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Transportation News Bulletins - Logistics

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ATA urges improvement to border infrastructure and procedures
Monday, 02 November 2009 00:00

Improving the security and efficiency of freight transportation across borders will require more funds for infrastructure, more reasonable enforcement of trade security program rules, and giving the lead role in coordinating federal efforts to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, Celadon Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Stephen Russell told a congressional panel today.

Speaking on behalf of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Russell told the House Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, House Homeland Security Committee that “closer cooperation and understanding between industry and government will yield an even higher degree of security at our nation’s borders and will improve cross-border operations and the international supply chain.”

The head of the Indianapolis-based trucking company praised the development of low-risk and trustedtraveler programs such as Free and Secure Trade (FAST) and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program (C-TPAT). To participate in FAST, motor carriers must become C-TPAT certified and their drivers must undergo a background check. Carriers benefit by expedited clearance of their equipment, driver, and cargo—as long as it belongs to a C-TPAT importer—in addition to getting access to a lane dedicated for FAST participants.

But today, “the biggest challenge trucking companies continue to face with the C-TPAT/FAST program is the lack of ‘true’ FAST lanes,” said Russell. “This results in low-risk C-TPAT carriers being stuck in the same traffic as non-C-TPAT certified carriers.”

“The end goals of security and efficiency are not mutually exclusive. Though it is impossible to achieve absolute security without bringing trade to a standstill, we can greatly reduce the potential of being targeted by our enemies by managing risk, increasing security awareness among company personnel, and implementing simple cost-effective security measures,” Russell said.

Russell said that another problem with the C-TPAT program is that a single security incident can result in the immediate revocation of a carriers’ C-TPAT status, even before an investigation. If an inspection finds contraband on a C-TPAT carrier’s truck, the carrier can be suspended from the program without knowing if the contraband was placed on the truck during loading of freight or at another point in the supply chain.

ATA has proposed that if a C-TPAT carrier security incident is the company’s first, then CBP should consider investigating first, instead of immediately suspending the carrier. If the investigation shows the carrier was not at fault, it would be put on probation. If the investigation shows a carrier willfully disregarded C-TPAT Minimum Security Criteria, CBP could suspend the carrier and require it to reapply and undergo again a full validation of program requirements.

Russell praised development of Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), an electronic manifest system that captures trade data, clears cargo entering the US, and provides CBP an improved system for targeting, risk analysis, and release of cargo.

“The trucking industry encourages the US government, in cooperation with both Canada and Mexico, to improve and to facilitate the capture and exchange of information on goods and people crossing our land borders,” Russell said. ATA recommends that the US government quickly implement the Smart Border Accord between the US and Canada, the 22 Point Plan between the US and Mexico, and recommendations of the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership. (ATA)

American Journal of Transportation, 11/2/2009

Cartels would have propped up Asia rates
Thursday, 29 October 2009 00:00

The executive director of the European Liner Affairs Association (ELAA) believes rate declines on Asia- Europe services would not have been so severe if the conference system had not been abolished.

The ELAA’s Chris Bourne admitted the current crisis faced by the liner industry was mainly caused by the difference between capacity supply and demand, not the abolition of the conference system in Europe.

But he added: “Even if it is difficult, if not impossible to judge, the freefall of rates on the major Asia- Europe trade might not have been so severe if the conference system had still been active in Europe.”

Statistics recently published by the ELAA show that while volume declines appear to have slowed in the third quarter, its pricing index shows rates remain around 40-45% down on last year.

International Freighting Weekly, 10/29/2009

Newly formed Safety Council to take safety commitment to next level
Monday, 26 October 2009 00:00

WASHINGTON—Secretary Ray LaHood today convened the first meeting of a newly created U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Council formed to tackle critical transportation safety issues facing the department’s 10 operating administrations.

“Now is the time to identify and address the top safety issues that cut across our agencies,” said Secretary LaHood. “The Council will take our commitment to safety, which is our highest priority, to the next level.”

Before taking office, Secretary LaHood saw that many important safety initiatives were being pursued in the department’s agencies without a formal process for sharing data, best practices and strategies. Secretary LaHood created the Safety Council to serve that broad-based safety leadership role and help break down organizational stovepipes, enabling an even stronger safety culture.

The goals of the Safety Council are to further enhance the safety focus throughout all agencies of the department and improve the impact of the department’s safety programs.

The Council, chaired by Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari, is comprised of the heads of the Department’s 10 agencies: the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Maritime Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

Deputy Secretary Porcari said the Council will be action oriented, data driven, emphasize open dialogue about common issues and provide a forum for fresh ideas and new perspectives.

“The Council will enhance the department’s safety culture which should then resonate out into industry,” said Deputy Secretary Porcari., 10/26/2009

Haulage receives an 'injection of optimism'
Monday, 26 October 2009 00:00

Road freight volumes rebounded in September, with forwarders expressing optimism there would be "solid winter" ahead.

Marc Meier, director of overland transport for north-west Europe at Kuehne + Nagel, told IFW that its UK business had seen volumes in September this year, 5% higher than last year.

He said: "The pick-up is in the consumer and hi-tech sectors. Some of it is new business we have won, and some is new products that our hi-tech customers have launched.

"My belief is that consumption is picking up across Europe.

Jorgen Munch, head of European development at Davies Turner, said there had been "a break in the freefall" of demand in the UK, and added that this had injected optimism into the sector.

"We were very busy in the first two weeks of September in particular, and I think it was because companies had run stocks down.

"I think there will be a trend of running stocks down, reordering and running them down again, and a tendency [in future] to hold smaller stock levels and have more frequent deliveries."

Meier said some sectors still faced serious problems, however. "We still have structural issues with industrial customers, while automotive is down 25-30%.”

"But there is also strong demand for transport of recyclable materials, and with new ’floor trailers’ you can take scrap into recycling plants and back-load with conventional cargo."

International Freighting Weekly, 10/26/2009

Is the will mightier than the reality? Or are things really starting to pick up?
Monday, 19 October 2009 12:32

Near the end of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is told to tap her heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…,” and of course, we know how it turns out—she wills her way back to the comfort of Auntie Em in good old Kansas.

Such is how it seems to be in our global economy, and particularly in the shipping industry. After months of mostly negative press reports about the cliff we all fell from, we are now reading more and more positive news (our media concern included).

From top transportation execs predicting various levels of recovery from Q4 ’09 to 2010, to manufacturing and trade indices picking up ever so slightly, but positively—the world, and most importantly, the U.S., seems to be willing itself slowly back into contention.

There are many places to go for clues to recovery, including this issue of Cargo Business News. Just check out the columns of Walter Kemmsies and David Bennett, for starters.

Another interesting resource I’ve found for gauging the pulse of the industry (that, I grant you, is a microcosm of the critical mass) has been on CBN’s own Linkedin group, where various discussion topics are posted to our several hundred members.

One such question posed by a group member was aimed at trying to get the “real story” behind the shipping economy.

Following are some snippets of member responses to this question:

  • “For ocean freight the volumes are getting stronger and carriers appear to be trying to secure freight rate increases, something that 10 months ago was not even a discussion point.”
  • “Ocean freight will lead the recovery as merchants re-stock, particularly for the holidays. Like a freight train, one car moves out at a time until we are all going.”
  • “What you are seeing are idle vessels, but you are also seeing full vessels under the vessel-sharing agreements. Inventories are starting to be replaced, so volumes are starting to increase and vessels will slip back into rotation as they start to fill, but they will still be rationalized in order to control capacity so they will be in a position to increase the rates. Supply and demand curve working at its best!”
  • “As the recovery of the infrastructure continues, we hope to see those LTL shipments beginning to pick up as the smaller components needed for the infrastructure needed; and as we get closer to the holiday season, the trucking industry will hopefully see rises in their bill counts and revenues.”
  • “Keep in mind too, that, as the economy begins to rebound, and allocations are being filled, the ocean transportation world can start to bring back any ships that have been laid up or service lane that was suspended, creating a complete circle of life. The reintroduction of ships and destinations present an empty stow plan that has to be filled, therefore keeping pricing at a steady pace.”

On the one hand, I think these are all intelligent responses from an informed group of working cargo industry pros that deal with different aspects of these issues on a day-to-day basis. 

On the other, I also feel this is a sign of the will starting to take a little more control over the reality; and barring an unforeseen disaster that causes our fragile recovery to stumble, “recovery” may occur sooner than later.

Wouldn’t Dorothy agree?

Cargo Business News, 10/2009

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