The Journal of Commerce Top 100 Importers: Analyzing the Rankings and Trade Dynamics

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The past year has been a roller coaster ride for US importers and exporters, regardless of the commodity they move or sector in which they do business. On the import side, the consumer spending dam that had been holding up record-smashing trans-Pacific volumes and rates for more than two years finally gave out, sending pricing plummeting to pre-pandemic levels. On the export side, the operational challenges that resulted from those record import volumes — from capacity and equipment shortages to skipped calls at key export gateways — also have eased, allowing for a more typical outbound flow of goods. But with the US economy expected to rebound, possibly as soon as the second half of 2023, the question now becomes: Have shippers and transportation providers learned from the pandemic-induced spike in freight demand or will they be caught out when the tide turns again?

This webcast, the first in a two-part series, will examine the impact that economic-, geopolitical-, and supply chain-related events have had on importers, and how that has played out in terms of containerized shipping volumes, as reflected by the Journal of Commerce rankings of Top 100 Importers for 2022.

Moderator:
Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor, Journal of Commerce by S&P Global
Speaker(s):
Ari Ashe, Senior Editor, Intermodal Rail and Southeast Ports, Journal of Commerce by S&P Global
William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor, Trucking and Domestic Transportation, Journal of Commerce by S&P Global
Lori Fellmer, Vice President-Logistics and Carrier Management, Basstech International
 
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Midyear Port Performance Report: What Needs to Be Done to Improve Flow

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North American ports are approaching the summer-fall peak shipping season free from the congestion and supply chain bottlenecks they faced last year. Vessel schedule integrity, while still far from ideal, has improved dramatically from the approximately 20 percent on-time performance registered early last year. The ports themselves are fluid, with virtually no container backlogs. Gate times for trucks are likewise what terminal operators and truckers consider to be acceptable. Retailers are scrambling to reduce the inventory overhang from last year that continues to take up valuable space at their warehouses with the plan being to be ready to receive this year’s fall and holiday merchandise. Railroads have addressed the congestion problems at their ramps in Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, Toronto and Montreal. The severe congestion those ramps experienced last summer and fall had a knock-on effect at the ports, resulting in congested marine terminals and excessive rail container dwell times. While the double-digit drop in cargo volumes the past six months are undoubtedly a major reason why the ports are fluid entering peak season 2023, the question now is, what must the marine terminals, carriers, railroads, truckers and retailers do in the coming few months to prepare for the next cargo surge? This webcast will analyze the state of port fluidity from the berth through to the container yard, while looking ahead to how prepared North American ports and terminals are for the next cargo wave.
Moderator:
Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor, West Coast, Journal of Commerce, S&P Global
Speaker(s):
Turloch Mooney, Director-Port Analytics, S&P Global
Mark Sisson, Senior Port Planner, AECOM

 

 

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Data-Driven Boxes: Closing Critical Information Gaps in Container Shipping

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In recent years, digitalization has profoundly impacted the global shipping industry. To overcome route disruptions, port congestions, labour shortages, extreme weather, and increasing demand for sustainability, stakeholders are turning to IoT technologies.

While refrigerated container IoT is now common, the largest obstacle to wide-scale deployment on dry containers has been availability and affordability. Today, the price point, value proposition, and use case have finally intersected.

In this webcast, ORBCOMM’s Christian Allred and Thomas Eskesen, an industry expert with 30 years of maritime container experience, will evaluate the use cases for IoT in container shipping. They will discuss how the technology can improve traceability, supply chain efficiency and compliance, reduce costs, and enhance security and safety, all while helping achieve new revenue streams and corporate sustainability goals.

 

Moderator:

Alessandra Barrett, Associate Director, Special Projects, Journal of Commerce by S&P Global

Speaker(s):

Christian Allred, Executive Vice President of International Sales, ORBCOMM

Thomas Eskesen, Founder, Eskesen Advisory

 

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Canada Trade and Shipping: The Path Forward

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The surge of Asian imports and the wake of its disruption that tested marine terminals to inland hubs is over. That’s shifting the spotlight to how stakeholders are investing in Canadian infrastructure and improving operations to address pinch points, lest they become bottlenecks when there’s a cargo surge or major weather disruption. Acknowledging the need for government to do more, Ottawa is rethinking the nation’s port structure and how to best support cargo flows inland. If the last seven years have been a guide, however, then Canadian shippers and transportation providers know not to count on federal intervention if port workers and employers don’t have productive contract talks on both coasts. This webcast will give shippers and their transportation partners an update on major port and inland freight infrastructure projects while highlighting innovation and persistent challenges across containerized supply chains. Among the topics for discussion: 

 

     • Western Winds: The coming year will be critical for key infrastructure projects to boost capacity at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. While the surges caused by Asia import pressures ease and rail performance improves in the spring, port, terminal, and dray speakers will assess cargo flow conditions at the docks and inland hubs, and the lingering kinks and bottlenecks in the system.  

Speaker(s):

Michael Inman, Director, Business Development, Port of Prince Rupert
Girish Nair, Vice President, International Intermodal, CN 
Peter Xotta, Vice President, Operations and Supply Chain, Port of Vancouver

 

     • Spotlight on Ottawa: Canada is giving its port system the first major rethink in more than two decades after disruption tied to the COVID-19 pandemic exposed its fragility. Ports, railroads, marine terminals, and other stakeholders are weighing in what they want to come out of Ottawa. Through the Ports Modernization Act, launched in 2018, stakeholders are addressing a number of issues, from scarcity of land near some ports to the potential for new technologies to speed cargo flow.  

Speaker (s):

Debbie Murray, Senior Director, Association of Canadian Port Authorities
Julia Kuzeljevich, Director, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA)

 

      • Eastern Winds: Canadian ports on the East Coast are expanding capacity to handle actual and anticipated volume growth, with Montreal notably pushing for a new container terminal. Halifax, which handled record volume of more than 600,000 TEU last year, will receive new cranes and yard handling equipment, while new investment is helping Saint John attract more cargo. 

Speaker (s):

Paul Bird, Vice-President, Contrecoeur, Montreal Port Authority
Jordan Kajfasz, Assistant Vice President, Sales and Marketing, CPKC
Sam Zhang, Director, Trade, Port of Halifax

 

Moderator:
Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor, Journal of Commerce, S&P Global 

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Container Shipping Outlook: The Asia-Europe Trade

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Uncertainty over space on the Asia-Europe trade in 2022 has given way to uncertainty about demand in 2023, with those involved in the European import markets divided over when an expected inventory recovery will occur. The sooner the better, as the sustained weak demand is increasing pressure on European shippers to reduce working capital tied up in excess inventory. The problem is that ocean schedule reliability on the Asia-Europe trade stood at just 52 percent in January, up significantly from the low levels of the past year but still below a level where shippers would feel comfortable reducing buffer stocks. Some forwarders and carriers believe a late second-half replenishment campaign by the retail sector is likely as the risk of a recession subsides, while others point to full warehouses subduing a return of demand until late this year or early 2024. Still, there are emerging signs that inventory levels are slowly receding. February PMI survey data by S&P Global, parent company of the Journal of Commerce, found that pre-production inventories in Europe fell for the first time since September 2021 as companies stepped up efforts to unwind safety stock buffers. This webcast will take stock of the Asia-Europe trade and deliver an outlook for what is shaping up as a transition year between the chaos of the past and a resumption of more traditional trade flows.  

Moderator:
Greg Knowler, Europe Editor, Journal of Commerce, S&P Global Market Intelligence
Speaker(s):

Andreas Buetfering, Senior Director-Far East Trade Management, Hapag-Lloyd
Markus Panhauser, Senior Vice President-Oceanfreight Europe, DHL Global Forwarding 
Peter Sand, Chief Analyst, Xeneta

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