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Dispatch from MJBizCon 2022

Dispatch from MJBizCon 2022

SiShips was on the Ground for MJBizCon 2022, the Biggest Professional Cannabis Event of the Year

Cannabis is moving fast, and SiShips is helping it move even faster. As domestic and international laws evolve, hemp and cannabis is quickly becoming one of the quickest growing sectors in the agricultural industry. 

SiShips has been working with growers to import supplies like grow lights and processing machines over the last few years. Then, following the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 we were able to begin shipping hemp and its derivatives. 

Much of our business at SiShips comes from interacting virtually with our clients, so it’s always a pleasure to meet the people using our services in person. With tens of thousands of attendees and dozens of speakers spread across four days in Las Vegas, MJBizCon 2022 provided the perfect opportunity to expand relationships in the hemp community.

mjbizcon 2022 las vegas hemp cannabis marijuana legalize recreation legalization international thcChanging Hemp Regulations

The legality of cannabis is a major political issue being debated in the United States and the rest of the world. You’ve probably seen discussion of legalizing hemp or maurijuana on the news. As of writing, recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in 21 states and Washington, D.C.; 16 states have legalized medical use of cannabis. Internationally, it is legal to use cannabis recreationally in Canada, Georgia, Malta, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay.

At the moment, it is legal to ship hemp products that contain no more than .03% THC internationally. Lobbyists hope this limit will be raised in the near future. As more states work to legalize maurijuana domestically, in addition to hemp, it is certain the international regulations will follow.

What Happened at MJBizCon 2022

MJBizCon 2022 sounds like a dream for cannabis enthusiasts—320,000 square feet of exposition space, more than 1,400 exhibitors, and sessions with celebrities like comedian Jim Belushi and football stars Ricky Williams and Calvin Johnson, Jr.—but, it’s more than fun and games. This event is exclusively for cannabis professionals. 

We were able to walk the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center and get up close and personal industry insiders. Just like Gen Con 2022, MJBizCon 2022 let us connect with current and future clients. Also, we got to see in person some of the advanced equipment we can help our clients ship. Getting a feel for the size and heft of the machines enables us to assist our clients even better. 

All in all, it was a great week to do business in Las Vegas and have a little fun while we were at it.  cannabis mjbizcon 2022 las vegas professional experiences networking greenhouse grow lights equipment

Looking at the Future of Cannabis

Just this month, November 2022, five states voted on amendments to legalize marijuana in all forms. While the amendments only passed in Maryland and Missouri, the future is bright for the cannabis industry. There has been a massive groundswell for legalization over the last decade, since Colorado became the first state for recreational maurijuana in 2012. Legalization has led to big profit returns for vendors who were able to capitalize early.

Next year, lawmakers look to improve the hemp industry with a new 2023 farm bill. The incredible demand for CBD-based products will drive these changes. The United States Department of Agriculture estimated the hemp industry to be worth over $800 million. (And that’s with the current restrictions!) 

SiShips will continue to pay close attention to the hemp industry and other major growth sectors. We make sure we are up to date with the latest shipping regulations so we can provide the best service to our clients, giving them an advantage over their competitors.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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SiShips Launches New Mobile App

Exciting New Way to Manage Freight Forwarding Available on Google Play Store Now

Freight forwarding is officially at your fingertips. Sheltered International is excited to announce that, as of June 27th 2022, our SiShips mobile app is now available on the Google Play store for Android devices. UPDATE (11.01.22) The SiShips mobile tracking and quote tool app is now available on the Apple App Store for iOS devices! Specifically optimized for the iPad, our clients are now able to quote, book and track shipments on all of their mobile devices. At Sheltered International, we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to blend cutting edge technology with personalized shipping expertise. Our new mobile app is just another way that we are putting control back in the hands of you, the shipper.

Mobile App to Combine Information and Efficiency

Our new app is truly the best of both worlds. Sheltered International will maintain our hands-on approach to freight forwarding and combine our personal experience with real-time data tracking—now just a touch away, thanks to the SiShips app. Our team is fully accessible and responsive, but without the clunky delay of a barrage of emails and endless phone calls.

Whether your cargo is traveling through the air, across the ocean, by rail or by truck, you will be able to survey its location with near instantaneous updates. You can now manually check these updates on the app, or turn on Push Notifications for even more convenience.

Current clients will be able to use their login credentials to get started immediately; new clients looking to get started can get in touch with us to begin using our new services as soon as possible.

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Part of Tradition of Embracing Technology at Sheltered International

Our new mobile app is the next step in the evolution of freight forwarding and Sheltered International remains enthusiastic about our role shepherding the industry towards the modern era. Within the last twelve months, Sheltered International has added around the clock rail tracking and managed transportation to our extensive portfolio of freight forwarding services. All of our services, including rail tracking and managed transportation, will be accessible on the app. 

The mobile app will exist alongside our desktop software with continual updates. All new services that Sheltered International will roll out to clients in the future will also be available on the app.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art desktop and mobile software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software and new mobile app, contact us today.

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Ocean Carrier vs. Drayage Carrier Fees

How Port Congestion and Port Fees Affect You

No one likes port congestion. It causes supply chain delays and missed deadlines, but, worst of all, port congestion can lead to additional ocean carrier and drayage carrier fees.

Ocean carriers refer to the vessel and vessel operators physically transporting goods between international ports. The next step in the supply chain are drayage carriers, which transport goods from ports to their destination. Drayage often refers to trucking and short distances known as “the first mile” on an export or “the last mile” on an import. Unfortunately, both ocean carriers and drayage carriers charge extra fees for delays, wait times, and more.

The federal government is looking to help alleviate the pressure of some of these charges with the passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA 2022). This bipartisan law is designed to help American importers and exporters, especially agricultural exporters, save on costs. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 applies to ocean carrier fees, so it is important to understand the distinction between ocean carrier and drayage carrier fees.trucking detention demurrage port congestion

Charges from the Ocean Carrier

There are several key terms to know when discussing charges and fees from an ocean carrier. 

Per diem, also known as detention, is the fee from an ocean carrier for each day past the number of “free” days a container can be away from port. Ocean carriers charge per diem/detention fees as an incentive for customers to return their shipping containers as quickly as possible, so the containers can be used again.

The reverse of detention is demurrage. This refers to the fee assessed by the terminal if your cargo remains at port past the Last Free Day. 

The Last Free Day is the last day of a predetermined period of free storage time in which the goods can be picked up by a drayage carrier before incurring a demurrage fee. Free days depend on your contract and type of drayage carrier (rail, truck, or air), but are typically 2-3 days. 

Charges from the Drayage Carrier

Likewise, here are a few definitions to be aware of when looking over drayage carrier fees.

A pre-pull is when a container is picked up from the port and stored at a different location, instead of being delivered immediately. Pre-pulls are used when free days at the port will run out. They are less expensive than costly demurrage fees.

Wait time is an hourly charge, also known as a trucking wait fee, for each hour it takes to the full container to be updated or unloaded on the truck. Most trucking companies and drivers will allow a small amount of free wait time before charging for additional time. 

As you can see by now, a seamless workflow between ocean carriers and drayage carriers is key to keeping costs down. That’s where a managed transportation expert like SiShips can make a huge difference on your bottom line.  

international port ocean container shipping news osra ocean shipping reform act 2022

Another common set of fees assessed by drayage carriers have to do with the chassis. Chassis are the specialized trailers that are used by trucks to transport ocean containers on the road. Drayage carriers charge a rental fee for these chassis, and an additional fee known as a chassis split, if the truck driver must go to an extra location to pick up a chassis before arriving to pick up the container from the port.

How the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 Can Help You

Ocean carrier and drayage charges are linked and have a large effect on each other. However, they are separate fees from separate entities and, while logistically they affect each other, the charges are not related.

President Biden signed OSRA 2022 into law on June 16, 2022. This law created new oversight for the Federal Maritime Commission to address unfair charges and unreasonable denial of American exports. In short, OSRA 2022 was made to combat detention and demurrage charges incurred due to port congestion and shipping uncertainty. Additionally, California Gavin Newsom signed AB 2406 into law on September 30, 2022. AB 2406 will go into effect on January 1, 2023. This law will prevent detention and demurrage fees due to circumstances beyond the control of drayage carriers. Reactions to the California law are mixed. Truckers and cargo owners are pleased with the law, but the terminals are concerned about loopholes in the nuance of the law. 

However, it is clear that federal and state level governments are taking upheaval in the shipping industry seriously and are looking for both short and long term solutions.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Weakening Markets Lead to Trans-Pacific Rate Drops

Trans-Pacific Rate Drops Expected to Last Through End of Year

After generating record-breaking profits during the pandemic, shipping companies are feeling the squeeze of recent inflation. Container carriers are planning on blanking nearly 700,000 TEU in the month of October. Carriers are looking to entice customers back with lower rates. This appears to be one of the best times in recent memory for those looking to transport products internationally, especially between China and the United States.

These trans-Pacific rate drops are not entirely unexpected. The rates that began rising to unimaginable heights during the pandemic stemmed from mostly situational factors. China’s aggressive zero-Covid policy led to shutdowns of their largest ports in Shanghai. This created backlogs which shifted to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, among others. Protests from truckers over vaccine mandates and union regulations led to more delays. However, as the impact of coronavirus has lessened, the economy has been able to work through those issues. Even last month when it appeared a railroad strike could cripple the supply chain again, President Biden stepped in to keep the wheels moving. 

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Decrease Imports Lead to Trans-Pacific Rate Drops

The biggest factor in the trans-Pacific rate drops is a decreased number of imports. Inflation has led many Americans to tighten their belts and reduce spending on physical goods. Experts forecast growth as little as 7% in the retail sector, and only 1% when adjusted for inflation. This is the smallest year-over-year growth in the last decade and stands in stark contrast to last year’s growth of nearly 15%. 

Retail is not the only area where imports are shrinking. The U.S. Energy Information Association reported that U.S. crude oil imports were down 500,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Exports, however, continued to rise. Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine, worsening the energy crisis in Europe, has exacerbated global inflation, as well. 

Increased Space in Domestic Ports

A side effect of diminished imports is the backlog of ships in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has been almost completely eradicated. “Container ships have basically returned to normal,” said Kip Louttit, Executive Director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California. “The remainder of the nine in the backup are 50 to 150 miles offshore.” The ability to manage the congestion is a combination of strict management of arriving ships and support from other ports. 

trans-pacific rate drop rates ocean pacific freight shipping The increased capacity of west coast ports has helped to lower rates. Container ship dwell times and truck turn times have both decreased. While blank sailings compared to this time last year have increased, “This does not necessarily indicate a major trend change,” Adam Szabo, a shipping analyst for Sea Intelligence, told “It may just very well be that carriers do not announce or indicate many blank sailings so far ahead.” Either way, the current drop in rates provides an interesting opportunity for international business.

Railroad Rates also Down

Once goods have reached the United States, they are finding even cheaper rates for domestic transportation at the moment. Union Pacific Railroad is reducing their rates from Southern California and J.B. Hunt Transport is forgoing their peak season surcharges. This is not a decision transporters take lightly, as surcharges were as high as $5,000 per container this time last year.

The decrease in railroad rates can be attributed to several factors. First, the weakening consumer market is creating less demand. This works in conjunction with the slowing of imports from China and other countries. Second, the lower rates appear to be a step for railroads to become more competitive with trucking rates. 

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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WHO: China’s Zero-Covid Policy is Not Realistic

Omicron Variant Causing New Challenges for China’s Zero-Covid Policy

china shanghai beijing zero covidOver the past two years, the world has alternatively applauded and criticized China for its approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic. During the peak of the outbreak, 960 million people were living under some form of lockdown when China first instituted their “zero-COVID” policy. The tough regulations were viewed as a success when restrictions were lifted after five months in May 2020. Individual cases were met with swift action, including shutting down Shanghai Disneyland for two days last November after a single guest tested positive for COVID-19. However, as Shanghai approaches two full months of a strict lockdown in the spring of 2022, it is becoming increasingly clear a zero-COVID policy is unsustainable with the Omicron variant. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, noted during remarks last Tuesday that the virus is drastically different from the original variant identified in Wuhan. “We know the virus better and we have better tools, including vaccines, so that’s why the handling of the virus should actually be different from what we used to do at the start of the pandemic.” Predicting the animus from China following his comments, Tedros added, “regarding their choice of policies, it is up to every country to make that choice.”

Global Balancing Act to Curb Omicron Transmission

Other members of the WHO have echoed support for Tedros’ comments. WHO Emergencies Director Michael Ryan recommended China reconsider its approach to curbing the virus and any measures to combat the spread must show “due respect to individual and human rights”. The WHO has acknowledged extinguishing COVID-19 worldwide is impossible. At the current moment, the focus is on lowering transmission and lessening the impact on society and the economy. “That’s not always an easy calibration,” continued Ryan. 

President Xi of China has doubled down on the zero-COVID policy. The Chinese government has made it clear any critics will be punished.

WHO Chief Censored in China

China’s displeasure with the comments from the head of the WHO is apparent. Both the criticism of the zero-COVID policy and Tedros himself have been censored on popular Chinese social media sites Weibo and WeChat

This comes as a surprising turn of events. The United States had initially criticized Tedros for his support of China’s extreme response to COVID-19. Then president Donald Trump went as far as to initiate the process of withdrawing the United States from the WHO. This decision was reversed by President Biden upon assuming the office. The United States has historically been the largest funder of the WHO.

tedros director who world health organization president xi jinping china chinese coronavirus international freight forwarding

BEIJING, CHINA – JANUARY 28: Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, (L) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, on January 28, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Naohiko Hatta – Pool/Getty Images)

Economic Fallout from China’s Zero-Covid Policy

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, is slowly making its way out of lockdown. Some shopping malls and markets have reopened. The next step is public transportation resuming operation for limited hours. There are several hundred cases being reported each day. However, this is significantly less than the tens of thousands reported during the peak of the outbreak.

Even if the Chinese government were to lift their domestic zero-COVID policy, the international forecast is not so good. Overseas travel, including freight forwarding, would likely remain severely hampered. The lack of a mass-vaccination program and drop-of-the hat lockdowns following Omicron-related cases has many companies reconsidering their presence in China.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software bringing you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control. We offer efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Shanghai Lockdown Squeezes Supply Chain

China’s Stringent Zero Covid Policy Strikes a Barely Recovered Supply Chain

The supply chain continues to limp along on its Sisyphean struggle back to normal. An outbreak of Covid-19 cases tied to the Omicron variant have caused China to take drastic measures and issue a near total shutdown of Shanghai, one of the world’s most populous cities.

The Shanghai lockdown is notable for several reasons, not the least of which it is the largest lockdown in China since Wuhan, widely believed to be the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Sunday, March 27th, there were roughly 6,000 cases reported in all of China, with about half of the confirmed cases in Shanghai. This number may seem infinitesimally low compared to other countries, but China has adopted a “Zero Covid” policy for the majority of the pandemic and an outbreak, even of this size, is a major cause for concern for the government.

shanghai ningbo hong kong beijing port lockdown supply chain bottleneck freight forwarding international shipping

Photo courtesy of Pat Whelen.

Effects on Freight Forwarding

Numerous financial services headquartered in the city and the Shanghai Stock Exchange have shifted as many services as possible online. Local restaurants (such as international chains: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC) have shuttered their doors. Factories and shopping malls are closing for the time being, as well, with any workers who can work remotely being encouraged to do so. Unfortunately, Shanghai’s port, the largest port in the world, does not have that option. Even still, the plan is to maintain operations under the “essential services” label.

While the Shanghai port will still be open, freight forwarders are being encouraged to use alternate ports due to trucking issues and other restrictions in the city. The Shanghai airport is still operating at a normal level, but that could change if more cases are found and the lockdown is extended past April 5th. It is advisable at this moment to prepare for worst case scenarios. 

The capital city of Beijing is experiencing trucking delays due to its own set of restrictions; elsewhere, the Hong Kong border provides a different set of issues. The Ningbo terminal, which has previously experienced pandemic-related disruptions in service, is a recommended alternative until the lockdown in Shanghai is lifted.

Details of the Shanghai Lockdown

China is taking extraordinary steps with the Shanghai lockdown. The current plan is to shutdown the city in two halves; east of the Huangpu River will completely shut down except for essential services for four days, then the side west of the river will do the same. The east side of the city is mostly the business district and the west is more residential. Certain financial institutions called employees to their offices before the lockdown went into effect so they could sleep at the office for the duration of the lockdown. The hope is this split lockdown will isolate any cases of Covid-19 without completely disrupting the local, national and international economy.

shanghai port tesla plant huangpu shutdown lockdown residents coronavirus omicron automotive computer shenzenDuring this time, Shanghai is taking on the extensive task of testing every single person who calls Shanghai home—for those of you doing quick math, that’s over 3 million tests per day for the 25 million people who call the city home.

Continued Impacts on the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry continues to be one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Tesla has announced a pause in production in their Shanghai plant until at least Thursday, March 31st. Incidentally, CEO Elon Musk announced he had tested positive for Covid-19. All of this comes at a time when Tesla stock prices are, against all odds, skyrocketing amongst rumors of a potential stock split.

Despite delays in the supply chain and rises in gas prices, forecasters remain bullish. However, these new lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine are squeezing the supply chain about as thin as it can possibly go. US auto sales are slumping, with finger pointing at chip shortages, inventory size and other possible culprits. The reality is less affluent buyers are being kept out of the automotive market. Car sales are expected to fall 24% in March and 16% in the first quarter. Until the lockdowns are lifted and bottlenecks clear, inventories will continue to shrink and prices will continue to rise.

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Shipping Delays Reverberate from Russia Sanctions

Russia Cut Out of Global Shipping

Russia sanctions rock the global economy following the unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February. Now, as the dust begins to settle from Russia’s first salvo and ensuing sanctions from the rest of the world, the picture of how the global supply chain and shipping industry will be affected is becoming clearer.

In line with sanctions, Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM have suspended most deliveries to Russia, the world’s 11th largest economy. The refusal to deliver “non-essential” goods is in line with numerous other companies that have suspended sales in Russia such as Apple, Google, Ford and Harley-Davidson.

odessa ukraine kiev kharkiv belarus russia mediterranean black sea invasion war

Photo courtesy of Obv Design via Unsplash.

Full Extent of Impact Remains to Be Seen

While foodstuffs and medical supplies are still being allowed into Russia, ports and customs are seeing significant delays due to the need to screen all shipments. Maersk, in particular, is advising shippers to be aware of the risks of transporting perishable goods and can make no promises of when they might be delivered. 

As we saw last year with the blockage in the Suez canal, seemingly isolated incidents can have large ripple effects across the globe. A supply chain that is already stretched thin is not helped by extended delivery times on the European and Asian continents. Not just limited to the sea, Maersk has canceled rail transport between Europe and Asia until further notice. 

Also being hit hard by sanctions is Russian ally-Belarus. The EU has banned over 70% of Belarusian exports for its supporting role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The major sectors that could see repercussions are wood, timber, steel, and iron, along with cement, rubber and fuels.

Difficulty Processing Payments from Russia

maersk mcs cma switzerland belarus russia ukraine invasion putin shipping delays global supply chain

Photo courtesy of Jacob Meissner via Unsplash.

Perhaps the strongest sanction to hit Russia is the removal of seven major Russian banks from SWIFT. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, is a secure financial messaging service based in Belgium that enables international companies to complete transactions with each other. While Russians will feel this more acutely in their daily lives than other citizens, it does affect the global economy and will not help with the current rate of inflation.

Banning any country from SWIFT effectively freezes all of their assets and makes it impossible for them to perform international business transactions. For example, Maersk, a Danish company, is currently unable to accept payments from any Russian company. No matter what happens as the conflict develops, there is literally no international business or shipping Russian operators can participate in until SWIFT lifts its ban. 

Some analysts speculate that aid might come from the East. In 2015, China established the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) in an effort to increase the power of the yuan and lessen the traditionally isolationist country’s reliance on western banks. Experts caution that this is unlikely, however, as only direct participants can use CIPS. Of the 76 direct participants, almost all are Chinese banks or closely-related overseas subsidiaries of those banks.

Complications for Humanitarian Aid

One of the strongest negotiation points where NATO, Ukraine and Russia have managed to agree in principle is the need for humanitarian corridors during the invasion. Though the U.S. has banned trade with the two Ukrainian regions recognized as independent by the Kremlin, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreigh Assets Control has issued six licenses to ensure humanitarian efforts are not negatively impacted. Those licenses include a short-term wind down of trade activities, imports of food, medicine and medical devices, and continued operation of telecommunications, mail and Internet.

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product. 

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Post Chinese New Year Shipping Outlook

The Sun Rises in the East

As 2021 drew to a close, America faced a tough road ahead due to a historic rise in inflation and European growth slowed due to rising energy costs. The, as for now temporary, delay of the Nord 2 Pipeline has contributed to the high price of energy, as well. Russia’s incursions into Ukraine have made the outlook in Europe even foggier. As we examine the Chinese shipping outlook, it is clear economies from every continent are more intertwined than ever.

Following the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entering into effect on January 1, 2022, the Asia-Pacific region looks to lead economic growth through the remainder of the year. This year’s Lunar New Year celebrations were slightly milder than usual with many Chinese citizens staying home due to pandemic restrictions. Now that the Lunar New Year festivities are winding down alongside the decrease in Omicron cases, Chinese enterprise is poised to explode. 

shipping lines freight forwarding q1 outlook lunar new year pacific atlantic

Renewed Hope for Sino-American Relations

Despite a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing-hosted Olympics, the economic relationship between China and the United States looks to improve in 2022. A leading reason for this rosy outlook is the power of the RCEP, as the world’s largest free trade agreement. In fact, US companies’ investments in 2021 increased 30.9% year-on-year and look to continue on the same trajectory. The global economy as a whole is projected to rebound this year, creating more investment opportunities for multinational corporations in America, China, and other countries.

Another benefit of the RCEP is creating elasticity in regional supply chains. One of the important provisions in the historic agreement is improving the division of labor among the 15 member states. Moving on from Covid-19, everyone is looking for ways to protect the supply chain and this agreement will be effective for years to come.

Impact of Covid-19

Compared to the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries and corporations appear to be more in control of proper responses to outbreaks. The Omicron variant created a series of difficulties, but the spike combined with the Lunar New Year could have resulted in catastrophic backlogs at Chinese and American ports. While there are still delays and tightened capacity at ports around the world, a combination of ever-increasing access to vaccines and preparedness by private companies has mitigated worst-case scenarios. For example, Maersk is one of several companies to secure extra storage and transportation to ride out the Lunar New Year downtime.

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Shipping Rates Remain High

2021 was a banner year for shipping companies and 2022 looks to be much the same. Q1 began with high costs as everyone prepped for the Lunar New Year holiday. As we enter Q2, stores needing to restock depleted inventories will keep those rates at the same price or push them even higher. Deutsche Bank is predicting Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd rates will be up 30% or higher compared to 2021—a previous record. 

Even less excitable forecasts have to contend with the potential outbreak of another Covid variant, continued labor negotiations and the possibility of a global military conflict, all of which would escalate shipping costs for every route.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Border Protests at the US-Canada Border Torpedo Supply Chain

Auto Industry Losing Millions of Dollars Weekly

With new cases of the Omicron variant beginning to lessen, there were hopes by many life might slowly return back to a pre-pandemic state. February is a month that traditionally feels the brunt of a tightened supply chain due to Lunar New Year celebrations, but this year the strain on the supply chain is coming from border protests on the North American continent.

Three border crossings have been closed or affected by a group of Canadian truckers who are protesting Covid mitigation measures. Thousands of truckers have joined forces to fight a mandate that all Canadian truckers must be fully vaccinated or quarantine in their homes for two weeks after crossing the US-Canada border. The protests have been declared unlawful by police, but for the majority of the protests practically zero arrests have been made.

border crossing us canada trucker protest vaccine exemption mandate

What Caused the Border Protests?

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” began in the western Canadian provinces with the goal of driving to the Canadian legislative capital, Ottawa, and remaining there until the mandate was lifted. Previously, truckers had been exempt from any form of vaccine mandate in an effort to keep the supply chain operational during the height of the pandemic. Since arriving in Ottawa, the truckers and other like-minded protesters have effectively shut down the city. There were rumors that similar protests might occur in Los Angeles, who hosted Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, February 13th.

The protest has spread from the capital to border crossings in multiple Canadian provinces, crippling the trade of goods between the United States and Canada. The Ambassador Bridge, which carries over one quarter of all trade between the two countries has attracted the most attention from protesters and media, alike.

Who Is Most Affected?

For the moment, the people feeling the brunt force of the protests are autoworkers at factories in Michigan, Kentucky and Ontario, Canada. Due to a lack of materials, employees’ hours have been cut back. Economists estimate that workers in Michigan, alone, lost $51 million dollars during the week of February 7th to February 13th. Factories typically keep two weeks worth of supplies on hand, but if the bridges remain closed much longer, “then you’re looking at layoffs,” says Carla Bailo, the president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This loss of wages extends throughout the entire community, with people spending less money on food and entertainment while their hours are curtailed. It is a stark reminder of how precarious the global supply chain can be.

Additionally, the communities of Detroit and Windsor, Canada, where the Ambassador Bridge is located, are acutely feeling the pressure of the protests. The required police presence at the border protests, while leading to few arrests, has led to an increase in 911 response times for the rest of the cities. Additionally, in Ottawa, the epicenter of vaccine protests, the downtown area has been in a state of deadlock for several weeks. Businesses are closed simply because it is impossible to get to their doors due to the immense crowds.

The recent lack of steel and aluminum from Canada compounds upon the shortage of semi-conductors to drive up the value of both new and used vehicles. After announcing their earnings report for Q4 2021, Ford stocks fell 6%. However, Ford reported profits of over $10 billion dollars in 2021 and remains “bullish” on 2022.

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When Will the Border Protests End?

On Sunday morning, February 13th, following an injunction from a Canadian judge that entered in to effect on Friday evening, police began to arrest the truckers blockading the border crossings. While tow trucks removed vehicles, hundreds of pedestrian protesters remained. The road from Detroit into Windsor was partially re-opened, but it will take some time for auto plants on both sides of the border to rev back up to full production.

It is difficult to say when the borders will become fully operational, but goods are making their way, slowly, across the border. Prime Minister Trudeau, for the first time, invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday, February 14th, which gives the government more power to suspend citizens’ right to free movement and prevent financial support of the protests. However, the vaccine mandate was not repealed and after seeing the success of their initial protest it is likely there will be subsequent blockades in the coming days.

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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In Conversation with Licensed Customs Broker Michelle Rockwell

The Past, Present and Future of the Customs Industry

Today on the blog, we had the chance to sit down with Michelle Rockwell, a Licensed Customs Broker and Operations Manager here at SiShips. Rockwell is a veritable fount of knowledge for all aspects of importing and exporting. Her career has spanned thirty years in the shipping industry. Rockwell has been a valued member of the SiShips team for the last seven years. Over the course of our conversation we touched on a variety of topics, including Rockwell’s unique experience as a Licensed Customs Broker, what she’s learned about freight forwarding in school and on the job, and the direction she sees the customs industry heading in the future. You can read our conversation below:

Hi Michelle, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start at the beginning, how did you originally become a customs broker? 

Rockwell: On one of my yearly reviews my manager listed taking the broker exam as my goal for the year.  I had worked in all aspects of the industry during my career in international logistics and this was the next step in advancing in my career.

Was freight forwarding or international trade something you studied in school?   

Rockwell: No, I studied travel and tourism

What is an important lesson you learned early on in your career that you still think about today?  

Rockwell: The industry is a fast paced [one] with constant change that only the adaptable survive.

How to Work with Clients as a Custom Broker

What is your personal philosophy when dealing with clients? 

Rockwell: Always be transparent and honest with the customer.  The customer may not always like the truth, however they will respect you.

Do you treat them all the same, or does each receive individualized attention, depending on their wants and needs?  

Rockwell: Each customer requires individual attention depending on their working knowledge, experience, and expectations.

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A Custom Broker’s View of Covid-19

Apologies that we have to bring it up yet again, but how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way you do business?  

Rockwell: We have had to extra care with our customers who are frustrated with the extra challenges they have faced during Covid.  Covid has caused delays throughout the entire supply chain from port congestion, labor shortages, and extremely inflated freight rate. 

What advice do you have for clients that are frustrated with the current global situation? 

Rockwell: Ship earlier than you normally would, check all port options for creative routings, and expect freight rates to be highly inflated and above all remember to be patient as we are all struggling [through] this together.

Are you able to forecast when the industry and the supply chain might return to normal—if “normal” is even a possibility anymore, especially in light of the new Omicron variant?  

Rockwell: At my best guess I would not expect to see any improvement before Chinese New Year 2023

Apart from Covid-19, what is the biggest change factor you have seen over your 30-year career in the customs industry and how do you anticipate the industry to change in the next five to ten years?  

Rockwell: Another big change I have seen is when we changed to ACE for the reporting to US Customs.  This change helped to make the industry a more paperless environment, however it took away the personal relationships you had with US Customs in your local ports. 

We’ll finish with a fun one: if you’re able to share with us, what is the most surprising or unique client you have worked with during your career as a licensed customs broker? 

Rockwell: An individual that imported a Mosaic piece of artwork to hang on their wall that weighed over 600 pounds.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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