• ITVI.USA
    15,999.700
    -30.820
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.805
    -0.004
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.190
    -0.030
    -0.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,985.320
    -31.230
    -0.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,999.700
    -30.820
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.805
    -0.004
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.190
    -0.030
    -0.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,985.320
    -31.230
    -0.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingWarehouse

More carriers plan congestion charge

Container carriers are announcing West Coast port congestion charges of $1,000 per FEU

   More container carriers are confirming they will institute a congestion surcharge on cargo moving through West Coast ports.
   Maersk, the largest container carrier, said it will apply a surcharge
to all cargo received on or after Nov. 26th at various countries in the
Far East and discharged in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle
if it is bound for the U.S., Canada or Mexico. It will also apply the
surcharge on U.S.-bound cargo routed through Vancouver, B.C., or Lazaro
Cardenas, Mexico. The amount of the surcharge is $800 per 20-foot
container, $1,000 per 40-foot container and greater amounts for high
cube, reefer and 45-foot containers.
   Many carriers announced surcharges earlier this month on cargo moving
through West Coast ports, including cargo that they was already in
transit or in-gated at terminals, but then suspended them, at least
temporarily, after the Federal Maritime Commission raised questions
about their ability to impose surcharges on cargo that was already
tendered to carriers.
   The FMC
also said tariff rules allowing carriers to impose congestion surcharges
“must be clear and definite as to the implementation and termination of
the surcharge based upon specific criteria related to ‘labor unrest.’ “

   But late last week, many carriers began reinstating the charges,
saying that the charges would only be imposed on cargo tendered on Nov.
26.
   The freight forwarder Mallory Alexander has been posting details on
surcharges by other carriers as it receives them in a table here.
   Mario Cordero, chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, told American Shipper
Monday morning that the agency’s staff “is looking at this issue. For
those carriers who have stepped back on their surcharge, I appreciate
their action on that, and for those who have moved forward, I think it
is unfortunate given the issue presented and our interpretation of
that.”
   The carriers are making the announcements as talks between the
primary negotiators for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union
and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association ended last
week, outraging many shipper groups that are frustrated by delays on
their imports and exports  moving through ports.
   Craig Merrilees, an ILWU spokesman, said discussions by ILWU-PMA
committees working on specific issues were expected to continue this
week, though the PMA has accused the ILWU of “slowdown tactics” in the
bargaining talks.
   The PMA has accused the ILWU of of a “coordinated series of slowdowns
that have plagued the major West Coast ports of Tacoma, Seattle,
Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach.”
   In Los Angeles and Long Beach, where containerships normally can
proceed straight to berth upon arrival at the port, more ships are going
to anchorage for at least a day to wait for a berth. Monday morning at 7
a.m., there were eight containerships at berth, down from 12 on Sunday
morning, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
   On Friday, the leaders of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma asked President Barack Obama to
assign federal mediators to resolve the contract negotiations.
   In a letter to the president, Theodore J. Fick, the chief executive officer of the Port of Seattle,
and John Wolfe, the chief executive officer of the Port of Tacoma, urged
him “to reconsider your decision not to assign federal mediators to help
the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and
Warehouse Union resolve pending contract negotiations. We believe that
mediation has become a critical and necessary tool because the parties
have been unsuccessful in concluding discussions after seven months.
Lack of resolution, we believe, has negatively affected the efficient
flow of commerce through ports along the West Coast for several weeks
now.
   “The ports of Seattle and Tacoma comprise the third-largest container
gateway in North America,” the port executives wrote, “and represent a
critical node in the United States-Asia trade gateway on which American
and global businesses and consumers depend.” They also noted that “Puget
Sound serves as the principle gateway for waterborne commerce to the
state of Alaska, which has limited surface transportation connections to
the lower 48 states.”
   Tacoma has said productivity at the port has been “slower than usual” and is affecting both people who work in the ports and “beneficial cargo owners across many states.”
   Those shippers “have reached out to us to share tales of the
crippling effect of the current situation,” the port said. “Examples
include: agriculture exporters are unable to get perishable goods to
market resulting in major losses during peak season; manufacturers have
had to shut down operations and send employees home; shippers and
transloaders are incurring higher costs for trucker-standby time; and
there are examples of storage and rail-car demurrage due to backlog at
ports. We also are aware of shippers who have diverted their cargo to
non-U.S. ports, resulting in the loss of American jobs to foreign
competitors. The bottom line is that across many sectors from
agriculture to manufacturing, workers are not getting paid during the
Thanksgiving season, and some businesses are closing down.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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