Date: 17.12.2020

US ports not immune from congestion

The continuing torrent of inbound containers from Asia has filled up all the terminal operating space at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with bottlenecks spreading to the East Coast and Gulf ports, and congestion, vessel bunching, and equipment shortages expected to last until at least Chinese New Year in February and possibly up to April.

Analysts are predicting that the growth in imports will continue through April, with imports in December projected to increase 11% over the same period in 2019 and imports rising 2.4% in January, 2.6% in February, 17.8% in March, and 8.3% in April on a year-over-year basis.

US imports from Asia were exceptionally strong in November, increasing 27.2% from 2019, but were down 6% from October, which will be the peak month in 2020.

November’s import volumes are unusual because it is normally a slack month in the eastbound trans-Pacific trade, that marks the end of the peak-shipping season.

The difference between the first half of 2020 and the second half is marked, with imports declining from January through June owing to the economic destruction caused by COVID-19. However, when the US economy reopened, imports grew rapidly as retailers restocked inventories to meet pent-up demand from consumers and are 2% overall higher than 2019.

With the unusually high freight volumes in December keeping pressure on capacity and prices from origin ports to warehouse delivery, shippers face particularly tough service contract and pricing talks with carriers over the next few months. 

Unloading and returning containers quickly, will continue to be invaluable to carriers.

Getting access to ocean capacity is a daily challenge this year and will continue to be, with many BCO contracts failing to deliver capacity in 2020, leaving many to approach Metro to uplift the cargo left by their contracted line.

US exports to UK diverted

2M partners Maersk and MSC are swapping Felixstowe for Liverpool on their TA2/NEUATL2 transatlantic loop from the end of the year, with the first sailing from Liverpool by the 6,478 teu Maersk Sembawang planned for week 52.

Accepting diverted ships has put considerable pressure on the landside operation at Liverpool and we are watching the local situation closely, after reports of lengthy delays for hauliers.

The Unites States is a major market for Metro and one that we excel in, domestically and internationally, on both the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific trades. Metro has established relationships and long term contracts with all key shipping lines on USA trades.

For any import or export, sea and air opportunities please contact your key client manager at Metro Shipping.