Trendwatch: Port of Oakland partners with state and Japanese trade officials to cut global maritime shipping emissions; Rotterdam and Antwerp terminals still seeing reduced container volumes; China moves to limit exports of graphite

Port of Oakland partners with state and Japanese trade officials to cut global maritime shipping emissions 

Port of Oakland leaders joined the Port Decarbonization & Green Shipping Corridor Symposium today to discuss the important work being done to reduce greenhouse gas footprints globally and locally. Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan addressed port industry colleagues on the latest projects being implemented at Oakland to significantly cut carbon emissions from port and maritime shipping operations. California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (the Ministry) convened the Symposium in Los Angeles, CA today. 

“We are grateful to the California State Transportation Agency and the Ministry for bringing together our ports that share the critical supply chain between Japan and California,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “We benefit from each other's knowledge on the development and deployment of technologies to reduce planet-warming emissions.” 

Port of Oakland is the third busiest maritime gateway on the U.S. West Coast. It is a key shipping link in the Asia-U.S. West Coast trade route and global network. Oakland is the preferred agricultural export gateway for California’s Central Valley with connections to the Midwest via rail. 


Rotterdam and Antwerp terminals still seeing reduced container volumes 

The ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp-Bruges are reporting drastically reduced container volumes this year so far, having suffered a nine-month teu drop of 7.2% and 6.8%, respectively, compared with last year. 

Ports in Northern Europe remain short of cargo, following the withdrawal of Russian container volumes, which has caused a pronounced deficit. In Rotterdam’s H1 results, it reported volumes down 8.1%, compared with H1 22, while Antwerp-Bruges saw a 5.5% decline. 

Although the latest news shows that downward trends have not abated, it also implies some marginal improvement at Rotterdam between the half-year 8.1% drop and the nine-month 7.2% reported today. Indeed, The Loadstar yesterday reported on possible ‘green shoots’ of recovery. 

Rotterdam also blamed inflation and “limited economic growth” for the drop, as well as a consumer spending shift from products to services in the post-pandemic era. Nine-month ro-ro cargo at Rotterdam fell 3.8%; but the most pronounced drop was in general cargo, which fell 13.7%. 


China moves to limit exports of graphite 

China released plans to restrict graphite exports last week, days after the Biden administration placed new restrictions on advanced semiconductors that can be sent to the country. 

Citing security and national interests, China will ban all high-quality, high-purity, high-density artificial graphite materials and related products from being exported out of the country without official permission, according to a joint announcement from the country’s Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs. 

The new regulation against the critical mineral goes into effect Dec. 1. 


Port of Los Angeles cargo volumes rise 5% YoY in September 

Cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles rose 5% year-over-year to 748,440 TEUs in September, marking the second time in as many months volumes have increased compared to 2022. 

“Given the muted peak season we’re experiencing, our rising September performance is welcome news,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a Monday media briefing. 

Despite the increase, the port’s volumes decreased month-over-month, with August total volumes reaching 828,015 TEUs. According to Seroka, warehouse inventories still remain elevated as the holiday season approaches. 


Thai government to start national container shipping line 

In order to promote maritime trade, the Transport Ministry of Thailand is going to establish a national shipping company, according to Bangkok Post's report. 

The deputy transport minister, Manaporn Charoensri, asked the Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) to conduct a feasibility study for the cabinet to review. Next, the Ministry has to decide if the shipping company should be run as a state enterprise or under a public-private partnership model. 


How to combat endemic forced and slave labor in supply chains 

Though forced labor and slave labor have become staples across hundreds of industries, there have recently been more efforts to pass legislation to combat these abhorrent practices. Despite the best efforts of some of the world’s most powerful countries and continents, it could be a long time before we see an end to the use of these types of labor, if that’s even possible. 

The EU and the U.S. have tried to fight back against the use of forced and slave labor in supply chains. In 2022, the EU Commission proposed a regulation that prohibits products made with forced labor from entering the market. That rule allows EU member states to detain, seize or order the withdrawal of products from Europe if they were found to have been made with forced labor. Prior to that, the U.S. passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in December 2021 to prohibit the importation of goods into the U.S. that were manufactured through forced labor in China, mainly originating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 

“The UFLPA is really focused on preventing forced labor and modern slavery and banning goods that are produced in a specific region in China,” says Lauren Britts, the VP of Digital Transformation, Partnerships and Alliances for Certa, which provides third-party risk management software. “It’s very focused on one very particular part of the world.” 


Strike shuts down vital St Lawrence Seaway freight corridor 

Shipping on the St Lawrence Seaway between Montreal and Lake Erie ground to a halt on Sunday after 361 workers in the Unifor labour union in Ontario and Quebec walked off the job. 

The strike began seconds after midnight as contract negotiations with the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp (SLSMC) broke down. 

Now, business interest groups want the federal government to intervene to reopen shipping on this vital artery as soon as possible. 

Talks continued after the union had served a 72-hour strike notice on Wednesday, but failed to reach an agreement.