Commentary

A shipper should be sure to engage brokers (or carriers who have a broker sideline) with a solid financial position and some standing in the industry. Avoiding brokers who leave their carriers unpaid will ensure the shipper won’t have unpaid carriers to worry about.
The economic success of nations is significantly reliant on the development of infrastructure like roads, rails and ports; corporations hoarding trillions of dollars in off-shore accounts threaten the economic preeminence of the U.S.
The reaction of shippers to West Coast longshore labor disruption is evolving in such a way that West Coast ports have reason for concern.
Entering a factoring arrangement with a carrier without terms clearly set in writing may initially seem to work when accomplished through informal deals between principals, but sooner or later problems arise.
Containerization, “the box that changed the world,” was the catalyst that allowed global trade to grow to where it is today. From 1986 through 2006, global trade quadrupled. It doubled again from 2000 to 2006. The link between the growth of containerization and that of global trade is no coincidence.
Although the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has no direct role in SOLAS compliance, the agency is monitoring the issue because of its potential impact on shipping productivity. “There’s a solution here,” William Doyle, FMC commissioner, said recently, “and we’ve got to find a solution.”
Many corporate trade compliance departments receive inadequate recognition and support in spite of the highly complex and risk-filled duties they perform.
Sometimes it can feel as if freight transportation is about to get “disrupted” by brilliant software engineers flush with millions of dollars in startup funding from Silicon Valley. Not only do we learn about new logistics-focused venture funds backed by people whose prior startups are the epitome of success, but we also see disruption in action every day.
Port cartage is the weakest link in the international supply chain, and the final miles from port to customer may soon become the longest and hardest of them all.
Motor carriers are legally prohibited from “double-brokering” loads to other carriers unless they have broker authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and represent themselves to the shipper as acting in a broker capacity.
Shippers should thoroughly vet their current carrier’s logging platforms, and if they aren’t utilizing electronic logging devices or plan to, create a transition plan. Carriers suggesting ELDs are a negative should be a red flag.
When Ghana’s Transport Minister Franklin Fiavi Fifi Kwetey took to the podium at a recent international ports and supply chain conference in the country’s capital of Accra he was forced to preface his speech with an apology. The lights in the five-star venue were misbehaving badly and the windowless room was plunged into darkness every few minutes, forcing speakers to read notes using a small torch attached to the podium.
When the 3,351-TEU container ship Rena grounded off New Zealand in 2011, the cargo losses totaled $1 billion, and the salvage operation took seven months. The loss pales in comparison to what’s at stake as the latest generation of container ships approach 20,000 20-foot-equivalent units.
Nothing short of an extension to the existing West Coast labor agreement, without the disruptions of 2014-15, will be sufficient to earn back the trust of shippers. But how serious is the ILWU in achieving that? We’ll find out soon.