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.

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…)

‘Outdated’ U.S. intermodal infrastructure is letting us down, claim farmers and exporters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

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…)

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…)

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…)