Commentary

Commentary

This week's blast of cold weather is an unwelcome reminder of last winter’s polar vortex and a portent of supply chain disruption to come.
The recent attack on a Egyptian Naval patrol boat serves as a reminder that Egypt’s relative calm should not be mistaken as a sign of stability, and that maritime interests tied to the Suez Canal are far from insulated from country's many security problems.
I’m not certain why it is that, every time I mention transfer of title in any connection with a question about an Incoterm, somebody feels obliged to “correct” me by emphasizing that Incoterms don’t control the transfer of title. I know that.
Given Ebola’s combined potential for substantial loss of life and economic disruption, it certainly could qualify as a weapon of mass disruption-level threat, so why not treat it as one? Take Homeland Security’s defense of the international supply chain, for example. Substitute “WMD” with “Ebola,” and “freight conveyance” with “foreign traveler,” and the tactics are essentially identical.
Two recent cases serve as reminders of the expanding effort by enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to criminalize civil violations.
With intermodal loadings in record territory and the railroads pushed to the limit to move the volume, it might seem a bit strange to be sounding an alarm about a slowdown. But the intermodal industry is entering a period of vulnerability after a prolonged period of growth. While trouble isn’t inevitable, intermodal’s near-term destiny has passed to forces outside of intermodal’s control.
When looking at the list of Top 50 Global Transportation and Logistics Providers, the major takeaway is that consolidated revenues for these multibillion-dollar companies showed flat growth in 2013. This suggests top-line growth for these companies slowed during the year and, while it did for many, adjusting revenue growth for foreign currency fluctuations tells a much different story.
Truck weight reform legislation known as the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, which is pending in Congress and likely to be considered in 2015 as an amendment to the next highway reauthorization bill, would help shippers address the capacity crisis by giving each state the option to raise truck weight limits on appropriate portions of its interstate highways.
A broker is presented proof of delivery provided by a consignee and one from the carrier. They don’t match, and a damage claim has been filed. Is there a law forbidding altering a receipt outside a driver’s presence?
Pressure on PierPass to waive OffPeak program fees is an attempt to use the congestion crisis to accomplish an unrelated goal, one that has nothing to do with relieving congestion and would in fact greatly increase it.
Kansas City Southern Railway’s Pat Ottensmeyer is making a pitch that could alleviate the pain some importers are feeling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — advising shippers to divert shipments bound for the U.S. Gulf region away from the congestion-wracked San Pedro ports to Lazaro Cardenas in south-central Mexico.
Despite what looks like minimal impact on binational cross-border trade, the inability to put to rest the issue of Mexican trucks serving all of the U.S. should serve as a national embarrassment.
The disruption this week showed how little the assurances that had been duly repeated in joint PMA-ILWU press releases all summer were actually worth —nothing.
U.S. ports are suffering from slow reaction time to what in essence is growing global trade. Ships must be bigger and more efficient. Ports and terminals have to catch up, and as quickly as possible. That won’t be easy, but it’s necessary.