HONG KONG — The Austrlalian operations of DP World will face a tough start to the year after a series of bitter disputes in recent months with local trade unions over pay and working conditions at its four port facilities.

China, Serbia and Hungary have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new 230-mile rail link between Belgrade and Budapest with construction work expected to start by the middle of next year.

With the year coming to a close with no end in sight to the delays at West Coast ports, pressure is building for the federal government to intervene in stalled negotiations between longshoremen and employers that are blamed for at least of the congestion.

Strong monthly volume growth at the Port of Tacoma came to an abrupt halt in November, when the port, plagued by labor productivity issues, saw international container volumes plummet 14.1 percent year-over-year, new port statistics show.

Carriers announced general rate increases that span into February this week, as spot rates around the globe respond to mid-December rate hikes. Drewry Maritime Research’s World Container Index composite index, which measures 11 East-to-West trade lanes, jumped a cumulative 35.8 percent this week.

A key indicator of U.S. trucking activity surged in November, reflecting strong retail sales and manufacturing output.

Provisions to boost U.S.-flag ships’ required share of government-purchased food aid were deleted from the final version of a Coast Guard authorization bill that President Obama signed into law this week.

APM Terminals will start construction of a new container terminal in Costa Rica next eyar after scaling the final hurdle facing the long-delayed $1 billion project.

Indonesia’s largest port operator Pelabuhan Indonesia II (IPC) will partner with PSA International, Japanese investment company Mitsui & Co. and NYK Line to construct and operate a container terminal at Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok port.

Strong air cargo volume on Asia-U.S. routes in the last quarter has seen airlines raising rates faster than forwarders can pass them on to customers, placing margins under pressure.

Capacity at a container terminal at Viskhapatnam Port, a major state-owned cargo hub on India’s southeastern coast, is set to double to 1 million TEUs annually after a consortium signed a Rs. 633.11 crore (US $102 million) construction contract.

The limited exemption for exports, and possibly the 53-year-old embargo, may become a thing of the past if Obama gets his way. But ending the embargo would require congressional action, something that’s politically questionable.

Truckload rates and intermodal pricing continued their year-over-year climb in November, spurred by stronger freight demand and port congestion.