's third largest, has signed a debt restructuring deal with its banks to strengthen its finances in the face of a volatile freight market, the French firm said Tuesday.

"CMA CGM's agreement with its banks together with new equity injection will result in a significantly more resilient and flexible financial structure," the company said in a statement.

The company had a net debt of approximately $4.6 billion at the end of 2012. The agreement would partly reschedule a credit line that expires this year into new three-year loans worth $375 million, the company said it a statement. The deal will also alter the terms of CMA CGM's bank debt to take into account unpredictability in freight sector, said the statement.

This means the financial terms will no longer be based on core operating profit but on assets, which included about $4 billion in cash at the end of 2012.

Last year CMA CGM signed an agreement with France's investment fund FSI and Turkish shareholder Yildirim Group under which they are to invest $150 million and $100 million respectively in CMA CGM through redeemable bonds.

In January, the shipping giant agreed to sell a 49 percent stake in its Terminal Link division to China Merchants Holdings (International) for $400 million euros.

For more of the Reuters story:

Port of Longview negotiates purchase of land for dredge disposal

Officials from the port of Longview, Wash. will meet with an arbitrator in March to negotiate a price for Howard Island in the Columbia River, which the port wants to use as a dredge disposal site.

CEO Geir Kalhagen and attorney Frank Randolph will represent the port commission at the March 6 meeting with representatives of the Foreign Mission Foundation, which owns the 168-acre island at the intersection of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers.

The commissioners are hoping negotiations will make a costly court battle unnecessary. Last May, commissioners from the ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland and Vancouver used their power of eminent domain to force the foundation to sell, saying the land is needed to store dredge material unearthed to maintain shipping lanes.

The owner is willing to sell, but the price is the sticking issue. The port appraised the land at $913,000, but if an agreement can’t be made between the parties, the courts will step in.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed deepening the Columbia River shipping channel from Astoria to Portland in 2009, and the lower river ports were made responsible for disposing of dredging material from the channel, which was deepened by three feet.

For more of The Daily News story:

Maine port added to container shipping route

Eimskip, also known as the Icelandic Shipping Company, has signed a deal with the Maine Port Authority to set up container freight service in Portland to link to eastern Canada and Europe.

An Eimskip ship will call at Portland every two weeks, providing new opportunities for Maine's agricultural, forest and seafood industries, according to Gov. Paul LePage.

"Maine's economy will be strengthened by this new service and accessibility to markets," LePage said, in a statement.

Eimskip is adding Portland to its service at the end of March, replacing Norfolk, Va. As part of the arrangement, Eimskip will team up with Pan Am Railways to offer rail access to markets in North American.

Eimskip said Portland is well positioned to handle its operations at its International Marine Terminal, which is equipped with a 100-ton mobile crane and electrical outlets for refrigerated cargo containers. The shipping firm plans to operate a warehouse and office in Portland.

Portland, Maine has not offered container cargo service since last spring, when a American Feeder Lines ended service that linked Portland, Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

For more of the Portland Daily Sun story:

14 die in Bangladesh ferry accident

At least 14 people are dead and five were missing on Friday when a ferry carrying 50 hit a sand barge and sank on the Meghna River in Bangladesh, officials said Saturday.

"Rescuers found 12 dead bodies inside the salvaged ferry, while two bodies were recovered yesterday," said Mohammad Saiful Hassan Badal, administrator of Munshiganj district.

For more of the Chicago Tribune story:


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Top Story

ILA releases terms of new contract

The International Longshoremen’s Association released details yesterday of the newest contract for union dockworkers at 14 East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. The union announced that, subject to the final contract language and ratification by the ILA membership, USMX and the ILA have agreed on terms for the new contract.

The new six-year Master Contract, which won’t take effect until local bargaining is finished, will expire on September 30, 2018.

Provisions for container royalties, a major sticking issue, include a minimum coastwise guarantee of $211 million. Additionally, they will cover up to $14 million in administrative expenses. Container royalties that exceed these amounts will be evenly split between USMX and ILA and will be centrally collected according to a plan to be determined. CR5 will continue with some changes to the amounts that can be received without application.

New language was also negotiated to protect workers who have been displaced due to new technology and automation. Additional provisions were put in place to preserve chassis maintenance and repair work.

Regarding wages, a $1.00 per hour wage increase will take effect on October 1, 2014. Two more $1.00 increases were negotiated, one scheduled on October 1, 2016 and another on October 1, 2017. New employees will start at $20.00 per hour. In addition, the wage progression formula in the Master Contract extension was shortened from 9 years to 6 years.

Health care coverage, provided by MILA at no cost to eligible employees, will continue and the local fringe benefit contribution will increase by $1.00 per hour.

The Container Freight Station Fund will continue for both the operation of container freight stations and training, with a contribution of 25 cents per-ton in the first three years. The terms are subject to review in the last three years and a to a CFS subsidy adjustment for each of the six years.

Random drug testing will be used in New York and New Jersey only if the Waterfront Commission agrees to stop testing ILA members. The Jurisdiction Committee has been granted new powers to strengthen enforcement of ILA jurisdiction, including issuing a $10,000 fine in certain circumstances.

Holland quits Port of Seattle Commission

Port Commissioner Rob Holland submitted his letter of resignation yesterday to King County Council Chair Larry Gossett. Holland said he is leaving the port to pursue other professional opportunities. His service on the Port of Seattle Commission will end on March 15.

“The working waterfront is an engine for jobs that lifts families up into prosperity,” said Holland. “I am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve the people of King County on economic justice issues and look forward to continuing my community service in other venues.”

Holland was the topic of a Seattle Times story Sunday regarding problems he had during his first term, including misuse of a port credit card, personal finance problems, and sometimes contentious relationships with staff and colleagues.

As a commissioner, Holland worked to attract minority and women-owned businesses to the airport and, on a trip to Korea, participated in negotiations to retain Hanjin, one of the Port’s largest shipping lines, at the port. According to a port statement, Holland also established free trade zones to boost private-sector innovation and to raise awareness of human trafficking.

“Rob has been a powerful advocate for working families during his service on the Commission,” said Commission President Tom Albro. “He firmly believes that a rising tide must lift all boats, a sentiment that I know we all share. While we will miss Rob’s voice in our meetings, we know he will continue to advance important issues.”

The recent resignations of both Holland and Gael Tarleton means the commission will appoint two commissioners to serve until November. 

Public meetings are scheduled to hear from the candidates: 6 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Downtown Seattle Public Library and 6 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Renton City Council chambers.

For more of the Seattle Times story:

Port of Portland approves rent subsidy for terminal operator to retain business

Commissioners at the Port of Portland approved another subsidy to its terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon, in an attempt to retain shipping lines that currently call at the port in the face of chronic labor problems.

The commissioners approved up to $3.7 million in rent rebates to ICTSI. The payments, in the form of rent reduction, are intended to be savings that the terminal operator will pass on to shipping lines.

This is in addition to the port directly giving shipping lines incentive payments up to $1 million. Combined with the rental subsidies, the incentives will cost the entirety of ICTSI’s 2013 rental income to the port.

"It's the most we can offer," said Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland executive director, after the vote. "We're going to do everything we can to preserve the flow of cargo and carriers here, because once that stops, the likelihood of starting it again is not great."

The trouble in retaining shipping lines at Portland stemmed from a dockworker labor dispute that began in June and stalled the movement of freight, causing ships to bypass Portland. Litigation continues over the dispute, in which the International Longshore and Warehouse Union claimed that two reefer maintenance jobs performed at the North Portland terminal by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers should actually go to ILWU workers.

A federal judge found that longshoremen at the port were staging slowdowns at the terminal and ordered them to resume the normal pace of loading and unloading containers. ILWU denied the slowdowns.

Port officials say dockworker productivity remains low. Trucks were backed up once again Wednesday for over a mile outside Terminal 6.

ICTSI's contracts expired Dec. 31 with Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd., Westwood Shipping Lines and a partnership between Hapag-Lloyd America Inc. and Hamburg Sud. The subsidy program is designed to aid in new negotiations with the shipping lines.

For more of the Oregon Live story:

Panamax rates reach two-month high on U.S. coal exports

Increased exports of coal from the U.S. Gulf Coast resulted in a two-month high in rates for Panamax vessels that haul the mineral.

Daily rates rose 4.4 percent to $6,226, according to data released by the Baltic Exchange Wednesday, resulting in the highest rate level since Dec. 18.

The boost in coal exports this week during colder weather is helping raise rates for Panamaxes, according to analyst Dominic Hardy at Galbraith’s, a London-based shipbroker.

“Rising Panamax rates are probably due to coal exports out of U.S. Gulf and the Baltic,” Hardy told Bloomberg by e-mail. “Later on in the year we expect to see support from the South American grain season but this won’t have kicked in yet.”

Returns for Capesize ships that usually hold at least 150,000 metric tons of iron ore dropped 0.6 percent to $7,130 a day, according to the exchange. Supramaxes lost 0.7 percent to $6,938, exchange figures showed.

For more of the Bloomberg story:

U.S. and E.U. agree to launch trade talks

Officials from the U.S. and the European Union announced their intentions yesterday to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Cooperatively, the U.S. and E.U. would form the largest free trade zone in the world, expected to boost the economies of both nations.

According to a joint statement from President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, "The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world's largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity."

Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida, head of the European Union delegation to the United States, wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that an agreement "would undoubtedly be a recovery booster."

Khapra Beetle found in container at Port of Baltimore

A shipment of celery seed from India at the Port of Baltimore last Friday was found to be heavily infested with Khapra Beetle, according to agricultural specialists from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

The CBP said they had not found live specimens, but removed the dead insects from the container.

The importer was issued an emergency notice requiring the 500-bag, 55,000-pound shipment of celery seed to be re-exported or destroyed.  The importer chose to have the shipment re-exported. 

For more of the ABC2 News story:

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