New Customs Strike Threat at Santos from November 1st

Shippers and port users in Santos are preparing themselves for delays and extra storage costs as customs officers in the port go on strike yet again, according to a report in the Journal of Commerce.

Members of Sindifisco, the union for Receita Federal (customs) officers in Brazil, voted last week  to carry out a “zero-clearance operation” starting October 16 that will grow into a full-blow strike from November 1st if their demands are not met,

Sindifisco claims that the government of Michel Temer, which is trying to introduce market reforms and slash the state budget, has not kept the promises it made earlier this year regarding wage increases, making a strike the only means of redress.  Brasilia says it has not reneged on the agreements, but that their implementation must take place in 2019 and 2020 rather than 2018 and 2019 in order to help balance Brazil’s finances.

The union said that they will continue to clear “essential” cargoes such as medicine and hospital supplies, live animals, and food for vessel crews. The slowdown will leave an extra 3,000 containers on the Santos quay each day and cause clearance times to jump to between three and five days rather than the average 24 hours, according to the union.

In practice, say Santos insiders, the customs officers will probably clear about 30 percent of all containerized cargoes. In addition to longer clearance times, expensive storage costs also begin to accrue during these disruptions.

Please be guided accordingly. RCL Agencies will provide more updates once available.

FMC Updates Agreement Filing Review Process

The Federal Maritime Commission has announced that it has revised the process for reviewing maritime agreements filed by container carriers and marine terminals in response to industry trends.

Under the law, the FMC has 45 days to consider a filed agreement and either reject it or allow it to go into effect. However, the Commission states that it is receiving agreements of increased complexity or of a nature not previously seen.

Currently, the commission reviews each agreement or amendment filing by moving it through the relevant office and bureau staff in a “sequential” review process. With these agreements becoming increasingly complex, there’s a risk for delay and rushing at the end to meet the 45-day deadline to finish the review.

The goal for the new review methodology is to allow the FMC staff to make its recommendations with regards to the filed agreements and amendments to the commissioners for their consideration two weeks before the end of the 45-day review period.

Under the proposed new agreement review process, the FMC will immediately publish the agreement filing in the Federal Register to ensure the industry is aware of the agreement and has adequate time to file comments with the commission.  Internally, the commission will hold a meeting of representatives from all the bureaus and offices, including the commissioners’ staff, to introduce the filed agreement and immediately start the review process across the agency.

The FMC will also reach out to the agreement’s filing counsel, if necessary, during the 45-day review cycle to address any concerns with specific terms or conditions in the agreement.

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.




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.

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.

Congestion Worsens at Chittagong Port

Severe congestion in Bangladesh’s prime seaport Chittagong has crippled loading and unloading,  the Journal of Commerce reports.

The container vessels are experiencing a delay of maximum 10-11 days in receiving berthing permission. The turnaround time or ships’ stay time at the port is also increasing, according to IHS Markit data. The congestion began to mount in April, when average time in port was 62.7 hours, and jumped in May to 67 hours. Each day an average of 15 to 20 box ships waits at the outer anchorage for unloading.

Stakeholders attribute the congestion largely to the lack of adequate infrastructure at the port.  No jetty has been constructed in the last nine years despite that the cargo and container handling has grown  16% to 17%  for the past few years.

The loss of nearly 2 meters (6.6 feet) in draft has only made matter worse. Six of the 13 jetties at the port are in the range of 6 to 7 meters, preventing ships with drafts of 8.5 meters, which commonly call the port, from berthing, and forcing them rely on just two jetties able to accommodate such ships.

Meanwhile, ocean carriers have been pushing congestion surcharges for Chittagong-bound container ships from Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Guangzhou by $50 to $275, according to port officials.

Shippers, facing a lead time crisis because of their inability to get raw materials off ships and into their factories, have been clamoring for government support.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan this week promised that he and the government were doing all that it could, and has called for a July 24 meeting with a cross-section of port users to work on a solution.

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

New Chassis Leasing pool for LA/LB Truckers

Direct ChassisLink, a marine chassis and asset management services provider, has launched  a new chassis leasing service for motor carriers and other drayage providers who operate at the ports of Los Angeles, American Shipper reports.

The assets available in this pool are all  equipped with radial tires and LED lights and can be reserved via DCLI’s online reservation system to ensure equipment availability.

In addition to providing better driver productivity, the premium chassis in the IPPZ are the ideal equipment for longer drays. When a chassis is reserved and picked up, truckers can keep it out for as long as the equipment is needed and DCLI has developed a tiered pricing structure to accommodate longer-term usage. Days 1-7 of usage will be billed at the current daily market rate of $24.95. Day 8 and each day thereafter will be billed at $20.00.

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