USA and Mexican Customs Improve Rail Processing at Laredo

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican Customs (Servicio de Administracion Tributaria/Aduana Mexico or SAT) last week formally dedicated a new center at Laredo, Texas to allow both agencies to more efficiently work together to process freight trains crossing the border, American Shipper reports.

The new facility, located close to the railhead of the Laredo International Rail Bridge, will allow Mexican Customs to complete its outbound inspections and CBP to perform inbound inspection processes simultaneously, eliminating delays and duplication while maintaining security and facilitating lawful commerce, CBP said.

Specifically, the agencies will share Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) security scanning images, conduct Mexico export processing at the U.S. railhead, streamline documentation review of northbound trains, and carry out joint inspections, when necessary, on inbound shipments.

“This project is essential to facilitate the goal of expanding trade and particularly increasing exports of goods such as refined petroleum products and petro-chemicals from the U.S. to Mexico,” said KCS President and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer.

In addition to petroleum and petro-chemicals, these trains carry large volumes of automobiles and parts, steel and grain.  The Laredo/Nuevo Laredo rail crossing is the busiest along the U.S.-Mexico border, processing on average 23 trains in both directions every 24 hours. According to CBP, northbound rail traffic alone at the border crossing has increased 16.5 percent in 2017 and is expected to continue growing.




Labor Dispute Led to Gothenburg Port Traffic Fall

Gothenburg’s container traffic went down  22 percent in the first half of 2017 to a 16-year low due to a bitter labor dispute at APM Terminals that is in its second year with no solution in sight, according to the Journal of Commerce.

The dispute between the operator, APMT, and section 4 of the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union began back in May 2016. It has continued despite the fact that APMT has signed and is a party to the industry’s collective agreement. The situation has led the government to take action and set up an enquiry to review labour market rules.  Repeated government efforts to end the dispute have been unsuccessful.

“The consequences for Swedish trade are immense, as several services to key market have been withdrawn, including direct services that are vital to both imports and exports,” said Magnus Karestedt, chief executive of the Gothenburg Port Authority.  “A great deal of freight has been shifted from sea to road, investments are failing to materialize, and jobs have disappeared. ”

The dispute has led to slowdowns, blockades, overtime bans and strikes by dockers while APM Terminals launched a partial six-week lock out earlier in the year and announced 160 dismissals in June.

The issue has grown so severe that ACL, which has served the port for 50 years, has publicly expressed doubts about whether it can continue to call there.

Repeated attempts by national mediators to resolve the dispute have failed, prompting the Swedish government to launch an enquiry to review the country’s labor market rules.

Gothenburg’s container traffic was already weakening before the dispute, dipping 3 percent in 2016 to 798,000 TEU from 820,000 TEU in 2015 despite new calls by larger vessels on the Asia-Europe trade. The port could end 2017 more than 300,000 TEU down from the 925,000 TEU handled in 2012.

Other cargoes have continued to increase, however, with first half roll-on, roll-off volume 7 percent higher at 291,000 units against 272,000 units a year earlier, automobile traffic up 14 percent to 137,000 from 121,000 and crude oil shipments increasing seven percent to 12 million tonnes.

 Stay informed via RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international ports.

South Brazilian Ports Reopen After Severe Weather

Itajai and several other south Brazilian ports are again open for business, according to the Journal of Commerce.

The container facilities at the Port of Itajai, both Portonave and AP Moeller Itajai and at Imbituba, Sao Francisco do Sul and Porto Itapoa, were closed to vessel calls from either late Thursday/early Friday before opening again Tuesday morning.  Strong waves of up four meters (13 feet) and winds clocking at more than 70 kilometers per hour (43.5 miles per hour) were reported.  The severe weather also closed the alternative Brazilian ports of Rio Grande to the south and Terminal de Containers de Paranagua to the north and disrupted shipping as far away as Argentina and Uruguay.

Seven vessels waited outside the Itajai port before it opened, Itajai Port Authority Executive Director Heder Cassiano Moritz told  At the port of Imbituba, four ships were waiting to enter from Sunday and were only allowed to berth this morning. There were none berthed when the port closed.

 Stay informed via RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international ports.

Congested Chittagong Port Limits number of Ship Calls

As the Journal of Commerce reports, the Chittagong port authority has imposed limits on the number of ships without cranes calling the port.

The Chittagong port authority  allows only seven gearless ships on services to and from the port compared with 12 previously.

The limit, which has cut gearless vessels’ wait times at the port’s outer anchorage from nearly 10 days to five, will remain in place until two ship-to-shore gantry cranes that were damaged in a June 25 accident are fixed. At the same time, ship agents said that the short notice given for the new limits could generate further delays as geared vessels, or those with cranes on board, need to be phased into shipping lines’ networks’ and goods must be unloaded from gearless vessels before reloading onto geared ones.

As the port scrambles to handle congestion in its waters, truck waits are mounting at the 17 inland container depots around the port.  Currently it take a truck at least three days to drop off a container.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.

Teamsters in Canada Ratify New Labor Contract

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – Conductors, Trainpersons and Yardpersons union that represents the company’s conductors and yard crews in Canada has ratified a new collective agreement with the company,  according the Canadian National Railway press release

The three-year agreement, which is  retroactive to July 23, 2016, provides wage increases and benefit improvements and covers approximately 3,000 conductors.

Mike Cory, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: “We are pleased to have completed this agreement with TCRC-CTY members. This agreement is testament to the benefits of relationship building and we look forward to continuing to foster this relationship moving forward. Together, we reached this agreement without a labour disruption allowing us to continue providing quality service to our customers.”


Brazil to End Maritime Shipping Agreement with Chile

Brazil’s Chamber of Foreign Trade (CAMEX)  has decided not to renew it’s exclusionary maritime shipping agreement with Chile, the American Shipper reports.

The arrangement between the countries currently gives two companies – Alianca, the Brazilian unit of Hamburg Sud, which is now owned by Maersk Line, and CSAV, the Chilean subsidiary of Hapag Lloyd AG – exclusive shipping rights between the two South American countries.

The agreement, which was established in 1975, expires in January 2020. After that point, the transport of goods between Chile and Brazil could be carried out on ships of any flag, which is expected to increase competition and reduce costs of shipping goods between the two nations.

A study by the Institute for Applied Economic Research, a Brazil-based economic think tank, previously found that the maritime pact ads five percent to the final price of products in both countries.

In an action related to dropping the exclusionary maritime shipping agreement, CAMEX  said it will extend waivers for roll-on, roll-off and breakbulk ships to one year from the current period of one month.

ILWU Vote Promises Three-Year Contract Extension at West Coast Ports

Early reports of election results indicate the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington have voted on a three-year contract extension with their employer, with indications that it will be passed.

A release from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said local unions were reporting the extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) would be approved by 67%, according to the Journal of Commerce.

The current  contract is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2019, but if ratified it will expire on July 1, 2022.  The contract at issue covers 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports handling nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade and more than 70 percent of the country’s imports from Asia.

 Stay informed via RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international shipping.

Additonal Measures to Improve Searfarers’ Working Conditions Adopted

The European Commission has adopted a proposal by its maritime social partners to improve the working conditions of seafarers on board EU-flagged vessels by updating the agreement of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), commonly referred to as the ‘seafarers bill of rights‘.

The MLC 2006 sets minimum requirements to improve seafarers’ working and living conditions including recruitment and placement practices, conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, repatriation, annual leave, payment of wages, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, occupational safety and health, medical care, onshore welfare services and social protection.

The proposal transforms an agreement between social partners in the maritime transport sector into EU law, according to the World Maritime News.

The proposal will ensure that seafarers are better protected against abandonment in foreign ports in the future, and will strengthen their rights to compensation in the event of death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard.

Additionally, the proposal will improve seafarers’ protection in the event of abandonment, including when the ship owner fails to pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months, or when the ship owner has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support to execute ship operations.

Furthermore, the proposal will also improve the mechanisms by which compensation is provided. This will make the payment of claims quicker and easier, which will help avoid the long delays in payment and red tape that seafarers or their families frequently encounter in case of abandonment or in case of death or long-term disability.

The European Maritime Social Partners warmly welcomed the EC’s adoption of the proposal.


Mundra Intermodal Rail Services Back to Normal

State-owned intermodal operator Container Corporation of India (Concor) announced it is accepting freight bookings for the Mundra port following the interruption of service due to flooding from heavy monsoon rains, the Journal of Commerce reports.

Flooding and mudslides had caused damage to rail infrastructure in and around Ahmedabad, an intersection of the western corridor, forcing hinterland shippers to divert cargo to other west coast ports such as Pipavav and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.

In a separate notice, Concor said the launch of its new train services linking Mundra and Pipavav to the Jakhwada Inland Container Depot, near Ahmedabad, that was planned for Aug. 1 has been rescheduled to Aug. 22 in the wake of current operational limitations.

Intermodal rail lifts from the country’s vast northern hinterlands, including Delhi, Rajasthan, and Ludhiana, are a key contributor to Mundra’s throughput growth

In the meantime, APM Terminals Mumbai at JNPT, which also had to work through monsoon related complications, has returned to normal gate in-and-out operations, with no truck congestion reported in the past three days, according to updates issued by trade groups.


Barge delayes at port of Rotterdam and Antwerp continues with no sign of relief

Shippers say they feel powerless over the barge congestion crisis in northern Europe, as Loadstar reports.

According to the Dutch barge operator Contargo,  barges were waiting up to five days for container loading and unloading and delays of five to seven days had become increasingly frequent, with peak periods seeing even more severe congestion.  The delays to barge services in port of Rotterdam and Antwerp is “the consequence of a number of factors, including a shortage of dock labour and handling capacity as a result of rising volumes of shipping”.

In the wake of the ongoing congestion, several barge operators have implemented surcharges. If the situation has not improved by the end of August, Contargo said it will have to extend the congestion surcharge.

The port of Antwerp has formed a committee to tackle the severe barge congestion hampering major European container gateways.  The committee includes representatives from shipping companies, terminal and barge operators, shippers, forwarders, Voka/Alfaport, Antwerp Port Authority and the Flemish government.

Inland waterways account for an increasing volume of Europe’s hinterland traffic- including containers- due to a shortage of rail capacity and moves by governments to reduce transport by road for environmental reasons.

Please be guided accordingly.  RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide more updates once available.