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The congestion at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has been going on for at least two months, but no one expected it to last this long, and no one anticipates an immediate fix – gridlocked docks possibly threatens holiday season. By Deborah Belgum
For nearly two weeks now, Ram Kundani has been waiting to receive seven cargo containers filled with tops, sweaters and dresses shipped from Bangladesh, China and Indonesia to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But some 10 days after their arrival, the containers on Oct. 21 were still stacked on container vessels as gridlocked docks made it difficult to unload the big metal boxes.
Around this time last year, Aeromax Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sean Schipper could count on getting his toy products shipped from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to his Lake Barrington, Ill., business in seven to 10 days.
But because of recent congestion at the twin ports, it’s taking twice as long — or in some cases three times as long — to get merchandise delivered to the toy wholesaler, which does nearly $5 million in annual gross sales selling children’s costumes and toys.
“U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $100.6 billion in August 2014 as all five major transportation modes – air, vessel, pipeline, rail, and trucks – carried more U.S.-NAFTA freight than in August 2013, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). August was the sixth consecutive month with U.S.-NAFTA freight flows exceeding $100 billion.”
Contract negotiations between shippers and 20,000 dockworkers at West Coast ports are progressing toward a tentative agreement in November, the head of the largest harbor said.
Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said he speaks daily with negotiators for both sides on a new accord for ports from San Diego to Bellingham, Washington, which together handle almost half of all U.S. maritime trade.
“American Trucking Associations’advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was unchanged in September, following a gain of 1.6% the previous month. In September the index equaled 132.6 (2000=100), the same as in August and a record high. Compared with September 2013, the SA index increased 3.7%, down from August’s 4.5% year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage is up 3.2%.”
Lines offering Asia to US services will further ramp up charges in the coming weeks by introducing new ‘intermodal door delivery charges’.
Most member lines of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement will start charging customers US$100 per FEU and USD$90 per TEU on all cargo moving under ‘intermodal store-door delivery through rates’ from Asia to the US.
Global Trade magazine named MIQ Logistics one of America’s Top 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) and one of the Top 10 providers in its Most Versatile category in their September/October 2014 issue.
Asia-U.S. container lines, still heavily reliant on intermodal service, have now been forced to respond with intermodal door delivery charges to recover those costs.
Congested U.S. port terminals, harbor and over-the-road truck and driver shortages, slower trains and longer rail terminal dwell times due to increased domestic rates have not only disrupted service but also driven intermodal rates and cargo handling costs up sharply.
The Port of Los Angeles in September saw its busiest month in eight years, as larger cargo ships called at the port and retailers rushed in goods for the holiday season. The port said cargo volume — including imports, exports and empty containers — rose 9% from a year earlier. The 775,133 container units that passed through the port last month were the most since August 2006. Imports increased 11%, while exports rose just 0.2%, the port said this week.