The Weekly Freight Report for April 15th, 2021
The Top 6 Stories in Freight
Here’s what’s happening this week:
- Canadian shippers beg feds to step into Montreal port dispute
- TEU bookings indicate summer will be ‘the hottest freight market on record’
- Mexico reclaims its place as the United States #1 trading partner
- New STB demurrage ruling will lead to better-invoicing transparency for shippers
- Hiked shipping prices continue to roll onto consumers
- Rail backlogs set back West Coast port stability
The hottest stories in freight can be found here, in the Weekly Freight Report:
1. Canadian shippers beg feds to step into Montreal port dispute
First, it was agricultural groups speaking up… now it’s Canadian manufacturers. It seems shippers of all industries are getting worried about further Montreal Port dispute escalations. And it serves them right if history tells us anything. Not even a year ago shippers were forced to divert cargo after a 19-day strike among longshore workers. And while there isn’t a strike (yet), shippers fear history could repeat itself if government intervention doesn’t happen sooner rather than later. Here’s what’s going on.
2. TEU bookings indicate summer will be ‘the hottest freight market on record’
U.S. maritime bookings hit an all-time high this week… signaling an extremely active summer for domestic transportation providers. For shippers, not only does this high demand for vessel space means claiming capacity will be difficult… It also means elevated shipping prices will continue throughout the summer. They’re saying this could be ‘the hottest market on record.’ Read up on the booking influx here.
3. Mexico reclaims its place as the United States #1 trading partner
IChina’s 10-month reign as the United State’s top trading partner came to an end in February. The U.S. exported $21 billion in goods to Mexico during February and imported $27.47 billion from Mexico during the same period, making it the U.S. leading trade partner. And while this is great for North America, cross-border disruptions created in 2020 continue to be an issue. As equipment shortages and increased border crossing times prevail, Spring will continue to challenge shippers. Get the full details here.
4. New STB demurrage ruling will lead to better-invoicing transparency for shippers
It’s a big win for shippers… They’re praising The Surface Transportation Board’s ruling that brings transparency and accountability to the demurrage billing process. Demurrage charges are the fees that the freight railroads assess when rail cars are detailed beyond a specific time to be loaded and unloaded. This has always been controversial in the past- as the charges are vague and undescriptive on invoices. But this ruling will change all that… and shippers will have more visibility into whether these charges are viable or not. Get all the details on the win here.
5. Hiked shipping prices continue to roll onto consumers
It’s like ‘playing a game of Whack-A-Mole’ says one business owner as he describes the shipping market. ‘You fix one problem and then another one pops up.’ Shipping costs have doubled in recent months… truckers are regularly missing appointments to pick up merchandise at warehouses… and a lack of parts is keeping production from meeting demand. And now these bottlenecks are resulting in jacked-up prices for consumers. For the foreseeable future, higher costs will be the norm for everyone- consumers and shippers alike. If there is any solace for shippers, it’s in knowing their competition is in the same boat. Read the full article here.
6. Rail backlogs set back West Coast port stability
As Los Angeles and Long-Beach port supply chains return to normal, experts say railcar availability is now the key to normality. Terminal operators say they’re not receiving enough rail cars to conquer backlogs plus handle the thousands of intermodal containers arriving weekly. Not to mention, rail container dwell times are double what they should be to support operations. The result? Some shippers have containers sitting at ports for up to 30 days. Here’s the plan to get more capacity to the ports.
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