COSCO Shipping Lines to commence service from Port of Montreal

After a record year marked by a 9 per cent increase in the number of containers transiting through the port of Montreal, Montreal Port Authority (MPA) welcomes COSCO Shipping Lines which, starting in April, will connect Montreal with several northern European cities, such as Antwerp, Bremerhaven, Le Havre and Liverpool. COSCO Shipping Lines’ containers will be handled at the terminals of Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership.

“We welcome the arrival of COSCO Shipping Lines. This excellent news reaffirms the Port of Montreal’s place as the preferred gateway for freight transport between Europe and North America’s industrial heartland,” said MPA President and CEO Sylvie Vachon.

Shippers must share the financial impact on carriers of IMO 2020 compliance

By Mike Wackett in Long Beach

The implications for carriers and BCOs of the IMO low-sulphur regulations that come into force in less than ten months have dominated February’s JOC TPM Conference in Long Beach. Normally the annual event, this is the 19th, marks the start of annual contract rate negotiations on the transpacific, but this year the spectre of IMO 2020, and  how the greener fuel is to be paid for, has overshadowed all other topics. Shippers have admitted to not trusting the carriers, which know they must recover these costs, which could add up to $15 billion a year for the industry. (more…)

Scrubber debate heats up as EC calls on IMO to restrict their use

By Mike Wackett

The pro-scrubber Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 has strongly criticized the EC for urging the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to restrict the use of open-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) in ports around the world. But vessels fitted with scrubbers are in high demand and at least a third of newbuild vessels will have them, enabling the ships to continue to consume cheaper, higher-sulphur fuel. Under its 0.5 per cent sulphur cap on fuel used by ships from 1 January 2020, IMO currently approves the use of both open-loop scrubbers, where wash water is discharged back into the ocean, and closed loop systems, where the water is retained for disposal at a suitable port facility. The EC has submitted an “evaluation and harmonization” proposal for consideration at IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74), due to meet in London in May. (more…)

As automation advances, transport workers must be helped to develop new skills

By Alexander Whiteman

Governments and industry must ensure access to the skills of the future, as automation and artificial intelligence reshape the transport sector, urges a new report. More than 168 million people work in transport worldwide, with 87 per cent making up the low (15 per cent) and medium (72 per cent) skilled workforce. Jens-Uwe Schroder-Hinrichs, of the World Maritime University (WMU), said it would be these workers most affected by change. However, he added: “The pace of introduction of these new technologies will not be as fast as some publications have reported. (more…)

CMA CGM unveils billion-dollar cost-cutting plan as profits tumble

By Alex Lennane

CMA CGM is to attempt to shave $1.2 billion off its costs as it consolidates its position following acquisitions. The French carrier announced the plan as it revealed its 2018 results, which saw record revenues of $23.5 billion, up 11.2 per cent. This, however, translated into a pre-tax profit of $167.7 million, down from $800.7 million a year earlier. Operating expenses rose from $18.9 billion to $22.3 billion, while core EBIT was $610.4 million, down from $1.57 billion, following a 33 per cent increase in fuel prices. Volumes in TEUs were up 9.3 per cent and the line added: “Despite an increase in oil prices, our recurring EBIT margin remains considerably above the industry average.” (more…)

‘Outdated’ U.S. intermodal infrastructure is letting us down, claim farmers and exporters

By Alexander Whiteman

A coalition of U.S. farmers and their forwarders claims the country’s logistics infrastructure is “inadequate” and domestic business is losing out to imports. Board member of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) Donna Lemm told a Senate Committee hearing that failing intermodal transport threatened the U.S. economy. “All over the country we are faced with bottlenecks, delays and handcuffs in our ability to execute within the supply chain,” she said. (more…)

Tumbling Asia-to-U.S. rates could hamper carriers in contract renewal talks

By Mike Wackett

Container spot rates from Asia to the U.S. are sliding fast, with the early March Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) recording a further 10 per cent drop for the U.S. west coast and 7 per cent for east coast ports.

With new annual contract negotiations about to begin in earnest, transpacific carriers hoping to secure a 20 per cent+ rate hike from BCOs will need a very convincing pitch, and get meetings booked early, before rates tumble even further. Due to a positive impact on rates from the front-loading of cargo in the latter part of last year, designed to beat the threatened imposition of a new 25 per cent duty on a wide range of consumer goods, spot rates are still above the level of a year ago. The U.S. west coast component of the SCFI stands at $1,549 per 40ft, 23 per cent higher than 12 months ago, with the rate for the U.S. east coast at $2,640 per 40ft, 11 per cent ahead. (more…)

Logistics set up for ‘a fall of catastrophic proportions’ in a no-deal Brexit

By Alexander Whiteman

Panic is setting in among UK logistics operators as the country approaches its departure from the European Union. With just 17 working days between now and the scheduled 29 March withdrawal, industry associations are expressing “deep concern” at the lack of preparedness. The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has warned that logistics operators may find themselves liable for difficulties arising from a no-deal withdrawal. It said: “Given the likelihood of customs clearance delays following a hard Brexit, it could be argued that such delays are both expected and thus could be avoided.” (more…)

Research “ping” points bridge-crossing delays

By Keith Norbury

Most of the goods traded between Canada and the U.S., still one of the world’s leading trading partnerships, crosses the border in trucks. And most of those trucks pass over three bridges straddling two rivers connecting the Great Lakes of Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Until recently, however, little was known about long it takes trucks to cross the border. That all changed recently when researchers at the University of Windsor’s Traffic Lab obtained GPS data from nearly 400,000 border crossings by about 60,000 trucks owned by 750 companies. The researchers crunched the data, millions of GPS “pings” in total, to reveal details about how long they waited at the border at different times of the day and year as well as their directions of travel. (more…)

Canada stuck in middle of elephantine clash of civilizations

Canada stuck in middle of elephantine clash of civilizations

By Keith Norbury

When two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Jia Wang, Deputy Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, invokes that African proverb to describes Canada’s position in a tariff turf war between the world’s economic elephants — China and the U.S. “In a way, Canada is like that grass,” said Ms. Wang, who was born and raised in China but has been a Canadian resident for 16 years. “It’s caught in between these big global economic superpowers and if for some reason the trade situation worsens, I think on balance it’s not going to be good for Canada.” (more…)

Canada-China relations the worst since Tiananmen

Canada-China relations the worst since Tiananmen

By Keith Norbury

The trade relationship between Canada and China is the worst it’s been in decades, according to experts who have studied the machinations of trade between the two nations. “No doubt, Canada-China relations are at a very low point,” said Jia Wang, Deputy Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. “Probably one of the lowest points since the Tiananmen incident in 1989.”

The impetus for the deteriorating relationship was the arrest in Vancouver of a senior executive with state-owned Chinese electronics giant Huawei. Meng Wanzhou, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, has been in custody since her arrest on December 1 at the behest of the United States Department of Justice. The U.S. is seeking to extradite her on charges that a Huawei subsidiary allegedly committed bank and wire fraud charges that violated sanctions against Iran. On March 1, the Canadian government announced it would hold an extradition hearing. (more…)

Opinion – Let’s think carefully about the future of Canada’s Defence industries

Opinion – Let’s think carefully about the future of Canada’s Defence industries

Theo van de Kletersteeg

Prime Minister Trudeau is trying to pull Canada out of a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, he said on several occasions near the end of 2018, following allegations that suggest Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince was implicated in the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. “We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” he told CTV, without elaborating. The deal, worth US$14 billion over 14 years, if all options are exercised, and including spare parts, support and training, would supply the Saudi military with light armoured vehicles (LAVs) manufactured by General Dynamics Canada Land Systems Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. General Dynamics Corporation. The contract is the largest Defence export contract Canada has ever entered into. The PM’s comments represent an evolution in Ottawa’s stance toward Saudi Arabia. In March of 2018, he defended the deal for the armoured vehicles, saying that honouring the contract, which was made under a previous government, “fully meets our national obligations and Canadian laws.” Canada’s arms export laws prevent the sale of weapons to countries that “pose a threat to Canada and its allies, that are involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities, that are under United Nations Security Council sanctions; or whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” The last provision includes an exemption for countries where “it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.” (more…)