Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Nippon Yusen, Mitsui O.S.K. and seven other car carriers sued for price fixing
A shipping company has accused Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan's largest shipping line, and eight other maritime-car shipping companies of fixing prices on carrier services.
Manaco International Forwarder alleges officials of Nippon Yusen and other car transporters, such as Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, violated U.S. antitrust laws by conspiring to "fix, stabilize or maintain prices of" their services, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan.
The conspiracy caused Manaco and other shipping clients to "pay artificially inflated prices" to have cars delivered, the company said in the complaint. Manaco is trying to have the case certified as a class action lawsuit.
The suit came after raids by Japanese antitrust regulators last year at the offices of Nippon Yusen and four other shipping companies that comprise about 70 percent of the worldwide market for transporting automobiles. The companies said the search was in connection with an investigation of price-fixing claims.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
China Cosco to lower first-half loss after selling assets
China Cosco Holdings, Beijing's biggest shipping company, issued a statement announcing it expects to lower its first-half loss after selling assets.
Net loss in the six months to June will probably narrow up to 85 percent from a net loss of 794 million a year earlier, according to a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
China Cosco, which posted losses for the past two years, is restructuring assets in order to return to profitability since a third straight annual loss could result in shares being delisted in Shanghai. The company has decided to sell its logistics unit and a stake in a container maker to its parent for one-time gains.
"The company still posted a loss in the first half because the imbalance between demand and supply in the shipping market had no material improvement," China Cosco said in the statement. "Container and dry-bulk shipping remained weak and freight rates fell from a year earlier."
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
FDA proposes food safety rules on food importers
To ensure that food companies can't get around U.S. food safety laws by producing food in other countries and then importing it for sale to Americans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed rules on Friday to require food importers to better audit the production methods of their international partners and the food that they eventually sell in the U.S.
According to the FDA press release, under the new rules, importers would be "accountable for verifying that their foreign suppliers are implementing modern, prevention-oriented food safety practices, and achieving the same level of food safety as domestic growers and processors. The FDA is also proposing rules to strengthen the quality, objectivity, and transparency of foreign food safety audits…"
For the first time, U.S. importers would have a clearly defined responsibility to verify that their suppliers produce food to meet U.S. food safety requirements.
About half of the fresh fruit bought in America is grown overseas and 20 percent of the vegetables. Candy and other processed food also come across international borders.
The proposed rules, which were written to meet the demands of the 2011 Food Modernization Safety Act, could cost food producers an additional $500 million a year, the FDA says. But they are expected to save lives and reduce hospital visits; 48 million Americans get sick every year from their food, and 3,000 of them die.
For more of the Grist story: grist.org
Cargo volume at Georgia ports just shy of 3-million-TEU milestone
Cargo volume moving through Savannah was down slightly to 2.94 million TEUs. It's the third straight year containers at Savannah have hovered just shy of 3 million, according to a statement from the Georgia Ports Authority.
Overall tonnage at Georgia's seaports in Savannah and Brunswick increased 2.4 percent to a record 27.23 million tons during the 2013 fiscal year just ended, the port said. Georgia's ports also set records during the last fiscal year for bulk cargo, auto and machinery units, and freight moved by intermodal rail, the statement said.
Curtis Foltz, executive director for Georgia's ports, said contentious contract negotiations for longshoremen last fall caused U.S. retailers to divert about 70,000 containers from Savannah to the West Coast, causing the port to just miss the 3 million container milestone.
U.S. Coast Guard reopens Hawaii Island ports, Maui port remains closed
The Coast Guard in Honolulu reopened the ports of Hilo and Kawaihae on the Big Island this afternoon after closing them Sunday night because of the threat of Flossie.
The Kahului, Maui port still remains closed to all traffic.
Capt. Shannon Gilreath, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, continued to urge local mariners to remain vigilant to forecasts for Tropical Storm Flossie.
For more of the Star Advertiser story: staradvertiser.com
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Europe's ports spend $13B to accommodate Maersk megaships
Europe's biggest container ports are spending big money to invest in deeper ports, bigger cranes, longer berths and larger container yards, or risk being locked out of the Asia-Europe trade route, where Maersk and other shipping companies are using increasingly larger ships to enhance their bottom lines.
"Ports won't any time soon be able to get to back to profitability levels seen before the 2009 crisis because of moderate utilization, slow growth and the additional capacity coming on stream within the next 24 months," said Henning Breiter, a Hamburg-based analyst at Hauck & Aufhaeuser, a private bank. "It's getting more difficult for ports to pass on rising costs to their customers, and a weak economy is not helping at all."
The average vessel capacity on the Asia-North Europe trade route, where the world's largest ships operate, increased to a record 10,279-TEU containers in the first quarter of 2013, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants. That's a rise of 7.6 percent from 2012 and 53 percent up compared to five years ago.
European ports such as Rotterdam and Felixstowe, U.K., have spent or are committed to spending up to $13.3 billion on projects that allow them to do business with the world's largest container ships, according to Drewry analyst Neil Davidson.
For more of the Bloomberg story: businessweek.com
Hapag-Lloyd advises customers to avoid Port of N.Y.-N.J. due to delays
Hapag-Lloyd wrote a letter to its customers this week, advising them to reroute cargo shipments away from the Port of New York and New Jersey to avoid the chronic "severe congestion" that has had trucks idling for hours in terminal queues.
The letter enumerates the causes for the delays at the Port of New York and New Jersey, including marine terminal system updates and rollouts, a shortage of trucking power because of new Hours of Service regulations implemented in July, a shortage of ILA labor due to summer vacations (affecting both terminal operations and terminal-to-rail truck transfers) and construction and vessel bunching at marine terminals.
Both local and rail cargo are affected, the letter said. "In efforts to minimize commercial exposure to NY/NJ and restore our service to our customers," reads the July 26 letter, "we strongly suggest, rerouting cargo whenever possible."
Hapag Lloyd recommended that for cargo from or to the Europe/Mediterranean region, customers start using the alternative ports of Montreal, Halifax or Norfolk. For cargo from/to the Indian Sub-Continent/South East Asia, the shipping line recommended using the ports of Halifax or Norfolk, and for cargo from/to Latin America, they suggested the ports of Norfolk, Baltimore or Savannah.
The company said they do not expect normal service to be restored at the East Coast port complex until mid-September of this year.
DP World container volume drops 5.8 percent in first half
DP World container volumes dropped 5.8 percent during the first half of 2013.
The company handled 26.6 million TEUs during the first six months of 2013. Like-for-like TEU volumes dropped by 2.1 percent, and consolidated volumes fell by 3.9 percent.
Containers numbers were lower in the Asia Pacific, Indian Subcontinient and its Europe, Midle East and Africa region because of a "challenging macroeconomic environment."
The company also said that it was continuing to focus on handling smaller numbers of higher-margin containers in order to improve margins.
"The first half saw important progress in the delivery of three major projects in 2013," said Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. "In June we welcomed an additional 1 million TEU capacity at our flagship Jebel Ali Terminal. In the second half of this year, we will deliver developments in Santos (Brazil) and London Gateway (UK)."
For more of the Construction Week story: constructionweekonline.com
U.S. 2012 economic growth stronger than previously reported
The U.S. government says the country's economy grew at a much faster pace last year than previously estimated, according to an update from the Commerce Department. The revised growth figures indicate a more sustainable economic recovery and are more in line with better job growth numbers reported this year.
The economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in 2012, up from the previous estimate of 2.2 percent. Consumers and businesses spent more and governments cut back on their spending less.
The upgrade to 2012 growth helps resolve an inconsistency that has stumped economists. Hiring rose late last year and has remained solid into 2013 and the economy has created more than 200,000 jobs a month on average since last fall.
The previously reported growth figures had economists worried that employers would eventually have to slow hiring.
But now that growth is closer in line with the job gains, it is a sign that this year's strength in hiring may last.
For more of the manufacturing.net story: manufacturing.net
Crane fire at Port of New Hampshire
When a worker at Grimmel Industries scrap metal company walked away from a crane Tuesday he heard a pop, then watched as the engine compartment burst into flames, according to Deputy Fire Chief Carl Roediger.
Nearby firefighters launched to quickly attack the fire, Roediger said. The crane had been in operation by the worker who was moving scrap metal at the Port of New Hampshire.
The crane was unoccupied at the time and the fire was probably fueled by hydraulic fluid, motor oil, diesel fuel, or a combination of the three, said Roediger. Firefighters fully extinguished it using dry chemical extinguishers.
For more of the Seacoast online story: seacoastonline.com
Thursday, August 1, 2013
County officials want to take over joint Geogia-S.C. port project
After more than five years of watching Georgia and South Carolina wrangle over a new seaport for the Savannah River, officials in Jasper County, S.C., where the proposed $3.3 billion cargo terminal would be built, want to try to takeover of the project.
Jasper County has been trying to put a shipping terminal on the river across from Savannah for more than 20 years. These efforts faced legal opposition by both states — which share the river and operate rival ports in Savannah and Charleston — until their governors agreed in 2007 to take on Jasper County's proposed port as a joint project.
So far, the board overseeing the partnership, comprised of port leaders from each state, has bought land for the shipping terminal and spent millions of dollars on feasibility studies. But progress has been slow, and local leaders say they're fed up.
Members of the Jasper County Council left the board's June meeting angry at what they considered another pointless delay. Earlier this month, the council voted to deliver an ultimatum. If the joint port board doesn't agree to start seeking construction permits for the project at its next meeting Sept. 17, then Jasper County will demand control of the port project and the 1,500 acres of land purchased for it.
"The people at the Joint Project Office just keep putting it off and putting it off," said Henry Etheridge, chairman of the Jasper County Council. "Turn it over to us, and let us get a private concern in there to go forward."
Jasper County ranks among South Carolina's poorest counties, with a per capita income of $17,162. Local officials have long seen a port terminal as key to the county's economic salvation.
Georgia and South Carolina have sought to control the project because they see an opportunity to expand their market share by attracting cargo that would otherwise go to competitors such as Norfolk, Va. The states also see potential to attract more trade with Asia. They say Jasper County would be able to handle up to 7 million containers of imports and exports each year, more than what now moves through Savannah and Charleston combined.
For more of the AP story: bigstory.ap.org
Virginia Port Authority votes in Wassmer as new board chair
Jeffrey Wassmer was voted in this week as the new chairman of the Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners, succeeding William Fralin Jr., who became chair in November to fulfill the unexpired term of Michael Quillen.
Wassmer is CEO of Newport News-based Spectrum, a defense contractor. His term as chairman extends through June 2017.
"In this last year we have really come through some things and it has been a total team effort," Wassmer said in a statement.
Over the past year, the authority board rejected two multibillion-dollar proposals to privatize container terminal operations and approved a reorganization of the authority and its terminal operating company, Virginia International Terminals. The VPA is also seeking an executive director to replace Jerry Bridges, who resigned last fall.
Wassmer will head a VPA that has expanded its powers to include those of an industrial development authority, thanks to legislation approved earlier this year by the General Assembly.
Among other things, the state agency can act as a bond-financing pipeline for companies building or expanding operations that rely on the port, said Rodney Oliver, the Port Authority's interim executive director, on Tuesday after an authority meeting.
"It enables us to issue debt on behalf of private entities at a cheaper rate than they could otherwise borrow," Oliver said.
Hong Kong's Hutchison Ports profits drop 5 percent
Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, announced that profit at the world's second-largest container-port operator fell 5 percent because of higher depreciation charges.
Earnings, before interest and taxes, was $445 million in the six months to June, Hutchison said in a Hong Kong stock exchange statement. The drop was mainly because of $23 million in depreciation charges, related to one new berth and expanded facilities in five terminals in Europe, Asia and Australia, the company said.
"The division is expected to maintain a steady performance for the remainder of the year and to resume growth in subsequent years as the new berths and ports reach fully operational status," Hutchison said in the statement.
Hutchison has interest in 52 ports worldwide from Panama to the Netherlands, and owns 28 percent of container port operations in Hong Kong and Shenzhen through Hutchison Port Holdings Trust.
Its container handling figures at Hong Kong fell 20 percent in the second quarter because a 40-day strike by dockworkers forced shipping lines to reroute vessels to nearby Chinese harbors.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
NYK Line to modify South Atlantic Chassis Pool provisions
NYK Line will implement a Chassis Provision Charge, effective September 2, for motor carrier transport moving under NYK Line import/export merchant haulage bills of lading when chassis from the South Atlantic Chassis Pool are used.
The CPC of $14.50 per chassis per day will be charged directly to motor carriers when chassis provided by NYK Line are used for motor transport not arranged by NYK Line (merchant haulage). The CPC does not apply when NYK Line arranges the motor transport (carrier haulage).
The South Atlantic Chassis Pool currently covers NYK Line nominated facilities in the following cities: Atlanta, Birmingham, Charleston, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Savannah, Tampa and Wilmington.
NACM credit manager's index falls
The National Association of Credit Management's Credit Managers' Index fell from its June high of 56.1 to 55.5 in July, led by a steep decline in collections, according to an association statement.
The "dollar collections" category moved from 59.3 to 57.5, down to some of the lowest readings of the past year that suggest there are some additional strains within the creditor community, the statement said. All of the other favorable factors declined as well, and the favorable index as a whole fell from 62.8 to 62.4.
Some favorable factors fell more than others. "Sales" is still in the 60s with a reading of 61.4, but this is lower than May or June. "New credit applications" retreated from 58.8 to 58.
"This is not a big drop and this month is still stronger than any of the previous months, except for May and June," said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D. "There is a slowing of credit interest but nothing that would suggest a mass reversal."
There was also some change and adjustment in the unfavorable index, which fell from 53 to 52.6, although some unfavorable categories saw improvement. "Rejections of credit applications" moved from 52.5 to 53.2, reinforcing the notion that there is still tolerance for risk in the credit community.
"Accounts placed for collection" slid just slightly from 53.9 to 53.6, which is essentially flat. "There is no real sense that there is a crisis in payments across the board," said Kuehl.
"Given that the national data has been pointing towards a slowing economy this is not too shocking," said Kuehl. "There are some clear areas of retreat, but just as important is the fact that there are some clear areas of growth and that provides some encouragement for the rest of the year."
Search for crew missing from sunken barge called off
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has called off the search for missing crewmembers from the capsized Mongolian-flagged barge Guo Liang 677.
The search went on for seven days, and MPA says they will continue to inform vessels passing through the areas to keep a lookout for the seven crew that are still missing.
The barge sank on 24 July in Singapore waters about seven nautical miles north of Horsburgh Lighthouse. In the search operations, two crew were rescued and one body was recovered.
For more of the SSN story: seashipnews.com