What We're Reading: Trendwatch Week 43

U.K. businesses’ Brexit frustration mounting with the costs

In September, Jaguar Land Rover unveiled a new development facility near Coventry in central England, equipped with technologies like 3-D printing and dedicated to a futuristic vision dubbed “Destination Zero”: No emissions, accidents or congestion.

Early next month, Britain’s biggest auto manufacturer plans to add another goose egg: Zero production.

Source: Bloomberg


An uncertain economy muddies the water for IMO 2020 planning

Since 2016, the world shipping industries — from box ships to bulkers to car carriers to tankers — have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in scrubbers and retrofitting to meet the Jan. 1, 2020 reduced-sulfur emissions standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). All good, one would say, as the 50,000+ merchant ships currently in operation are said to contribute 9% of the world’s high-sulfur pollutants.

Source: Supply Chain Dive


Experts warn of China's influence at U.S. ports

Trade flowing into and out of U.S. ports is increasingly vulnerable to market turmoil as China strengthens its investment foothold around the world, according to geopolitical experts.

Testifying at a recent congressional hearing in Washington on China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative, Carolyn Bartholomew, chair of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said China can use its financial control at foreign ports to create markets through which it can strengthen its trade relationships.

Source: Freight Waves 


MSC will not use the Northern Sea Route, citing environmental impact

Some carriers in the industry, including Northern Bulk Carriers and ships operated by the Russian government, have argued using the Northern Sea Route is more environmentally beneficial than using existing Europe-Asia routes, such as the Suez Canal, because it allows ships to cut down their transit time. However, MSC, CMA CGM, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have argued using the route is not worth the risk of damaging vulnerable Arctic ecosystems. 

Source: Supply Chain Dive


Railroads face major challenges to jump-start their intermodal business

Not all that long ago, say 2015 to 2017, it was the best of times for the railroads’ intermodal business. These times are not like those times.

The railroads have been mired in intermodal red ink all year long. Traffic is down 3.3% year-to-date, according to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). As of the week ending October 12, the volume of containers and trailers was down 6.6%, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). 

Source: Freight Waves


Europe’s biggest port says it’s ready to smooth Brexit bottlenecks

Europe’s busiest port is distributing 25,000 of its “Get Ready for Brexit” pamphlets heading into the Oct. 31 deadline explaining to truck drivers how to avoid bottlenecks. On the leaflet, the creature is sitting on a gate, blocking a trucker who looks annoyed at the staged delay. But the time for pretending is running out, and Rotterdam will be a closely watched link in the supply chain to gauge how disorderly trade becomes post-Brexit.

Source: American Journal of Transportation


Insurers call for SOLAS to be revised to present more fires on containerships

Maritime insurers have once again called for a drastic improvement in fire protection on containerships, and urge countries to press for change in international regulations at the IMO.

Despite publishing new guidance for fire prevention on box ships two years ago, in response to a series of deadly shipboard blazes, this year has seen no let-up in the number of catastrophic incidents: Yantian Express, APL Vancouver, Grande America, ER Kobe and KMTC Hong Kong were all fire-related casualties this year.

Source: The Loadstar