Rates, surcharges, volume commitments, customer service and dispute resolutions are usually key areas of discussion between shipping lines and their customers, and for exporters in the trans-Pacific's westbound trade, there is now a more formalized checklist for these hot points.
The container-shipping lines that make up the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement came up with what it terms a "Service Contracting Process Checklist" in conjunction with its customer advisory board.
"The intent [behind the checklist] is to increase efficiency and clarity in the contracting process, and to minimize the potential for disputes," the WTSA said in a statement.
A shipper board was established by the WTSA in September 2010 after what it said was over two years of "informal" discussions with its customer base in response to 2009's global shipping recession and the impacts it had on bookings, space and equipment availability.
"The checklist is not intended to be a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to contracting," said WTSA executive administrator Brian M. Conrad.
"It is just a set of suggestions carriers and shippers might consider in their individual contracting. If we learned anything from our deliberations and our discussions with the shippers, it was that the U.S. -Asia shipper base is extremely diverse in terms of commodity characteristics and company objectives. We simply wanted to highlight some well-known friction points in typical carrier/shipper contract discussions where some added communication, supporting data or specificity could make the process simpler, quicker, and less adversarial," Conrad said.
Following is the verbatim checklist published by the WTSA on its website: Volume Commitment
Does the contract clearly define the obligations in terms of the overall volume commitment (minimum quantity commitment, or MQC, as well as maximum, if any)? Is there a clear mutual understanding of the importance of a genuine commitment to volume?
Does the contract language provide for projected volume and capacity forecasting by both parties?
Are both shippers and carriers clear in their expectations as to how much cargo is likely to move under the contract, with their commitments tailored to reflect this? How should the volume commitments be structured, given the parties' expectations and any flexibility needed by the parties?
Does the contract contain any options for more clearly setting forth volume (for the benefit of carrier) and equipment/capacity (for the benefit of shipper) commitments? Possible options could be:
A maximum volume commitment in addition to the required MQC, and provisions to specify what happens when the maximum is reached/exceeded.
Language that clarifies whether the MQC is equally divided over the contract term or may be shipped on a less regular/consistent schedule
Language clarifying if tolerances are allowed (e.g., shipper will tender/carrier will supply a certain number of containers per week +/- __%)- More granular MQCs by commodity, equipment, trade, or origin/destination pair, for example, depending on shipper's ability to forecast and commit this level of detail
A clause providing that shipper commits to and pays for a certain quantity of cargo whether the space is used or not.
Is it possible to subdivide the commitment by time frame (i.e., quarterly, monthly) for better planning and monitoring by both sides?
For contracts covering multiple commodities and trade lanes with different characteristics, should 'sub-MQCs' be considered for each, that take into account the possible different circumstances and how they might change?
Does the contract provide for review and adjustment of commitments based on performance in the prior time period?
What provisions are there for non-performance against the commitment, by both sides? (see more detailed separate items below)
Are there provisions for "force majeure" events that could impact the actual volume shipped?
Is it necessary or practical to have a 12-month contractual commitment? Based on the nature of the commodity, would a shorter or longer contractual time frame be preferable?
For how long should the pricing in the contract be fixed?
If pricing is to be fixed in terms of increases, should there be a similar provision for decreases? Can language be included to provide stability and predictability for both parties?
Does the contract provide for specific time frames when rate levels can be reviewed, such as upon completion of the MQC, or on a regular calendar basis? Are there market conditions spelled out in the contract that would trigger reviews in rate levels?
Can there be shorter-term fixed pricing within the overall contract duration? Should prices be fixed both up and down for a specified time frame, based on commodity?
If there are fixed time periods within the contract for pricing (e.g., monthly, quarterly), does the contract include language that specifies when the pricing for the next time period is to be reviewed and finalized? Does it include specific advance notice requirements?
Is there some type of mutually agreed upon index in the contract that would trigger adjustments in rates, both up and down?
As an alternative, should the contract include a minimum and/or maximum band within which rates would float up or down throughout the life of the contract?
Will the contract contain any "force majeure" clause on pricing, which would allow for unforeseen events that could affect rates (other than normal GRI adjustments, etc.)?
Does the contract clearly specify and define those surcharges that are covered under, and governed by, the contract?
Where a contract provides for assessment of new charges over the contract term, is there a notification period and specified acceptance process for such new charges?
Is there a provision stipulating a minimum notice period for any surcharge increase?
If surcharges are governed by the applicable carrier tariff, is there a clear reference to this in the contract?
Are the definition, purpose and calculation methodology of each surcharge clearly spelled out, including any acronyms referenced?
Is it clear to all parties what fuel-related charges are covered under the contract are subject to?
Is the "bunker fuel charge" clearly defined and consistently described throughout the contract? Is there agreement on the scope of the charge and what it covers, so as to avoid duplication with other possible charges?
Is the amount of the charge, and the formula on which the charge is based, clearly laid out in the contract?
Will the charge be self-contained in the contract, or will it refer to carrier's governing tariff? If the latter, is there clear wording in the contract that makes this easy to understand and refer to?
How will the charge reflect changes in bunker costs over the contract term? Will there be a floating formula or other mechanism to modify the charge periodically? If there is a floating formula, how often and on what basis will it be modified?
Are service guarantees and commitments (equipment, schedule, transit time, etc.), subject to mutual agreement provided for the contract? if so, are they clearly defined in the contract and understood up front?
Are there guarantees and penalties, which would normally be mutual, with both parties prepared to adhere to these conditions and penalties?
What protection do carriers have with respect to fall downs and phantom bookings?
What protections are included in the contract with respect to rolled bookings by carriers?
Have parties considered clearly defined "force majeure" clauses that are mutually agreeable to both sides for conditions that could affect performance?
Are there provisions for notice to be provided by either party to the other party when there are delays in production problems, vessel departure, vessel arrivals, etc.
Does the contract language provide for regular, mutual performance reviews during the contract term, using clearly defined metrics? Does it enable both sides to amend performance commitments going forward based on these reviews, by mutual agreement?
Does the contract define and stipulate the recourse that either party will have in the event of a contract dispute?
Among the possible options for recourse that might be considered:
A clearly defined channel of communication at senior management level for both carrier and shipper, to resolve disputes informally
Mediation/arbitration services offered by the FMC, through its Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS)
Resolution by court or arbitrator, specifying governing law and applicable venue, if above fails
Does the contract define and clearly spell out terms and conditions for detention/ demurrage charges and free time allowances, either in detail or through a reference to carriers' governing tariff provisions?
Are there defined parameters by which the contract is considered to be "fulfilled" by either party? Is there a specified point (measured by duration, volume, or some other factor) at which the contract obligations are no longer binding?
West Coast box biz for March: Five ports are up while one slips
Container-handling volumes improved for a quintet of West Coast seaports in March over the same period last year, while a 15-month record ended for one Southern California port.
Long Beach reported its containerized business slipped 2.5 percent over the same period in 2010, after well over a year's worth of growth.
The port attributed the slower numbers, in part, to the time of year when the Chinese New Year slows manufacturing activity there. Japan's natural disaster crisis has also been reported as a possible impact on the port's numbers.
The Port of Long Beach said it handled 412,235 TEUs compared to 422,774 TEUs in March 2010.
Imported boxes were down 7.5 percent at 191,211 TEUs, while exports increased 1 percent to 131,761 TEUs, the port said. Empty container moves were up 4.2 percent to 89,263 TEUs.
Total shipping volume at the Port of Los Angeles for March year-over-year was up 9.2 percent at 600,796 TEUs. Imports through the port rose 10.2 percent to 297,023 TEUs, compared with 269,634 TEUs for the same period last year.
Exports soared 19.2 percent to 192,849 TEUs. Empty container volume dropped 6.6 percent to 110,924 TEUs.
Heading north up the West Coast to the Pacific Northwest, the Port of Seattle recorded a 3.8 percent increased in total containerized trade at 160,524 TEUs.
Imports were up 8.9 percent for the month over the same period last year at 75,903 TEUs, and exports increased 2.8 percent over March 2010 to 62,452 TEUs.
The Puget Sound port is up close to 16 percent for the year for exported containers. Empties were down 11.1 percent at 26,870 TEUs.
The other major Puget Sound container port in Tacoma edged up .5 percent year over year in March for a total of 130,417 TEUs with imported boxes down from March 2010's 39,063 TEUs to 37,707 TEUs, and exports up to 35,441 TEUs from last March's 32,030 TEUs.
Tacoma's empties were down in March to 13,923 TEUs from last year's 15,245 TEUs. Year to date, the Port of Tacoma reports its total container volume is up 9 percent.
Further north, over the border, Port Metro Vancouver recorded a 9 percent increase year to date for total containers handled at 576,711 TEUs, as imports increased 11 percent year over year to 306,551 TEUs, and exported boxes rose 8 percent to 270,160 TEUs.
Empty containers shipped were up 21 percent to 63,058 TEUs.
Heading up Western Canada's coastline to the Port of Prince Rupert, total containerized volume was up 3.8 percent to 23,805 TEUs handled in March, compared to March 2010's 22,942 TEUs.
Imported traffic at Prince Rupert was up 4.5 percent at 12,217 TEUs, while exports were up 2.9 percent over March 2010 at 11,587 TEUs handled.
Empty boxes shipped were down 40.8 percent at 3,727 TEUs.
Prince Rupert's overall container-shipping business is down 14.9 percent for the year through the end of March.
Georgia port chief takes dredging case to rival Charleston this week
The chief executive of Georgia's port authority is heading 100 miles north this week to speak before a local shipping industry gathering at its rival's homeport of Charleston, South Carolina about the need for dredging as the Panama Canal's widening draws nearer.
The GPA's CEO Curtis Foltz will reportedly talk about the $588 million his port needs to dredge its shipping channel down 6 feet, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Both the GPA and the South Carolina State Ports Authority are lobbying hard for Federal funds from the federal government to engage in their major dredging projects.
Charleston's port is out to dredge its harbor down to 50 feet at a cost of $300 million. The port has been unable, thus far, to even secure feasibility study funds from the feds.
In the middle of the two ports is a proposed container terminal in Jasper County that both states oversee and could cause further slowdown of dredging funds due in part to politics between the two seaport competitors.
Crowley Maritime Corporation announced its liner division is adding 500 new containers to its service offerings in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Central America.
The Jacksonville-based company said the latest addition would grow its equipment fleet to over 46,000 units.
The new acquisitions will increase Crowley's fleet of 40-foot containers by almost 5 percent and its 45-foot group of containers by nearly 4 percent at 250 each, the company said.
BNSF trains collide in Iowa killing two
A Burlington Northern-Santa Fe coal train collided with one of the railroad's maintenance trains near Red Oak, Iowa, killing two of the crew, according to several news reports out of the region.
The BNSF's spokesman Gus Melonas confirmed the trains were traveling eastbound when the coal train crashed into the rear of the other at approximately 7 A.M. on Sunday.
Each train had two crewmembers. The conductor and engineer on the coal train died, as ten cars from the maintenance train, and three from the coal train derailed creating a fire that was extinguished, according to Melonas.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced it is investigating the incident.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Long Beach harbor commissioner confirmed for FMC post
Mario Cordero, a two-term member of the Port of Long Beach harbor commission, was confirmed April 14 by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Federal Maritime Commission.
President Obama nominated Cordero, a private practice attorney, to the FMC post last year. His first term as commissioner on the Port of Long Beach’s board began in 2003.
The Federal Maritime Commission is a regulatory body that monitors international shipping in U.S. waters.
"I am very honored for the support by President Obama and the Senate," said Cordero in a statement.
“With my experience with the Port of Long Beach -- one of the world’s premier seaports and a leading environmental steward -- I can bring a unique and valuable perspective to the Federal Maritime Commission,” he said.
Cordero has been credited for having an integral role in the Port of Long Beach’s green policies and clean air plan.
In related news, current FMC commissioner Rebecca Dye was also confirmed for another term.
Japan’s disrupted supply chain could impact some quarterly earnings
Several global firms are making noises that their respective quarterly earnings could be impacted by the supply chain disruptions that resulted from Japan’s 9.0 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear leak scare.
Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson Inc. lowered its shipments forecast this week due to difficulty in getting radio components, according to a Reuters report.
Sony Ericsson, Apple Inc Texas Instruments, and Toshiba Corp. could all reportedly reveal lowered margins due to supply chain pressures on global electronics manufacturers that source out of Japan, and they are not alone.
"It's cross-sector. Electronics are used in so many areas," said Bryan Keane, equity analyst for the Alpine Mutual Funds, in the Reuters report. "It has the potential to be very wide-ranging. To some extent, it's going to affect everyone. Even if your direct supplier isn't impacted, your supplier could get their materials from someone in Japan."
Automaker General Motors also referred to Japan’s supply chain issues this week, as well as rising oil prices, bringing the company’s stock down.
Vietnam’s government nears end of bunker surcharge investigation
Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport is reportedly nearing the end of an investigation into bunker surcharges instigated by shipping lines that include Asian carriers Evergreen, Hanjin, OOCL and Wan Hai.
Since the end of March, emergency bunker surcharges were implemented on intra-Asia container-shipping customers that added another $30 per-TEU, according to news service Vietnam Net.
Shipping lines are reportedly concerned over the political instability in oil-producing countries that have been in the throes of popular uprisings, such as Libya.
Some of Vietnam’s exporters feel they are being unjustly charged.
“Currently, some ship owners are also charging shipments with the Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) fee, which applies to normal [operations] and air-conditioning containers. This fee is adjusted monthly to fit the global situation, especially oil prices. This means exporters have to bear double charges at the same time,” said Ngo Hai Hang, chief executive officer of Bee Logistics.
A furniture exporter from Vietnam’s Binh Duong Province said his freight rate for shipments to a customer in Singapore have gone up 200 percent as a result of the added fees.
“In addition, we have to pay port owners…a charge called ‘transport blockage charge’ and many other fees,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and the Vietnam Shippers’ Council has joined up with the Asian Shippers’ Council to hold negotiations with shipping lines over what they term to be unreasonable fees and surcharges for exporters.
The Ministry of Transport’s findings will reportedly be completed by the end of this month.
North Carolina embarks on $1.7 mil “maritime economic strategy” study
North Carolina’s Department of Transportation has contracted the consulting engineering firms AECOM and URS Corp and will oversee a $1.7 million “maritime economic strategy” study that reportedly will research how ocean cargo business could boost the state’s economic development.
According to the Star News Online, the at least part of the study will focus on the fledgling $1.5 billion North Carolina International Terminal mega-port project that was tabled in the wake of a $2 billion state budget shortfall.
"The bottom line is we're trying to see what the future holds … then see whether it makes sense to invest in it," said Roberto Canales, the state D.O.T.’s coordinator of strategic initiatives.
IMO condemns Somali pirates using captives as “human shields”
The United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a statement condemning what it says is “the use of sailors as human shields after Somali pirates continued to detain seven crew members of a recently released ship even though a ransom had been reportedly paid.”
Six officers and another crewmember of the M/V Asphalt Venture are reportedly being held at an undisclosed location even though their ship and the rest of the those aboard were released by pirates off Somalia last Thursday, almost seven months after the vessel and crew were hijacked.
“Using seafarers as human shields to continue to engage in piracy – one of the most heinous of crimes against humanity at sea – is totally unacceptable,” the IMO said.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Hutchison, Carlyle pull out of Galveston port negotiations
Amid negotiations to run the Port of Galveston's cargo and cruise operations for a proposed 75-year lease, a partnership between Hong Kong's Hutchison Ports Holdings and investment firm Carlyle Group unexpectedly pulled out of the deal last week.
The reason for the partnership's pullout was not clear when Roland Bassett, chairman of the Galveston Wharves Board told the Houston Chronicle: "I can't even speculate what the reason was."
In addition to the aggressive 75-year lease, the Hutchison-Carlyle team had reportedly agreed to pay off the Port of Galveston's approximate $60 million in debt along with providing up front cash, a decade's worth of capital improvements, and revenue sharing from operations.
Neither Hutchison nor Carlyle has commented publically on the reasoning for dropping out of the Galveston port negotiations.
Hub Group credits intermodal for Q1 profit, revenue boost
Freight firm Hub Group Inc reported its first quarter net income hit a forecast-beating $10.5 million thanks in part to improved intermodal shipments.
Hub Group said revenue from its intermodal business grew 17 percent, making up 70 percent of its total revenue, which grew 16 percent to $485.4 million.
Toys "R" Us to open new e-commerce distribution center near Reno
Toys"R"Us Inc announced it plans to open a new 300,000 square-foot distribution center near Reno, Nevada to handles its growing e-commerce business.
The new Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in McCarran is expected to open in July of this year in time for the holiday shipping season, the major toy retailer said.
"We believe the McCarran facility will play an important role in further accelerating our company's online business growth and order fulfillment," said Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc in a statement.
The McCarran facility will mark the twelfth facility for store distribution and e-commerce.
Georgia Ports Authority has record month for Ro-Ro
The Georgia Ports Authority announced it had a record month in March at its Colonel's Island Ro-Ro terminal, handling 42,740 units, a 36 percent increase over the same period last year and its best month ever.
The ports authority also posted containerized gains in Savannah handling 238,030 TEUs, a 4.5 percent gain over March 2010, bringing the port up 12.6 percent for its fiscal year to date.
First Lady's plane has close call with military cargo aircraft
According to several news reports, First Lady Michelle Obama experienced a close call when a plane she was on came too close to a military cargo aircraft on Monday at Andrews Air Force Base.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.
The FAA issued a statement that said air traffic controllers at the Air Force base told an incoming C-40 Boeing 737 with the First Lady on board to do a "go around" because there was not enough "separation" between it and a C-17 aircraft that was landing.
The FAA said there was no real danger to either plane during the incident. The planes were reportedly 3 miles apart when a regional radar operation handed Michelle Obama's aircraft off to the tower at Andrews Air Force Base.
Thursday, April 20, 2011
PMA sues ILWU Bay Area local
By Richard Knee
The organization representing most West Coast marine terminal operators is suing a San Francisco Bay Area dockworkers' union local in federal court for alleged, unspecified damages stemming from an April 4 work slowdown at the Port of Oakland.
Both sides have maintained silence on the case (No. 11-1659), which the Pacific Maritime Association filed against International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 and its president, Richard Mead, in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
Cargo Business News learned of the lawsuit from labor activists planning a midday rally next Monday in front of PMA headquarters in downtown San Francisco to urge the organization to abandon the court action.
Cargo Business News obtained a copy of the plaintiffs' court petition courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In it, the PMA is asking the court to confirm and enforce an arbitrator's finding that the work slowdown violated the contract between the PMA and the ILWU, and to award "all damages sustained by PMA and its member companies as a result of defendants' illegal violation of the (contract); PMA's costs of suit … including reasonable attorney's fees; and such other relief as the court may deem just and proper."
Local 10 dockworkers shut down one of Oakland's seven container terminals and pared operations at two others on the daytime shift on April 4 but information on how much cargo and how many ships were affected has not been made known.
The work slowdown was tied to a series of rallies and other actions that organized labor staged across the country to voice solidarity with public employees in Wisconsin, where a bill stripping them of collective-bargaining rights was enacted by lawmakers and then put on hold by a judge.
Oakland was apparently the only West Coast container port where cargo-handling activity halted. Port authority representatives in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle said operations proceeded as normal.
Port of Oakland spokesman Robert Bernardo said dockworkers walked of the job at the SSA terminal a bit before the 9 a.m. start of the day shift. In addition, they "curtailed or stopped" some activities at APL's facility, and handled only refrigerated boxes at Hanjin's, he said. The PMA took the matter to arbitration and received a favorable ruling at about noon, and operations resumed at the terminals at 5 p.m., he said.
The slowdowns caused a backup of truck traffic, which cleared up once operations resumed, he said.
Local 10 dockworkers also walked off in San Francisco, which is primarily a bulk and breakbulk port, but no cargo or cruise ship was docked there that day, port marketing manager Michael Nerney said.
CSX, UP hauled more autos, coal, chemicals, intermodal in Q1
Terrible winter weather in the U.S. didn't appear to slow down the CSX and Union Pacific railroads, which managed 30 percent and 24 percent increases, respectively, in first quarter revenues, on the backs of auto, coal, chemical and intermodal cargoes.
CSX reported quarterly profit of $395 million, up from $305 million for the same period last year. The Jacksonville-based railroad's revenue was up 13 percent at $2.81 billion, with freight volume growing 7 percent.
Autos and auto parts freight accounted for 20 percent of CSX's cargo growth and the railroad said would add more cars to handle that increasing business.
CSX said it expects to haul a record 33 percent more export coal this year at 40 million tons destined for markets like Asia, Europe and South America.
The CSX Railroad said it also plans to add approximately 1,000 workers this year – a 3 percent increase.
The biggest U.S. railroad, the Union Pacific, reported freight volume up 5 percent as it posted 13 percent growth in revenue for its first quarter at $4.49 billion with profit of $639 million, up from $516 million for the same period in 2010.
The U.P. said its profit was impacted by a 33-percent jump in diesel prices while the railroad still managed to break a record for first quarter operating ratio and cash from operations.
The Omaha-based railroad said it hauled 15 percent more industrial products and intermodal freight for the quarter over the same period last year. Chemical haulage was up 13 percent, the U.P. said.
U.S. Trade Rep Kirk: On pace to double exports (incl. video link)
President Obama's stated goal of doubling U.S. exports within the next five years is "well over the pace that we would need," said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk this week at a roundtable at Johns Hopkins University.
"I can tell you, 'Made in America' is still one of the most treasured brands in the world. We still have far and away the largest consumer economy in the world, and we are still doing very well manufacturing," Kirk said.
"You wouldn't hear any of this if you read the paper today," he said.
"A great way to get your economy going is to sell more of what you make to the rest of the world," said Kirk.
For the link to the full video conversation with Kirk: www.ustr.gov
Hundreds of Chinese port truckers protest in Shanghai
Up to 1,000 Chinese port truckers reportedly protested rising fuel surcharges and inflationary costs in the major seaport city of Shanghai this week.
The truckers were lobbying for higher pay, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The latest protests, which included clashes with police, seemed to indicated continued popular unrest that has included farmers holding grain hostage over higher price demands amid rising food costs in the world's second largest economy.
China's central government has undertaken measure to combat inflation such as increasing interest rates four times in the last six months.
For the full Wall Street Journal story (subscription required): online.wsj.com
Hanjin says containership attacked by pirates
South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co. said pirates near the Gulf of Aden attacked one of its 6,500-TEU containerships.
There were 20 crewmembers on board the vessel that appears to have been hijacked, a spokesperson for the ocean carrier said.
The South Korean Navy has reportedly dispatched the destroyer Choi Young to the area.
The Choi Young was involved in the successful rescue of a South Korean chemical ship and its crew of 21 in January by Somali pirates – five of which await trial.
Friday, April 20, 2011
Day 3 of Shanghai port trucker strike
Approximately 600 truckers serving Shanghai's Baoshan Port were reportedly protesting for higher pay in front of a logistics firm today while throwing rocks at non-striking drivers, and causing concern over a slowdown of containerized exports from the busiest container port in the world.
Most of Shanghai port's drayage drivers are independent contractors, much like their U.S. counterparts.
The strikers want the Chinese government to do something about rising fuel costs and what they claim are high fees levied on them by logistics firms, according to a Reuters report.
Amid police action attempting to disperse the protesters, which reportedly numbered as high 1,000 on Thursday, there has been concern over a slowdown of exports from the major shipping hub.
"The strike has delayed exports and many ships cannot take on a full load before leaving," said Wei Yujun, assistant to the general manager at China Star Distribution Center (Shanghai) Co. in the Reuters story.
"For example, if one ship carries 5,000 containers en route to Hong Kong and the U.S., now they can only carry 1,000 or 2,000 containers," Wei said.
The port's operator, Shanghai International Port Group has thus far denied any cargo disruption while a meeting with the striking truckers is reportedly in the works for Monday.
"We are continuing our strike," a truck driver surnamed Liu told Reuters. "There has been no response from the government or anybody else. There's nothing we can do."
China's central government announced earlier this month it would increase gasoline and diesel prices by a record high 5-5.5 percent.
He came in peace: GPA chief touts joint dredging needs in Charleston
Perhaps it was not a scene many in the Southeast U.S. shipping industry would have thought possible, however, on Thursday, the Georgia Port Authority's chief executive, Curtis Foltz, crossed the border to the north to speak before a gathering at the rival Port of Charleston with a message of unifying for the dredging cause.
"I'm not sure who was more surprised, the call I got inviting me here or my accepting it," Foltz told the Propeller Club of Charleston, according to the Post and Courier newspaper.
Foltz reportedly touted the need for his state and South Carolina to push for federal dredging funds to pus Savannah's shipping channel six feet down from 42 feet and Charleston's harbor down to 50 feet from its current 45-foot ship channel depth.
He also spoke in favor of developing the Jasper County, South Carolina container terminal that has been met with environmental resistance over perceived ecological damage from dredging the Savannah River – dredging that the Port of Savannah is desperate for with the coming widened Panama Canal expansion and eventual larger, deeper-draft containerships calling the East Coast from Asia.
Both port authorities were not included in the latest U.S. federal budget proposal for dredging funds.
Foltz told his age-old competitors that both states are now in the same boat.
"In the business we're in, it's a river that needs to bring us together."
Charleston's container business up 5.7 percent for March
The Port of Charleston, South Carolina announced its container-shipping volume was up 5.7 percent year over year for March at 120,265 TEUs, and up 11.6 percent July-March at 1,033,062 TEUs.
The port said its breakbulk cargo volume, including automobiles, was also up considerably for the first three quarters of its fiscal year, at 48 percent to 754,000 tons at its Charleston and Bainbridge facilities.
"While the rate of growth is slowing from last year's initial volume recovery, we are still moving in the right direction," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the U.S. Southeast port authority.
OWL claims it is first NVOCC to handle freight direct from growers
Ocean World Line, a subsidiary of Pacer International, announced it is the first non-vessel operating common carrier to handle freight direct from apple growers.
OWL said it is working with apple exporters in Eastern Washington State and Chile to reach overseas markets in their respective growing seasons.
Apple growers in Yakima, Wash. harvest their fruit from July-November, and Chilean apple growers harvest from December through February.
OWL said it cold stores the Yakima Valley apples before shipping them to Nhava Sheva, India, with plans to widen the overseas markets to Hong Kong, China and Indonesia this year.
The NVOCC said it performs a similar service for an apple exporter out of San Antonio, Chile, shipping to Seattle, Wash. during the offseason for domestic apple harvest.
"OWL is the first NVOCC to handle this type of business, which is very exciting," said Roland Cardoza, the company's regional manager in Seattle.
A containerized neighborhood?
Don't look now, but you might wake up to find a shipping container house next door.
That's right, a planning commission in Long Beach, Calif. voted in favor of allowing the use of steel containers, the ones you see on containerships, being used as building material thanks to the owners of a property in a neighborhood there with one of those big boxes in their backyard, according to a story in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Heretofore, there had been a ban in Long Beach, home of one of the busiest container ports in the Americas, on metal roofs and siding for residential residences.
The designer of what will now become a new containerized home, had argued before the commission this would be a fireproof, sustainable type of housing.