Trans-Pacific Trade

The trans-Pacific ocean shipping market is by far North America’s largest trade lane, accounting for nearly 20 million 20-foot-equivalent container units in the U.S. trade alone in 2012.

The market is dominated by imports by large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s, which, unlike in other markets, tend to contract directly with ocean carriers rather than through forwarders, as is typically the case in the Asia-Europe market. As a result of the one-year contracts that retailers and other large shippers typically sign as of May 1 each year, freight rates in the trans-Pacific eastbound trade tend to be less volatile than in Asia-Europe.

Key developments in the trans-Pacific include the approaching 2015 expansion of the Panama Canal and its potentially huge impact on routing of Asia goods into North America, Canadian West Coast ports’ growing success in attracting U.S.-bound cargo, and West Coast ports’ expected response to these competitive challenges.

Exports moving to those markets typically are lower-value commodities such as wastepaper and scrap that keep China’s manufacturing and packaging industries humming.

Special Coverage

With nerves fraying about upcoming talks between waterfront employers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with memories fresh of jurisdictional issues that have led to sporadic protests in the Pacific Northwest and with chassis shortages causing long delays at Los Angeles-Long Beach, West Coast ports are as exposed as they’ve been in recent memory.

News & Analysis

Drewry Container Rate Benchmark, April 16, 2014.
16 Apr 2014
The Drewry benchmark rate for shipping from Hong Kong to Los Angeles rose this week after three weeks in a row with no positive movement.

Commentary

If there’s a theme to this year’s TPM Conference, it’s that 2014 is the year of the game-changer in international logistics. The changes the industry is grappling with as we congregate in Long Beach this week are profound and will define the main challenges confronting shippers, carriers, third-party logistics providers and others possibly for years.

Video

Stephane Rambaud, senior vice president at C.H. Robinson, discusses the integration of Phoenix International, which the logistics firm acquired in 2012, the company's consolidation services, and the challenges of volatility in the trans-Pacific trade.
Steven Cernak, chief executive and port director of Port Everglades, and James Hertwig, president of Florida East Coast Railway, discuss their organizations’ recent performance, their partnership in a new intermodal container transfer facility, and the opportunities they see and projects they are pursuing for further growth.
Linda Styrk, Port of Seattle managing director, discusses Harbor Maintenance Tax reform, the competitive environment for U.S. West Coast ports, and environmental initiatives at the port.