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.

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

CBP Delays ACE Roll Out

US Customs and Border Protection last week indefinitely delayed the last core trade processing capabilities of its  new electronic filing system, the Journal of Commerce reports.

The  deployment of last core capabilities – liquidation, reconciliation, drawback, duty deferral, collections and the Automated Surety Interface (ASI)-  of Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)  was planned for July 8th.  It’s the fourth time that this stage of the ACE roll out has been delayed.    Customs announce its new plans to reschedule the deployment for a later, unspecified date.

“We have been conducting ongoing, rigorous testing to ensure these capabilities will operate successfully. Our latest efforts have revealed areas specific to collections that are in need of further testing before these capabilities can be deployed,” Customs said in a statement.

Yet, even the functionalities of ACE that are online now are still facing issues. Just over the past month, users have reported slowdowns lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to nearly five hours when using ACE’s entry summary, entry summary interfaces, and cargo release query functions, according to the ACE application dashboard and comments from individual customs brokers.

The ACE system was designed with the intent of streamlining cross-border trade, replacing the antiquated Automated Commercial System (ACS) and allowing shippers to easily transmit documents with government agencies, saving time and money.

Guide to Shipping Dangerous Goods

When you ship hazardous materials, are you need to be compliant. Transporting dangerous goods is a complex procedure and requires detailed understanding and knowledge of the relevant regulations. Here are the essential factors you need to know for safe and successful ground transport of dangerous goods.

What does it mean Hazardous Materials?

Hazardous materials are substances that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has determined are capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported.

The dangerous goods are classified into nine classes according to the type of danger materials or items present:

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable Liquids
  4. Flammable Solids
  5. Oxidizing Substances
  6. Toxic & Infectious Substances
  7. Radioactive Material
  8. Corrosives
  9. Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

These items are generally either toxic, flammable or corrosive.

Dangerous Goods Regulating Agencies

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is the keeper of all transportation laws in the United States, which are found in Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 49. Hazardous materials regulations are in Subtitle B, Chapter 1.

However, for international shipments, the regulations are set by two specialized agencies of the United Nations.

The first agency is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The DOT authorizes goods to be transported internationally by air using the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is an association of airlines around the world, has taken the ICAO instructions a step further and published their own set of dangerous goods regulations that their members adhere to. These IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations are more restrictive than ICAO.

For ocean shipments, part 171.22 of the CFR49 allows for shipments to adhere to the rules of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is the second specialized agency of the United Nations. The IMO’s goal is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair, effective and universally adopted around the world. They publish the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, which is used to regulate dangerous goods that are moved via ship.

In the U.S. enforcement of these regulations is done by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for air shipments and the Coast Guard for ocean shipments.

Shippers transporting dangerous goods on the ground in Europe must do so according to the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).

The carriage of dangerous goods by rail is governed by Appendix C of the Convention Covering International Carriage by Rail – International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail.

What does it mean Hazardous Materials?

Hazardous materials are substances that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has determined are capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported.

The dangerous goods are classified into nine classes according to the type of danger materials or items present:

What are Shipper responsibilities?

The major responsibilities of HM shippers are below:

  • Determine whether a material meets the definition of a “Hazardous Material”
  • Proper shipping name
  • Class/ Division
  • Identification name
  • Hazard warning label
  • Packaging
  • Marking
  • Employee training
  • Shipping papers
  • Emergency response information
  • Emergency response telephone number
  • Certification
  • Compatibility
  • Blocking and bracing
  • Placarding
  • Security plan
  • Incident reporting

General shipper responsibilities are contained in 49 CFR Part 173.

What is the Hazmat Employees training?

It is every Hazmat Employer’s responsibility to ensure its employees are trained and tested in accordance with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 172.704. A Hazmat Employer is defined as any company that engages, on a full-time or part-time or temporary basis, Hazmat Employees who ship or cause to be shipped hazardous materials, including those who:

  • load, unload, or handle hazardous materials,
  • prepare hazardous materials for transportation, and/or
  • operate a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials.

A Hazmat Employee also includes any person who designs, manufactures, fabricates, inspects, marks, reconditions, maintains/repairs, or tests a package or packaging component that is represented as qualified for use in transporting hazardous materials.

There are five types of training that employees must complete:

  • General Awareness/Familiarization Training
  • Function-Specific Training
  • Safety Training
  • Security Awareness Training
  • In-Depth Security

Hazardous Materials shipment preparation

Dangerous Goods shipments must be prepared in accordance with the relevant Dangerous Goods Regulations.

  • Identification of a hazardous material is the first step. It is from the proper identification of the hazardous materials that the other requirements are based on.
  • All the shipments must be correctly packed, marked and labeled\
  • Required documents completed: Preliminary Dangerous Goods Declaration that should contain the commodity name and the Class Number.
  • All the shipping records, paper or electronic, must be retained on every shipment for two years after the material is accepted by the initial carrier. For hazardous waste, the records must be retained for three years.

Note that all the hazardous shipments are subject to preapproval by the steamship line.

Marking and labeling of Hazardous Materials

All packages must be properly marked in accordance with Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) requirements. The basic marking requirement consists of the proper shipping name and identification number of the hazardous materials contained in the package. Markings should be durable, in English, and not obscured by other markings or labels.

Depending on the contents of your shipment, additional markings may be required.

Packages containing hazardous materials must also be properly labeled. The diamond-shaped hazard label, which indicates the hazard class and division of the material you’re shipping, is the most commonly used label. It must be displayed on packaging of contrasting color.

Some hazardous materials present more than one hazard. When shipping these materials, the subsidiary hazard label must be displayed within 6 inches of the primary hazard label on your packaging.

Exceptions to labeling:

  • Packages shipped as a Limited Quantity may be exempt from the labeling requirements.
  • Packages shipped under a DOT special permit may also be exempt from labeling requirements.
  • Packages prepared under 49 CFR 173.13 do not require a diamond-shaped hazard label.

Proper packaging for Hazardous Materials

All hazardous materials must be packaged in United Nations Performance Oriented Packaging (UN POP) except when non-specification packaging is authorized by Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR). All packaging must meet the requirements set out in 49 CFR 173.24 and 49 CFR 173.24a. Packaging that is not in new or “like new” condition will not be accepted.

  • Hazardous materials cannot be banded, strapped or taped to form a bundle.
  • Note that all the hazardous shipments are subject to preapproval by the steamship line.

What is MSDS ?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product. It also contains information on the use, storage, handling and emergency procedures all related to the hazards of the material. MSDSs are prepared by the supplier or manufacturer of the material.


As hazmat shipping regulations change overtime, it’s important to stay informed on regulatory updates.

If you have any questions about shipping dangerous goods, please contact RCL Agencies Inc. RCL has significant experience in hazardous shipments. Our highly trained and certified specialists can provide you with all the necessary requirements to prepare your shipment in order to comply with all U.S. and International laws and regulations governing transportation of hazardous material.


The source:

International Air Transport Association (IATA).

U.S. and International laws and regulations governing transportation of hazardous material.

Federal Aviation Administration

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations