Commentary

A shipper negotiates a reduced rate with a railroad that’s published in a confidential document. Later, the carrier publishes a lower rate in a public document, and refuses to give that rate to the shipper holding the original agreement. Is there legal recourse?
As the IMO's container weight rules near launch, there is great doubt about how countries will implement them and even if they can. For those who can, there’s the time and cost elements to consider as well as the concern about being different from others that can’t comply. Are those reasons to do nothing or to comply when convenient?
With each passing day, the difficulties of implementing the SOLAS container weight rule by July 1 become ever more apparent. I’m getting the strong feeling that given its potential to disrupt a significant portion of world trade — that which moves via ocean container — it won’t be long before this issue hits the headlines of the mainstream business media.
Will the National Motor Freight Classification system ultimately vanish into obscurity? The answer is a clear-cut affirmative, and there’s certainly an argument that it should happen sooner rather than later.
Shipping is not a business for widows and orphans. Seldom has that adage been truer than in today’s breakbulk and project cargo market. Risks always have been part and parcel of cargo transportation. Unpredictable economic conditions and sluggish global demand will make 2016 especially dicey.
Container carriers took a lot of capacity out of the market in the last quarter of 2015, but not enough to influence rate-making decisions. Could the carriers take out more capacity, enough to influence rates? The simple answer is “yes” and “why not?”
If there’s a ray of good news to be found in China, it’s that the “something bad” Nariman Behravesh, IHS chief exonomist, referenced at the TPM Conference last March isn’t likely to be the full-blown financial crisis that hit the U.S. in 2008, but a longer-term period of slow growth.
In less than six months, the new container weight verification rule will take effect. However, the China-based manufacturers, freight forwarders and shipping lines I spoke to don’t expect much to change and have only a moderate awareness of what SOLAS even means.
It goes without saying that 2016 will be a momentous year for the container shipping industry. I should say another momentous year, considering the year just ended certainly held its own in that category. Unfortunately, synonyms to the word “momentous” when referring to container shipping aren’t words such as “historical,” “pivotal” or “decisive,” but are more along the lines of “chaotic,” “disruptive,” “costly,” “agonizing” and “painful,” and you could add to that “annoying” and “dispiriting” or even “depressing.”
In many respects a success story, the Port of Los Angeles' handling of the mega-ship Benjamin Franklin was the culmination of huge investments in dredging, facilities and systems. But the story looks different from another perspective.
When the JOC editorial team last fall looked at themes and subjects that would dominate 2016, there was no shortage of possibilities: continuing port congestion; the opening of the Panama Canal’s new locks; container weight regulations that will put the burden on shippers to verify that what they say their containerized freight weighs actually does; and, of course, carriers’ continuing battle to stay above water in an age of record-low freight rates. It’s that last issue that ultimately shined a light on what, we believe, will be the story of 2016: consolidation.
The proposed rule linking truckers' safety ratings to CSA data is an Internet-age vision, but more clarity is needed when it comes to the data and processes that would support it.
There are many hidden costs and variables which should be taken into account when comparing a price quote for what appears to be the same widget from, say, Changzhou, Jiangsu, versus that of Fuling, Chongqing.
The challenges facing businesses involved in imports and exports are complex. One constant theme in the industry is the rising cost of compliance. A related theme has to do with the expanding complexity of issues demanding compliance efforts.