BDP Trendwatch: Automated ports see West Coast dockworkers clock more hours; China’s April PMI stats foreshadow challenges ahead; Biden officials divided over easing China tariffs to slow inflation

Logistics and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard at sunrise, logistic import export and transport industry background

Automated ports see West Coast dockworkers clock more hours

Employers at West Coast ports at the center of the U.S. supply-chain crisis released a study extolling the benefits of automation a week before the start of labor talks where the issue is set to feature.

Paid hours at the two automated terminals in the San Pedro Bay complex - which includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach - have increased 31.5% since 2015. That’s more than twice the rate at the 11 non-automated terminals, according to the study led by University of California at Berkeley professor Michael Nacht published Monday.

Since 2019, automated terminals - which have software-assisted cranes, autonomous vehicles and digital checkpoints among other things - have processed containers twice as quickly as conventional ones.

AJOT, Bloomberg

China’s April PMI stats foreshadow challenges ahead

As Beijing talks up stimulus packages, official data published over the weekend shows just how sharply the rolling municipal lockdowns are tanking the Chinese economy, making the stated goal of 5.5% GDP growth in 2022 a huge challenge.

China’s manufacturing activity slumped to its lowest level since February 2020, official data showed on Saturday.

Splash 24/7

Biden officials divided over easing China tariffs to slow inflation

The Biden administration is split on whether to pare back tariffs on imports from China in an effort to cut consumer costs and reduce inflation, as the White House gives renewed consideration to a step that has divided officials.

On one side of the debate within the administration are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who favor easing the tariffs on some of the roughly $360 billion annually of Chinese imports put in place under the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

On the other are Trade Representative Katherine Tai and others who are reluctant to relinquish U.S. leverage over China in a continuing effort to reshape Chinese economic behavior, according to the people.

The Wall Street Journal

How war, shipping boom, China lockdowns impact Panama Canal

What’s the single most important concentration of infrastructure keeping America supplied with goods? The Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, which handles around 40% of the country’s containerized imports. What’s the second most important? One could make a strong case for the expanded Panama Canal.

America could never have handled the historic import deluge of the past two years if Panama had not built the third set of locks, the larger “Neopanamax” locks that debuted in 2016 and brought much higher-capacity container ships from Asia to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

The Panama Canal has been one of the big winners of the COVID-era shipping boom. But now, the pace of growth is slowing, mirroring a trend seen across much of global trade, and the canal is feeling more effects from the Ukraine-Russia war and China’s COVID lockdowns.

Freight Waves, American Shipper

India on the front foot amidst global shipping disruption but dip in freight rates “temporary”

April ended with a cheer among the Indian shippers as prices of shipping containers across major ports of Nhava Sheva (Mumbai), Chennai and Mundra (Gujarat).

Container News spoke with Peter Sundara, global head of ocean freight at a major Singapore-based cargo owner, who stated that this dip in box rates is a ‘temporary trend’ and freight would start to increase again higher than the pre-Covid levels.

“This is driven by an uptick in demand, especially after the easing of China’s Covid-19 lockdown and an increase in demand from US and EU for upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, etc,” said Sundara.

Container News

Port of Long Beach completes project boosting rail capacity

The Port of Long Beach has completed construction of a new rail project which it says will increase efficiency of goods movement and reduce congestion on local roadways by shifting more cargo to trains.

The Double Track Access from Pier G to Pier J Project adds a second rail line running approximately 8,000 feet long enabling four terminals in the Port’s south basin area to simultaneously handle arriving and departing trains.

The project is a key piece of the port’s rail infrastructure capital improvement program aimed at shifting more cargo to rail.


Drewry sees no stable container shipping market before 2023

Lengthy delays and high freight rates in container shipping will not subside until at least 2023, according to a revised forecast by the Drewry consultancy, citing the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a new Covid-19 wave in China.

Simon Heaney, Drewry’s senior manager of container research said that carriers’ ability to charge customers extremely high freight rates is dictated by the duration of supply chain bottlenecks, which remain highly unpredictable. 

Maritime Magazine