Trendwatch: US imports still rising – 'strongest performance since the pandemic'; More ships and more containers needed for 'feverish' box shipping sector; Airbus Cuts Guidance as Supply Chain Snags Continue to Bite

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US imports still rising – 'strongest performance since the pandemic'

US container import volumes continued to show surprising strength in May, according to new data from shipping analyst John McCown.

Mr McCown said inbound boxes last month were up some 5.6%, year on year, although the increase was more muted than the 13.4%, 19.9% and 26.5% increases seen in April, March and February, respectively.

“It represents the strongest performance since the pandemic, and a continuing sign of robust inbound volume strength,” Mr McCown wrote.


More ships and more containers needed for 'feverish' box shipping sector

Supply in container shipping has become “febrile and extreme”, according to analysts at Transport Intelligence (Ti), as the sector lurches between a surge in the requirement for capacity and a large increase in the supply of new vessels.

Stanley Smulders, director of marketing and commercial for ocean carrier ONE, told The Loadstar on the sidelines of the Multimodal Exhibition in Birmingham that the Red Sea crisis had upset the balance of supply and demand in ocean shipping.

“In our industry, the market prices are normally set by supply and demand. Demand is easy – either it is up, or it is down. But the supply side is different.


Airbus Cuts Guidance as Supply Chain Snags Continue to Bite

Airbus SE cut its earnings and aircraft-delivery goals for the year as persistent supply-chain issues continue to deprive the European planemaker of vital components, dealing a setback to the company at a time when demand for its jets is at a record.

The company now expects to hand over 770 aircraft this year, down from a previous goal of 800, it said in a surprise announcement after European markets closed on June 24. Speaking on a call with reporters, Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said the situation isn’t getting any better, requiring the company to adjust its goals.

Airbus has long warned of supply-chain issues and a lack of skilled workers, after the pandemic first grounded the global aviation industry and then left it unprepared once air travel came roaring back. Demand for its aircraft has been particularly strong in the last two years as airlines clamor for modern models, further exacerbating the shortfall in required equipment and labor.


Houthi attacks on commercial shipping ramp up and get deadlier

Houthi militants are attacking commercial ships off Yemen with increasing — and sometimes deadly — effectiveness, exposing the limits of a US-led coalition to quell the violence in some of the world’s most important waterways.

The Houthis struck the commodities carrier Transworld Navigator in a suspected drone attack early Sunday, marking the fourth time the vessel has been targeted, according to US Central Command. The ship continued on its path through the Red Sea, following moderate damage and minor injuries to the crew.

Earlier this month, a seafarer died after an attack on the Tutor, a ship hauling coal that was built in 2022. The vessel sank in what appeared to be the first successful Houthi strike from a seaborne drone.


Canada to curb China EV imports as Trudeau responds to Biden move

Canada is clamping down on imports of Chinese-made electric vehicles, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government seeks to align itself with the Biden administration on trade.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the start of a 30-day public consultation period — the first stage before Canada can bring in tariffs on Chinese EVs. The government’s plan to hike these tariffs was first reported by Bloomberg News last week.

Freeland said the government will also examine changes to the list of electric vehicles that are eligible for federal consumer incentives, as well as “broader investment restrictions in Canada” for the EV industry.


Hauliers pile on the pressure for 44-tonne haulage across Europe

European regulators are seeking to force through increase tonnage limits for cross-border road freight.

Responding to the Council of European Foreign Ministers’ failure to reach agreement on a requested 44-tonne limit, the European Commission announced it would reviewing the Weights and Dimensions directive (WDD) of its Greening Freight package of measures to make freight transport more efficient and more sustainable

Michaël Reul, secretary-general of transport alliance UPTR said: “Hauliers need to reduce their CO2 emissions and the simplest solution is to start improving truck load factors.”


General air cargo demand takes off thanks to e-com and ocean disruption

General cargo has been growing at a faster rate than special products so far this year as a result of growing e-commerce demand and disruption in the container shipping industry.

Stats from data provider WorldACD show that over the first five months of the year, general cargo volumes increased by 13% while special products – such as perishables, dangerous goods, high tech and pharma – increased by 10%. The overall market was up by 12% year on year.

This reverses a trend of recent years in which “demand from air cargo shipments requiring special handling and shipping has broadly outperformed general cargo”.


China and European Union Attempt to Head Off Trade War

China and the European Union have agreed to engage in talks to try to resolve an escalating dispute over tariffs, the Chinese commerce ministry said late on June 22.

The New York Times reports that, with billions of dollars in trade at stake, China’s commerce minister, Wang Wentao, and Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Union trade commissioner, will hold discussions on the European Union’s plan for tariffs on electric cars from China.

On the same day, Germany’s vice chancellor and economic minister Robert Habeck met with Chinese officials in Beijing, saying he hoped tariffs could be avoided, and that the EU was willing to hold consultations.


Three Months After Bridge Collapse, Cargo Ship Dali Leaves Baltimore

The cargo ship Dali has finally departed from Baltimore, nearly three months since its accident that resulted in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the tragic loss of six lives. This departure, overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard, marks a significant milestone in the vessel's recovery and ongoing operations.

The vessel left the Port of Baltimore at approximately 7 a.m. local time, embarking on its journey to the Port of Virginia. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sailfish established a 500-yard safety zone around the ship during its transit, ensuring the safe passage of the Dali. The ship, manned by a full crew of 22 and six salvage experts from Resolve Marine, was also accompanied by four commercial tugboats and the salvage vessel Interceptor.


PIF subsidiary SGP and SANY seal $1.87bn deal to supply electric trucks to Dammam port

An agreement worth SR7 billion ($1.87 billion) was struck between Saudi Global Ports and a Chinese company to advance green operational capacities at the Kingdom’s ports. 

The deal — hailed as the world’s largest single contract for the manufacture and supply of electric trucks — was signed by the Public Investment Fund subsidiary and China’s SANY for King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam, according to a statement from the Kingdom’s ports authority.

As per the contract, SANY will deliver 80 electric trucks to the port, added the release from the authority, also known as Mawani.


FMC says D&D cases trebled since pandemic

Detention and demurrage (D&D) cases handled by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in the United States have trebled since the pandemic and are set to reach historical highs by the end of the year.

FMC commissioner Carl Bentzel said that cases reaching the late-stage litigation had trebled, forcing the organisation to recruit two more administrative court judges, who now total three, to deal with the number of cases being handled.

“Even so only around 5%-10% of cases reach the litigation stage with most disputes being settled before the point where litigation is needed,” Bentzel told Container News.