World Maritime News

WMNF 06/09/2023


Carrier diversification strategies called into question

Cosco has become the latest container line to promote a new logistics service as part of its container shipping mix, offering a digital end-to-end supply chain product for the Europe-China trade. Cosco is joining many container lines that have moved beyond their traditional remit of shifting boxes on ships from one port to another. This diversification of the sector has been going on for several years. Maersk got the ball rolling with its 2016 decision to reinvent itself as an integrator of container logistics. Since then, others have followed suit. CMA CGM completed its acquisition of Ceva Logistics in 2019 and made other smaller acquisitions before announcing this year that it would acquire Bolloré Logistics. When container demand was down or supply was too high, at least logistics would provide a steady-state income not dependent on the vagaries of ocean transport. But the theory has had mixed results so far. The experience of Maersk indicates that theory and practice are entirely different beasts. In the second quarter, the company’s logistics business generated operating earnings of just $115m on invested capital of $10.5bn, giving a return of just 1.1%.

Read more: Lloyd’s List1Lloyd’s List2


Boxship orderbook remains near peak

Containership newbuilding contracting has slowed since its peak in 2021, but record numbers of new vessels have still entered the fleet this year, according to figures from BIMCO. “Deliveries of new containerships during the first seven months of the year reached a new record high of 1.2m teu in 2023, beating the previous record by 200,000 teu,” said BIMCO chief shipping analyst Niels Rasmussen. He added that new orders year-to-date were below where they stood in 2021 but remained as high as during the 2010s. The 1.3m teu ordered this year had maintained the expanded orderbook, which still stands at just 3,000 teu below the peak of 7.6m teu it reached in March 2023.

Read more: Lloyd’s List


Static inventory levels thwart hopes for demand recovery

According to analysts, carriers hoping that a drawdown of inventories may boost demand for containerized freight may be placing their faith in a misguided narrative. Instead of drawing down on existing inventory, importers have adjusted their volumes to match sales activity while maintaining inventory levels.

Read more: Lloyd’s List


Africa could benefit from supply chain diversification

Africa needs significant investment in infrastructure to improve its chances as a supply chain destination, according to a new report into the continent’s potential from the UN Conference on Trade and Development. African countries’ abundance in minerals and metals vital to decarbonizing the global economy makes the continent an attractive destination for manufacturing, particularly as geopolitical and economic frictions compel manufacturers to look to diversify their production locations. But it warned that venturing into Africa as a supply chain destination would require “enormous investment” in infrastructure, human capital, and technology. “The state of infrastructure development is not yet at a standard and quality comparable to other developing and emerging countries and is one of the main barriers to logistics and supply chains on the continent,” it said.

Read more: Lloyd’s List


Panama Canal seeks to reassure market

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has sought to reassure the shipping industry that it is still open for business despite its well-publicized problems with falling water levels. “The Panama Canal continues its operations at the service of international maritime trade, taking measures to ensure the smooth and safe traffic of ships despite adverse weather conditions,” the ACP said in its latest weekly update. It said that traffic continued on the waterway while more vessels were waiting to use the canal since it brought in draught and transit restrictions. Figures from the ACP show a total of 126 vessels in the queue for transit, 47 of which have reserved bookings and which will pass through “without delay, on schedule.”

Read more: Lloyd’s List


US west coast labor deal ratified

Dockworkers on the US west coast have ratified the tentative labor agreement reached in June, sealing the deal on negotiations that began almost 14 months ago and left ports and shippers in limbo for months. The six-year agreement, reached during a two-week period of coastwide labor action and with the assistance of US acting labor secretary Julie Su, was ratified with 75% of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s rank and file, who began voting last week. The contract, which runs until 2028 as it retroactively starts when the previous one expired last July, should help restore shippers’ confidence in the west coast ports. Some cargo that shifted eastwards is expected to return to the west coast ports, although the extent remains unclear.

Read more: Lloyd’s List


Port Houston joins Portchain’s growing network for vessel arrival software

Port Houston has begun using a data-sharing platform from container terminal technology provider Portchain that will allow it to “digitally agree” with its ocean carrier customers on vessel arrival times. The deal, announced on 17 August, means Houston is the second US operating port to use Portchain, joining South Carolina Ports, which in 2021 began using the software provider to optimize berth planning in Charleston. Both US ports have joined Copenhagen-based Portchain’s growing global network of container terminals and shipping lines in a product it calls Portchain Connect. That product, initially piloted in January 2022 by Hapag-Lloyd, terminal operator Tanger Alliance in the Moroccan port complex of Tanger-Med and two other terminals, is intended to improve the process of coordinating vessels calls through what Portchain Chief Commercial Officer Thor Thorup called a “digital handshake.”

Read more: JOC


Thessaloniki port links with Ashdod for tech boost

The northern Greece port of Thessaloniki has hailed a new technology-focused cooperation pact with the port of Ashdod in Israel as a “pioneering” agreement for the sector internationally. The Thessaloniki Port Authority said the agreement emphasized cyber security and port operating efficiencies. “Both parties will undertake joint initiatives, aiming to respond to issues related to sustainability, which concern the broader port and maritime transport sector,” said the Greek side.

Read more: Lloyd’s List


UK legislation will boost global eBL uptake, says DCSA

The UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act, which received Royal Assent last month, may not look like an obvious game changer for global trade. But supporters say it could do just that when it comes into force next month. The Act provides that an electronic trade document has the same effect as an equivalent paper trade document and that anything done concerning an electronic trade document has the same effect on the document as it would have relating to an equivalent paper trade document. Crucially, this will give electronic bills of lading the same rights as paper bills of lading, which is expected to help the move towards eBLs.

Read more: Lloyd’s List


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