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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Celebrating 30 years of compensating victims of oil pollution

By Anne Legars

After the Torrey Canyon (1967), Arrow (1970) and Irving Whale (1970) oil pollution disasters, the public demanded greater accountability for polluters whose ships caused oil pollution. At the time, there was no adequate mechanism to ensure victims of oil pollution would be compensated. This led to the creation of the Marine Pollution Claims Fund (MPCF), which was essentially a fund of last recourse.

In 1989, legislative amendments changed MPCF into the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF), making it a fund of first and last recourse for the victims of oil pollution damage from ship sources in Canadian waterways (including Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone), and aligning the Canadian regime to international conventions. (more…)