How Freight Forwarders Can Help Your Company

1388361357w8dh9In the coming year, there will be new transportation hurdles that will challenge supply chains everywhere. How they overcome these challenges will be the ultimate freight test.

By 2016, the expansion of the Panama Canal will be complete. While this will open up new trade possibilities, it also will come with massive changes. The extra room in the Panama Canal will result in larger vessels called New Panamax and Post New Panamax. The ships can hold more cargo, which could help with some ocean freight rates. However, many ports in the US and around the World might not have the capabilities to handle the larger vessels. If the ports do not upgrade to handle larger ships, the port congestion could worsen quickly.

On the domestic front, there is a massive shortage of truck drivers by 40,000. This could impact capacity issues. The 40,000 vacancies are expected to become 400,000 in ten years to further exacerbate the problem. Trucking companies are having a difficult time attracting new and younger drivers.

Meanwhile, internationally, there are new and emerging markets growing. Commodities, like heavy machinery, are in high demand throughout Africa and the Middle East. It would be a wise for a company to take advantage of this opportunity.

The transportation challenges that face US companies might seem difficult, but working with a knowledgeable freight forwarder can make a great difference. They have years of experience in all types of shipping. They will help plan your transportation strategy and help navigate your freight across the stormy waters of uncertainty. With a freight forwarder, your company can survive the problems of the upcoming year and beyond.

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Growing Trade in Africa

africaThe key to growing Africa’s economy is with trade. Africa has a need for many materials from overseas, including heavy machinery shipping.

Amina Mohamed, a popular international diplomat, has recently spoken about this very issue. She outlined the benefits and ways that Africa can achieve trade success. Some of her suggestions included an expansion of a free trade area in Africa to attract potential trade partners. She also said businesses in Africa should seek new partnerships and businesses abroad that look to the growing markets in Africa. To achieve more trade, Mohamed recommenced that leaders in Africa make a few alterations to domestic and foreign policies. She said that they should change domestic economic laws so that they can expand trade. This also includes diversifying investments and enhancing supply chains. Meanwhile, nations might invest in different industries in important infrastructure upgrades in Africa, which will lure in interested trade parties. It will cost about $10 billion over the next decade for Africa to improve infrastructure. In June, leaders in the continent will travel to South Africa to discuss these items and more at a summit.

The current free trade agreements in the region result from the African Free Trade Zone, which was signed in 2008 and expanded to include other partner nations in 2012. The purpose of the African Free Trade Zone is for growing inter-regional trade.

Interested businesses that want to ship to Africa should speak to an experienced freight forwarder. They will provide you with a great ocean freight shipping rate.

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Port of Philadelphia Set for Growth

urlThe Port of Philadelphia is situated on the US East Coast, in a hub where there are numerous other competitive ports in the region. In terms of overall tonnage, the Port of Philadelphia ranks about 25th overall in the entire US. Thus, they are looking to move up that list for tonnage. To do that, the Port of Philadelphia must invest in new services and niche commodities that will attract new business. They might have just found their answer.

The Journal of Commerce is reporting on the recent growth of reefer container shipments to the Port of Philadelphia. There have been over 23,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of reefer cargo to the Port of Philadelphia this year. This represents an 18% increase. All of this is occurring, as other cargo growth at the port remains stagnant. That growth of reefer cargo is about to expand. The Port of Philadelphia just announced two more weekly services with Central and Latin America. It will occur onboard the South American Express Service, which always goes to the Port of Philadelphia. The main reefer commodity is fruit from the region. The service will send fruit between the Port of Philadelphia and nations like Cartagena and Colombia starting June 3.

In terms of reefer shipping volume, the Port of Philadelphia is the 5th largest port on the East Coast. And the East Coast is where most reefer volume goes through in the US. If you would like to get an ocean freight shipping rate for the new reefer services at the Port of Philadelphia, speak to your trusted freight forwarder.

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Vietnam Expanding Machinery Trade

UnknownWhile both Vietnam and Myanmar are both near the same global region, it is often dominated economically by nearby superpower China. For Vietnam to build their economic power, they must improve trade relations with Myanmar. There was recently an expo for Vietnam businesses in Yangon City. He purpose was for these businesses to find ways to increase trade with Myanmar.

The issues with trade in the region go beyond logistics and transportation. It is about economy. Vietnam has many problems when trying to send shipments to Myanmar. They face stiff competition with local businesses in Myanmar and other trading nations in Asia. Specifically, China is the big threat since it shares a border with both nations.

In the past few months, exports to Myanmar from Vietnam have increased tremendously. The commodity that is getting much of the attention includes construction equipment. Many companies in Vietnam are receiving great heavy machinery shipping rates to send their equipment to Myanmar. In the future, it has been recommended that Vietnam continue to focus on trading these machines to Myanmar.

Looking ahead in the future, Vietnam might want to export more products and even more services, including information technology, to Myanmar. Some experts say that the only thing Vietnamese businesses should focus on are investments into the growing productivity in Myanmar. Still, it is important for companies that build heavy machinery to get a leg up on the competition. A trusted freight forwarder with experience in machinery shipping is something that these businesses should consider.

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Truckload Rates Increase

file000417094001While trucking comprises the largest share of freight trucking in the US, with about 70%, the freight trucking rates are starting to increase. That means shippers will soon have to pay more for moving their cargo by truck. The Journal of Commerce reports that US Truckload rates are up 3.8% year-over-year in April 2015. This is based off of a study from Cass Information Systems. Overall, trucking rates are up about 5%. This might not sound like a lot, but when compared to other forms of transportation, and when you consider that 5% can mean a lot for a supply chain, then it really adds up.

There are many circumstances that attributed to this recent truckload increase. Capacity might be the biggest culprit. It is no secret that capacity is hurting the trucking industry, and the concerns about the amount of space on a truckload are having an impact on rates. New regulations are forcing trucking companies to recover their expenses through rate increases. These new laws include driving times, electronic logging and speed limits. Finally, truck drivers are also responsible for the increased rate. There is a lack of available truck drivers. Carriers, eager to keep their current drivers happy, are giving them raises.

While the economy is still in the same state, and spot market rates are down, it is a surprise to see truckload rates increases. Even intermodal rates are down, though only to stay competitive with trucking. The best way to get a great truckload rate is through a knowledgeable freight forwarder who has the right partnerships.

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Discount for Shipping to the Port of Antwerp

url-1The maritime shipping industry is trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Everyone from carriers to freight forwarders are doing their part to be green. There is a recent law in certain parts of the World that states that vessels must maintain certain low sulfur requirements. Since these emission laws are in place for a few months now, it appears that pollution from ships is still a growing problem. Further action must be done to fight this global problem.

The Journal of Commerce is reporting a new green initiative at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium. They are providing a new incentive to ships that go beyond current environmental regulations to lower their emissions levels. Here’s how the incentive works: vessels that utilize alternative technology to lower emissions further will receive a discount that could amount to 30% at port dues every time they arrive at Antwerp. The 30% includes the Environment Shipping Index discount. This massive discount for the carriers could also result in lower ocean freight shipping rates for shippers. Thus, shippers should look into this. This incentive begins on June 1st and will last for three years, with a gradual reduction in the discount starting in 2016.

There are some reported examples of how vessels can earn this discount. The best way is to use liquefied natural gas power at a minimum of 24 hours before arriving at the port. Another fine example is using closed-system scrubbers. Hopefully, initiatives like this result in lower carbon emissions to help the environment.

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Importer Fraud Hurts Venezuelan Economy

WCLC FRAUD-Red-Stamp-335X189Venezuela employs a currency controls program, which provides subsidized dollars to companies to import low-cost goods for their citizens. There is a large need in Venezuela for food and other goods to be transported through ocean freight shipping. However, most importers do not want bolivares, the Venezuelan currency, and rather have US dollars.

It seems that many importers, both private and government-run companies, created schemes to augment the value of their cargo to Venezuela. In turn, they would use the currency controls program to exchange the US dollars for a higher profit of bolivares. And many of these importers would ship little to no actual goods at all. One study found that these fraudulent activities resulted in nearly $70 billion stolen over a ten-year period.

Meanwhile, this massive loss of dollars is creating an economic black hole in Venezuela. The foreign currency reserves are at low levels. Oil, the nation’s leading export, is also at a record low rate. All of these circumstances led to shortages of goods and barren shelves in stores in Venezuela. Meanwhile, hundreds of companies have been found to break the law and ship in goods with prices that were false. No punishments have been issued and there have been accusations of bribes.

Some of this money has been laundered to the US. If your company wants to ship containers to Venezuela, it is best to work with a great freight forwarder that can help you avoid the fraudulent activities in Venezuela. Hopefully, the importer schemes that plague this nation will soon end.

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Smuggled Guns with Shipping of Machinery

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATypically, when a shipper gets a heavy machinery quote, there are a few decisions. First, the shipper decides to ship their machinery in a container. And second, usually, there is only the equipment in that container.

Federal officials recently found something to the contrary. Inside of a shipping container with construction equipment, there was something else. Specially, something else besides the Bobcat Skid Loaders that was in transit. Inside that container, there were white plastic bags that contained more than 100 guns and 16,000 rounds of ammunition. This occurred at the Port of Norfolk, Virginia.

4 people in Iowa were charged with stockpiling these guns from the US in an elaborate scheme to make money via wire transfer by smuggling weapons illegally to Beirut, Lebanon. In addition, federal officials found that they also transported containers to Lebanon several months ago and made money. The four men remain in Federal custody pending trial, with bail revoked. Federal officials are still trying to determine who in Lebanon was going to receive the weapons. One possibility is the terrorist group Hezbollah. Federal officials were tipped off by a suspicious gun storeowner, who saw the group of suspects stockpiling vast amounts of guns and ammunition. Law enforcement officials also found guns and ammunition in their homes.

Despite this one instance of smuggling weapons, it is perfectly safe to transport heavy machinery through maritime shipping. Companies ship equipment everyday to the Middle East. In case you have any concerns about this, speak to your trusted freight forwarder.

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US Dollar Improving Trade

file701273615885As the value of the US dollar increases, so does the economic might of the US economy. A great example of this might is with the trading of goods to the US. A stronger US dollar will raise ocean freight shipping rates for transporting goods and it increases the types of services available to supply chains for moving those goods to the US.

The Journal of Commerce reports of a study from Drewry Maritime Research on this issue and the impact that the stronger US dollar has on pulling cargo to the US. It seems that European exports to the US are up 10.3% years over year. This is incredible news for the US economy and the ports on the East Coast that receive the goods from Europe. There was also an increase in cargo arriving at the East Coast ports during the end of 2014, but much of this was attributed to the congestion issues impacting the West Coast, which forced cargo to be transshipped to the East Coast for entry to the US.

During the 10.3% increase to the US, freight going to Europe dropped 7.6% this year. The reason is because of a Euro that is weaker and not improving like the US dollar.

Meanwhile, as a result of this increase in US-bound cargo, shipping carriers are offering new services from Europe to the US. If your company is interested in using these new and special services, speak to your trusted freight forwarder to schedule a booking today.

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Trucking Earns Record Revenue

file000417094001They say that by taking the temperature of the US trucking industry, you could properly evaluate the temperature of the US economy. And with the economy picking up momentum during the past years, it is obvious that trucking is improving as well. In fact, trucking companies in the US had a record setting year.

Despite major obstacles that the trucking industry deals with, including a truck driver shortage of over 40,000 (and growing) and capacity issues that might seem daunting, the trucking industry shinned. In 2014, the US trucking industry posted a record $700 billion in revenue. This total represents a 2.6% revenue increase from 2013. A big reason for the increase in revenue to trucking carriers is because of their partnerships with freight forwarders.

In 2014, trucks carried 9.96 billion tons of cargo. This represents 68% of all US freight. Thus, trucking is still the dominant form of transportation in the US, although that could change in a few years as intermodal begins to rise.

The revenue increase for trucking is a bit of surprise. With fuel prices down, most trucking companies are lowering their fuel surcharge, and thus lowering freight trucking rates. Still, they were able to increase their revenue.

This revenue increase may seem like all good news. However, the truck driver shortage is only going to get worse. Currently, there are 7 million people employed by trucking in some form. The average truck driver is 7 years older than the average worker in other industries. The trucking industry must solve this growing problem.

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