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Fracht Australia Logistics News - July 2024


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"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour."
- Truman Capote


  • BOX SHIPS OMITTING SINGAPORE CALL AS PORT CONGESTION HITS CRITICAL LEVEL. Congestion in Singapore, the world’s second-busiest container port, has reached a critical level, compounding the shortage of ships and containers. Data from Linerlytica indicates that containerships have to wait up to seven days to berth in Singapore, recently seeing up to 450,000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) of vessels in the queue. In normal circumstances, ships can berth upon arrival in Singapore, or wait half a day at most. Authorities battling congestion have reopened shuttered terminals to alleviate the mounting pressure on the world’s largest transhipment hub.
  • NOUMEA PORT WORKING BUT UNCERTAINTY REMAINS. The port of Noumea is returning to some normality after recent New Caledonian upheavals but carriers remain cautious about the impacts of the ongoing political situation. Neptune Pacific Direct Line has advised its businesses are all “back up and running” in New Caledonia and all 16 NPDL staff from Noumea are safe and accounted for, after riots broke out on the island recently.
  • CHINA LIFTS IMPORT BANS ON MAJOR AUSTRALIAN BEEF EXPORTERS. Agriculture Minister Murray Watt released a statement on 30 May addressing the news of the lifted restrictions on the five Australian meat processing establishments, meaning a total of eight beef processing facilities have now had suspensions lifted, whilst two facilities still have suspensions in place. The bans were imposed between 2020 and 2021 amid diplomatic tensions between the Australian and Chinese Governments, a move that Minister Watt says resulted in a $20.6 billion reduction in exports.
  • THREAT OF CANADIAN RAIL STRIKE LOOMS AGAIN after bid for conciliation fails. Meetings between the Teamsters Union (TCRC) and Canadian National Railway (CN) were abandoned less than halfway through, as the parties refuse to see eye-to-eye.
  • BALTIMORE CHANNEL severed by the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge has fully re-opened to shipping. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced on 10 June that it had restored the Fort McHenry Federal Channel to its original operation dimensions – 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep – for maritime transit through the Port of Baltimore. The multi-agency Unified Command surveyed the channel on June 10 following the removal of wreckage at the 50-foot mudline. The survey certified the riverbed as safe for transit.
  • RESTRICTIONS LIFTING IN PANAMA CANAL as the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced an increase to the number of daily vessel transits, effective this month. On 11 July the number of transits is set to increase to 33, up from the current 32, as an additional slot is added to the Neopanamax locks (bringing the daily number of Neopanamax transits to nine). The total number of daily transits is scheduled to rise again on 22 July, to 34 transits, as an additional slot is introduced to the Panamax locks (bringing Panamax daily transits to 25). 



  • CHINESE CONTAINER MAKERS REVEAL SURGE IN ORDERS. China International Marine Containers (CIMC), the largest container manufacturer, said that container orders were up five-fold in Q1 24, to 494,400 TEU, as the equipment shortage bites. In contrast, reefer orders decreased by 23%, to 9,300 TEU, a trend CIMC blamed on declining consumption of refrigerated goods caused by inflation. Sales of specialised containers fell by nearly half, to 35,000 units, due to lower demand for containers tailored to rail transport. CIMC disclosed the surge in its order volume as Q1 24 revenue rose 22%year-on-year, to $4.5billion, but higher expenses resulted in net profit dropping 54% to $30.18million.
  • GRIMALDI EXPLORES AUTONOMOUS BERTHING FOR PCTCs (Pure car and Truck Carriers). The second stage of a project to develop satellite-guided docking maneuvers for large PCTCs is underway in Europe. The original 2022 initiative, through a partnership between Italy’s Grimaldi Group and the European Space Agency (ESA) within its Navigation Innovation and Support Program (NAVISP), “delivered excellent results” and has led to GSAB2 (Grimaldi Satellite Berthing 2) which got underway last month.
  • CARGO INTEGRITY GROUP REVEALS THE MOST DANGEROUS CARGO FOUND IN CONTAINERS as a list of 15 of the most dangerous cargo types commonly carried in containers has been released. If containers carrying them are mis-declared, or have incomplete or incorrect information about their contents, they are more likely to be involved in incidents. The group has divided the cargo into three types, according to the dangers they pose – reactive hazards; spill or leak risks; and improper packing consequences. Cargo prone to reactive hazards is the most commonly seen in supply chains and can include charcoal and carbon, calcium hypochlorite, lithium-ion batteries, cotton and wool, fishmeal and krill and seed cake.
  • TOTAL CONTAINERS LOST AT SEA hits record low in 2023. The World Shipping Council has released its annual report on containers lost at sea, with a total of 221 containers lost out of 250 million transported. This marks the lowest total annual figure of container loss at sea recorded since the survey began in 2008, significantly breaking the previous record-low of 661 set in 2022.
  • CONTAINER TRADES BACK IN ‘PANDEMIC-LEVEL TERRITORY’ – with rates still rising. The Red Sea crisis and bursts of regional port congestion continue to present problems to container trades, while the looming threat of tit-for-tat tariff wars was causing demand spikes, Xeneta chief analyst Peter Sand told delegates. Container lines are continuing to announce blue water freight rate increases on almost daily basis as confidence grows about a solid peak season for imports at the same time as overseas port congestion spreads. 


  • MELBOURNE LEADS NATION’S AIRFREIGHT EXPORTS IN Q1. Melbourne airport has declared itself the leading hub for Australia’s airfreight exports, ahead of record export volumes that have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. The first quarter of 2024 saw $1.8 billion of locally made produce transit through the airport on the way to foreign markets, including 44,700 tonnes of local cargo, representing 40.2% of the nation’s total air-freight export volume. The top product exported by volume was fresh meat at 15,649 tonnes, while the most valuable product was pharmaceutical goods, with $258.4 million worth sent overseas
  • BRIGHTER OUTLOOK WITH AIR CARGO ON COURSE FOR DOUBLE-DIGIT GROWTH. Air cargo is on a pathway to double-digit growth this year, according to Xenta’s latest analysis, but the US crackdown on Chinese ecommerce has the market hedging its bets. Xeneta noted a “threefold increase” in ocean shipping spot rates from Asia to Europe and the US, compared with the previous year, reduced the cost gap for shippers or forwarders contemplating modal shift to air cargo. Global air cargo spot rates in May rose 9% year on year, to $2.58 per kg, the second consecutive month of growth, and demand was up 12% year on year.
  • AIRFREIGHT MAINTAINS ‘REMARKABLE’ VOLUMES, as e-commerce soars. It seems the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency’s latest rules on e-commerce imports, and more scrutiny of goods, have not impacted airfreight rates. “There are remarkable volumes in the market,” said Niall van de Wouw, chief airfreight officer of Xeneta. “The overall e-commerce volume is occupying more than 50% of airline capacity at the moment.” 


  • QUBE TO ACQUIRE MIRRAT. In shock news Wallenius Wilhelmsen has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the Melbourne International Ro-Ro & Auto Terminal to Australian Amalgamated Terminals. Qube’s wholly-owned AAT will pay $332.5 million for MIRRAT, which is said to be Australia’s largest automotive port terminal and was established in 2016 after Wallenius Wilhelmsen won a 2014 Port of Melbourne tender to redevelop and operate the three Webb Dock West berths. Wallenius Wilhelmsen says it will continue to utilize MIRRAT following the transaction, ensuring services to its customers will not be impacted by the sale. Closing of the transaction is expected in Q3 2024 subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions including regulatory and contractual approvals.
  • DP WORLD MELBOURNE SUFFERING ‘EXTREME CONGESTION’. DPW has recently been undertaking construction works within the terminal to reconfigure the landside truck grids, removing approximately 35% of landside capacity, Container Transport Alliance Australia said in a notice to industry. At the same time, DPW has been experiencing a heavy volume of arriving vessels, with the busy schedule expected to continue well into next month. CTAA’s Neil Chambers said: “The result of these large cargo volumes and reduced landside capacity is akin to trying to pour ten litres into a five-litre bucket!”.
  • OCEANIA NOWHERE GOOD ON GLOBAL CONTAINER PORTS INDEX. In results that are sure to be controversial, the just-released 2023 global Container Port Performance Index rates no Australasian or regional port anywhere near the top 100. East and South East Asian ports excelled in 2023, accounting for 13 of the top 20 places, although regional disruptions impacted port performance everywhere, according to the new report. China’s Yangshan Port earned the top spot for the second consecutive year, while Oman’s Port of Salalah retained the number two position. The port of Cartagena in Colombia ascended to 3rd place. Tanger-Mediterranean of Morocco held steady in 4th, and Tanjung Pelepas Port in Malaysia rounded out the top 5. There is little joy for any port in our region, with highest-scoring Wellington sitting at position 120, with Papeete 193, Bell Bay 197, Timaru 257 and Bluff 258 rounding out the top 5! 



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