Import retail shipping traffic at major U.S. ports shot up 23 percent in August, compared with year ago levels, and should continue to rise in the coming months due to improvements in the U.S. economy, according to a report by the National Retail Federation research firm Hackett Associates.
U.S. ports handled 1.42 million [TEUs] in August, the latest month for which data is available, a rise of 3 percent compared with July.
The Global Port Tracker report estimated the number of [TEUs] handled in U.S. ports had risen by 20 percent year-on-year in September and would rise by 11 percent over year-ago levels in October. (See table below)
The report also said that the peak import season, when retailers stock for the holiday season, shifted to August in 2010, a month earlier than usual.
"This came because retailers imported goods earlier than usual and the decline we expect in the coming months is only a seasonal downturn," Hackett added.
CSX Q3 expected earnings adds to 2010’s good news for railroads
Warren Buffett called his railroad purchase last year an "all-in wager on the economic future of the United States." He probably should have included China, too.
Trade volumes driven by emerging markets, and China in particular, have helped make this a pretty good year so far for rail activity. U.S. carload volumes are now just 11.2% below their April 2008 peak, according to Avondale Partners.
"Intermodal" shipments, when a container is moved by different modes of transport such as rail and ship, have done even better. They are off only 2.4% from their peak, thanks to strong Asian trade volumes.
That is expected to bolster third-quarter results Tuesday from rail giant CSX Corp. It is the first of the major railway companies to release earnings and usually sets the tone for the sector.
Analysts expect CSX will report earnings of $1.04 a share, according to Thomson Reuters, up from 74 cents a year ago, and revenue of about $2.6 billion, up 16%.
The CSX Railroad, the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) celebrated the opening of the Liberty Corridor Freightway on October 8.
The expanded double-stack rail corridor is a public-private partnership designed to improve the flow of intermodal freight between the port authority and inland destinations.
The construction of the Liberty Corridor Freightway was reportedly a logistically complex undertaking that raised the clearance of two tunnels in New Jersey to accommodate double stack freight trains.
One tunnel, which dates from the administration of Abraham Lincoln, passes through over 4,000 feet of dense rock directly beneath Jersey City, N.J.
"The Liberty Corridor Freightway builds our partnership with the port and region by enabling us to more efficiently move intermodal freight," said Clarence W. Gooden, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, CSX.
"This project prepares us, and the region, for continued growth as a leading freight hub," Gooden said.
Ag exporting nations finding more opportunities through currency devaluations
Exporting nations like the United States are finding that weaker currency spells stronger trade opportunities. That is, if their monetary moves don't first lead to a trade war, said two Purdue University agricultural economists.
At least three major exporting countries -- the United States, China and Japan -- have made direct or indirect moves to depreciate their currencies, which might make their exported goods less expensive in foreign markets. Brazil could soon follow suit.
The United States likely will see record agricultural exports in the year ahead, said Philip Abbott and Chris Hurt. For the year to date, the United States is running a $600 billion trade deficit.
Some nations view weak exchange rates as a way to stimulate export activity and, thus, their general economies, the economists said. It could backfire, however, if more countries jump on the currency devaluation bandwagon, they added.
The World Trade Organization does not specifically prohibit currency manipulation, although some trade experts consider it a form of export subsidy, which is forbidden by the WTO, Abbott said.
The U.S. dollar has lost 40 percent of its value since 2002. In just the past three weeks alone -- and more significant, Abbott said -- the European euro gained about 16 cents in value to the dollar. One euro is now worth about $1.40.
Japan attempted to weaken its yen, to bolster its exports and overall economy. The Japanese cut short-term interest rates to zero percent and long-term rates to 1 percent. The island nation also sold yen and purchased U.S. dollars on the open market.
China has utilized a weak yuan for years as an economic development strategy, Abbott said. Beijing purchases U.S. Treasury bills with its export surplus as an investment instrument, in part because it lacks investment alternatives within China's domestic economy, he said.
European nations now face a strong euro and could begin taking steps to weaken that currency. Should multiple nations employ that strategy simultaneously, it could lead to an environment conducive to trade-killing tariffs, Abbott said.
A Japanese-operated cargo ship has been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Kenya, said Ecoterra, an advocacy group that monitors piracy off the east African coast.
Here is a list of ships under the control of Somali pirates:
* SOCOTRA 1: Seized on Dec. 25, 2009. The Yemeni-owned ship was captured in the Gulf of Aden after it left the port of Alshahr in Yemen. There were six Yemeni crew on board.
* AL NISR AL SAUDI: Seized on March 1, 2010. The Saudi-owned 5,136-dwt tanker was on its way from Japan to Jeddah with one Greek and 13 Sri Lankan crew members.
* ICEBERG 1: Seized on March 29. Pirates boarded the roll-on roll-off vessel 10 miles outside the port of Aden. The ship carried 24 crew.
* AL-BARARI: Seized on March 31. The small Indian trade boat was captured after it left Mogadishu port, having unloaded food and medicine there. It carried a crew of 11.
* SAMHO DREAM: Seized on April 4. The 319,000-dwt Samho Dream was en route to the United States from Iraq when it was hijacked 970 miles east of the Somali coast. The Marshall Islands-registered ship is South Korean-owned, had a crew of five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos and carried 2 million barrels of crude oil. On April 21, Somali pirates threatened to blow up the supertanker unless a $20 million ransom was paid.
* RAK AFRIKANA: Seized on April 11. The St Vincent and the Grenadines-flagged 7,561-dwt cargo ship was hijacked about 280 nautical miles west of the Seychelles. The ship is owned by Seychelles' Rak Afrikana Shipping Ltd.
* Three Thai fishing vessels -- PRANTALAY 11, 12 and 14 -- were hijacked on April 17-18 with a total of 77 crew.
* VOC DAISY: Seized on April 21. The Panama-flagged bulk ship with a crew of 21 Filipinos was captured 190 miles southeast of the Omani port of Salalah.
* AL-DHAFIR: Seized on May 7. The Yemeni fishing boat was seized off the coast of Yemen with a crew of seven fishermen.
* MARIDA MARGUERITE: Seized on May 8. The chemical tanker en route from Kandla in Gujarat to Antwerp in Belgium was hijacked some 150 miles south of Salalah off the Gulf of Aden with crew of 22 -- 19 Indians, two Bangladeshis and one Ukrainian.
* ELENI P: Seized on May 12. The Liberia-flagged and Greek-owned ship, carrying iron and sailing from Ukraine to China via Singapore was seized in the Gulf of Aden. Of the 24 people on board, two were Greeks and the rest Filipinos.
* GOLDEN BLESSING: Seized on June 28. The 2010-built, 14,445-dwt Singapore-registered chemical tanker was seized on its way from Saudi Arabia to India when it was boarded off East Africa. The ship had 19 Chinese sailors onboard.
* MOTIVATOR: Seized on July 4. A 13,065-dwt tanker, hijacked in the Red Sea, was manned by 18 Filipino crew and carrying lubricating oil. It is Marshall Islands-flagged. * SUEZ: Seized on Aug. 2. The Panama-flagged cargo ship was attacked and hijacked in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden. The ship was carrying cement bags and has a crew of 23 from Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.
* OLIB G: Seized on Sept. 8: The Maltese-flagged merchant vessel was seized while sailing west in the IRTC. The ship carried 18 crew -- 15 Georgians and 3 Turks.
* LUGELA: Seized on Sept. 25/26: The Greek-operated 4,281-dwt cargo ship had a crew of 12 Ukrainians on board. It was sailing in the direction of Mauritius with a cargo of steel bars and wires.
* ASPHALT VENTURE: Seized on Sept. 29: The 3,884-dwt bitumen carrier was heading to Durban from the Kenyan port of Mombasa. It carried a crew of 15, all Indians. Maritime advocacy group Ecoterra International said the ship was managed by Mumbai-based Omci Ship Management Pvt and owned by Bitumen Invest AS of United Arab Emirates.
* FENG-GUO 168: Seized on Oct. 7: Fishing vessel, believed to be Taiwanese, seized 200 nautical miles north of Mauritius. The vessel had 14 crew members.
* IZUMI: Seized on Oct. 10: The Izumi, operated by NYK-Hinode Line Ltd, carried a 20-strong crew from the Philippines. The Panama-flagged ship was en route to Mombasa. It was carrying a cargo of steel.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
APM exec: Mature global ports face cost competition
Operators of container ports in the world's mature economies face "very strong cost competition" because of a combination of excess capacity and slowing growth rates, the chief executive of one of the sector's biggest operators has said.
Kim Fejfer, of APM Terminals, was speaking amid growing evidence that this year's sharp rebound in container shipping is slowing down.
APM Terminals, the terminals arm of Denmark's AP Møller-Maersk, is the second-biggest container terminal operator by throughput, after Hong Kong's Hutchison Ports.
Mr Fejfer said the industry had entered a "new normal", where the regular double-digit growth before the economic crisis was replaced by two-speed growth in mature and emerging markets.
Mature markets were likely to see annual growth of about 2 percent, while emerging markets would see about 7 percent annually.
Port congestion - a feature of the industry's 2002 to 2007 boom - was returning in the fastest-growing emerging markets, Mr Fejfer said.
However, mature markets' sluggish growth meant there was excess capacity in many ports, including the port of New York/New Jersey, the US's third-busiest container port, and Antwerp, Europe's third-busiest container port.
Among the fast-growing ports where Mr Fejfer said growth was causing congestion were Santos in Brazil, St Petersburg in Russia, Mumbai in India and Vietnam's ports.
The big barges and small cruise ships are almost a surreal sight as they sail past dun-colored farm fields and bare hills in the arid landscape of the inland Northwest.
But sail they do, to the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, through a breathtakingly deep valley carved by the Snake River, to Idaho's only seaport.
The Port of Lewiston is the inland most seaport on the West Coast, more than 400 miles from the Pacific Ocean. A series of dams and locks completed on the Snake in 1975 allow ocean-based commerce to be conducted here, and in two nearby ports in Washington.
But business has dropped sharply at the port, to 1970s levels, just in the past year, prompting longtime critics to suggest that the port -- which gets about 20 percent of its $2.29 million annual budget from local property taxes -- may not be economically viable in the future.
The chief critics are environmental groups which have been fighting for years to have the four Snake River dams breached because they contend the structures have decimated wild salmon runs.
Port director David Doeringsfeld said the number of ships calling on Portland -- where cargo from Lewiston is transferred to oceangoing vessels -- has been down the past couple of years because of the worldwide recession, and that hurts his ability to ship.
Caterpillar opening logistics center in Suzhou, China
Caterpillar Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Caterpillar Logistics Services Inc. is opening a new 9,000 square-meter Logistics Center in Suzhou, China, in order to strengthen its manufacturing footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S.-based machinery company said the facility would provide inbound logistics support to its manufacturing operations in Asia, as well as supporting Caterpillar's goods movement in and out of China in order to support its global production.
The new logistics center will employ approximately 50 full-time employees, the company said.
Caterpillar said the latest development is part of a series of strategic investments "to tap the growing Chinese market."
Union Pacific launches door-to-door ad campaign
Union Pacific's first national advertising campaign in nearly a decade illustrates the company's door-to-door shipping logistics expertise. It is the most comprehensive ad campaign in Union Pacific's 148-year history to specifically target new business growth. Television, print and online ads are supported by the tagline, "Wherever you find business, you'll find us." The campaign launches October 13.
"Every day, customers in every industry take advantage of Union Pacific's logistics expertise," said Jim Young, Union Pacific chairman and CEO.
"We coordinate the efficiency of America's rail network with the flexibility of trucks and the reach of ocean carriers. No matter what they ship, or where they need to ship, we get it there."
A Greek tanker carrying aircraft fuel and a Cypriot container ship have collided some 30 kilometres off the coast of Scheveningen.
The collision has left a hole up to five metres long in the side of the Mindoro, which leaked kerosene into the sea for a time, the Telegraaf reports.
But part of the fuel in the damaged tank has now been pumped into another part of the hold, the paper says. Most of the leaked fuel has evaporated and what has ended up in the sea will also evaporate, a spokesman for the coast guard said
The tanker will probably be towed off later today.
The container ship Jork Ranger, which received some damage to its bow, was given official permission to continue on to Rotterdam.
U.S. import prices in September dropped 0.3 percent, slightly more than expected, the Department of Labor said Wednesday.
Economists expected prices would fall 0.2 percent following a 0.6 percent rise in August.
Import prices have wavered through the year, rising compared to the previous month in January, March, April, July and August, falling in February, May, June, and now again in September.
The decline in import prices was led by fuel imports. Petroleum prices fell 3.1 percent in the month, while natural gas prices dropped 4.4 percent.
In September, export prices rose 0.6 percent, following an 0.8 percent rise last month. Among exports, agricultural export prices rose 2.4 percent in the month, while prices for non-agricultural exports rose 0.3 percent.
As Burma’s military generals rebuff international concerns over the legitimacy of their November elections, neighbor Thailand is already eyeing mammoth post-election plans to boost trade with the pariah state.
Following a trip to Burma, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said this week that a deal has been signed for Thai firms to build a deep-sea port in Dawei, formerly known as Tavoy, a city in southeastern Burma that could become part of an economic zone.
Amid the election concerns, Thailand and Burma have agreed to jointly develop a deep-sea port at Dawei on Burma's Andaman Sea coast linked to a new economic zone, Abhisit said, according to Thai media.
An agreement signed during the trip includes construction of 100-mile (160-kilometer) road and rail links between Kanchanaburi in western Thailand and the Dawei port, as well as a special economic zone to be built on a 100,000-acre (40,500-hectare) plot near the port, reports said.
The projects are expected to cost billions of dollars and could be the largest single investment in Burma, which has faced years of international sanctions due to its military rule.
Thailand is currently the largest investor in Burma, with interests totaling U.S $7.41 billion between 1988 and 2008.
French unions extended a rail strike into a second day and blockaded oil refineries in protest at pension reforms on Wednesday, but there were signs the stoppages could be losing steam as broad participation wavered.
With the bill due to be approved within days by the Senate, President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government stood firm on its flagship reform, despite a national strike on Tuesday which brought more than a million marchers onto the streets.
Union leaders said local meetings throughout France on Wednesday voted almost unanimously in favor of extending the stoppage in the state railway sector, the bedrock of the protests. But they acknowledged turnout had fallen.
Alaska’s main cargo port works to minimize habitat issues amid $1 bil expansion plans
The Port of Anchorage has said it is working closely with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service during its expansion to minimize risks on the marine environment.
The estimated $1 billion expansion will allow the port to accommodate larger container and cruise ships, barges, and tankers, and will enhance intermodal transportation systems.
Concerns have been raised that the expansion project is taking place in the habitat of the endangered beluga whale. Belugas reside in Cook Inlet year round.
As part of the expansion marine mammal monitoring is required during all in-water construction activities for the Port of Anchorage Intermodal Expansion Project (PIEP).
Civilian cargo plane crashes near Kabul; eight perish
The Afghan National Army says six Filipinos, one Indian national, and a Kenyan were killed on October 12 when a cargo plane crashed outside Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.
The U.S.-based company operating the aircraft, National Air Cargo, said the cargo transport plane went down shortly after it left the U.S. Bagram Air Base when it hit a mountain some 30 kilometers east of Kabul.
AFMS Logistics Management Group, a shipping consultant to retailers and other shippers, has filed a complaint in federal court charging United Parcel Service of America Inc. and FedEx Corp. of antitrust violations by refusing to work with AFMS and similar firms to revise rate contracts on behalf of shipping clients.
AFMS, based in Portland, OR, charges that UPS and FedEx have "induced and persuaded" shippers not to deal with it, and that UPS and FedEx have threatened to raise the rates of any shipping clients who share their shipping data with outside consultants for the purpose of seeking re-negotiated rates from the two carriers.
UPS will vigorously defend itself against the AFMS complaint, a spokeswoman says. "Our take is that the lawsuit is trying to require UPS to deal with its customers through an intermediary-and that only adds costs for our customers," she says.
Long Beach and L.A. box traffic dips from August's robust numbers; well up over previous year
Containerized shipping traffic in September at the two biggest U.S. box ports posted significant gains over the same period last year, but dipped from August's numbers.
The Port of Long Beach reported handling 574,790 TEUs, a 30.5 percent gain over the same period in 2009, of which 288,905 TEUs were imported - a 28.4 percent gain over last year. The month's export containers were up 13.4 percent over last year at 124,021 TEUs.
Long Beach's total box numbers dropped 6 percent from August.
The neighboring Port of Los Angeles recorded 711,613 TEUs handled in September, a decline from the previous month's 763,837 TEUs, but an almost 22 percent gain from the same month in 2009. The port's inbound containers were up 20.76 percent over September of 2009 at 373,249 TEUs, with export boxes barely inching up over the previous year at 139,800 TEUs - a .34 percent gain.
Both ports are posting significant overall containerized gains year to date over 2009, with Los Angeles up 18.4 percent at 5,869,895 TEUs and Long Beach ahead 12.4 percent at 5,936,066 TEUs.
Port of Savannah posts 20 percent box increase
The Georgia Ports Authority's container port at Savannah reported an over 20-percent gain in container traffic for the first three months of its 2011 fiscal year from July through September over the previous period last year with 742,637 TEUs handled.
The port authority said it surpassed its previous pre-recession record from the first quarter of its 2008 fiscal year of 718,251 TEUs.
CMA CGM launches new service with CSAV
French shipping group CMA CGM announced the launch of its New Victory Bridge service between North Europe, the U.S. South Atlantic, Mexico and the U.S. Gulf.
The new service, effective October 17, is in partnership with Chile's CSAV and will deploy five 3,000-TEU vessels, of which CMA CGM will provide three of the ships, and its partner, two.
The service was formerly a partnership between CMA CGM and MSC.
The port rotation of the New Victory Bridge service will be: Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Charleston, Miami, Vera Cruz, Altamira, Houston, Miami, Le Havre.
The ports of Savannah and Felixstowe had been part of the previous rotation, and will now be served through CMA CGM's Round-The-World and Liberty Bridge services, the shipping line said.
French police move to open fuel depots amid port and refinery strike
French police moved in to open fuel depots to release oil supplies blocked by strikers as walkouts at ports and refineries across the nation shut down crude imports and sparked shortages at filling stations.
Police ordered protesters to lift barricades at a depot in Fos-sur-Mer near Marseille today to let trucks deliver fuel, a spokeswoman for the Prefecture des Bouches-du-Rhone said. Two other depots were also cleared, including one near Bordeaux, while others remain blocked, the CGT union said.
A "few hundred" service stations are experiencing fuel shortages out of about 12,000 nationwide, according to Alexandre de Benoist, head of the Independent Fuel Importers Union, whose members are supermarkets with fuel outlets. "It's enough to create worry among consumers and push some into panic-buying."
Refinery and oil terminal workers have extended a strike over plans to raise the pension age and a dispute in Marseille over a port overhaul. A wider walkout this week disrupted transport, schools, power supplies and public services and is now largely confined to the fuel and ports sectors.