Welcome back to OSCL's newsletter and blog.
We hope you all had a fantastic festive season and a great start to the new year.
We are looking forward to another amazing year. A big thank you for your continued support; this will be a fantastic year of growth and development of OSCL's products and services.
Grab a cuppa; this one is a tad longer, as we are catching you up after the break.
Let's get straight into it...
China fared well during the change in COVID lockdown policy. There were fewer interruptions at factories and disruptions to labor and trucking, operations at the ports remained on track, and fewer vessel rollings and cancellations with the shipping lines than anticipated. This is most likely due to the fact the companies and the government had the time to plan and have contingencies in place before the increase in positive cases. We did see a few suppliers close their factories early, extending the Chinese New Year; however, these closures were planned for, and most importers either pre-ordered or factored in delays over the festive and new year period.
It's also been stated that COVID spread very quickly through the communities due to the population density; therefore, the impact was for a short period, and the industry was able to bounce back relatively quickly. According to the Peking University National School of Development, which is considered a highly authorized government institute, “during the last 4-6 weeks, 900 million people in China may have already contracted the virus and recovered”. Yunnan Province saw trade activities surging in the first month of 2023 with neighboring countries, including Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. Experts are predicting a healthy and busy year for Chinese manufacturers and exporters.
We have seen fantastic rate offerings in the first half of February; if you have the capacity, now is the time to ship product as we are expecting to see slight rate increases in March and the possibility of less space being offered as there is talk of lines potentially pulling vessels out of the water to assist with losses during January. NAC negotiations will commence post-Chinese New Year. It will be interesting to see what happens with the global line contracts and how the spot rates play a factor. It will be tricky for the lines to cut new deals. We will keep an eye on this, as the outcomes of these negotiations set the tone for what rates we will be offered.
United States & Canada:
It's an excellent start to the year for the US as demand is returning to the U.S. trucking market, based on high-frequency truckload volume data from FreightWaves SONAR. This data is a good sign as it is a flow-on effect feeding off cargo volumes in and out of the US. We have received feedback that trucking capacity is still higher than demand, so there should be no issue obtaining transport bookings. The Biden-Harris Administration has released its first blueprint to decarbonize the transportation sector. I'll pop the link to the PDF in the news highlights.
Regarding the sea freight market, China-West Coast US rates have recently hit pre-pandemic levels. Congestion is easing, most significantly in LA /Long Beach. There are still significant backlogs in NY/NJ; however, the numbers show slow improvements. Congestion remains significant at Southeast US ports and in Houston. Freightos data shows that rates to ship a 40-ft container from Asia to the US West Coast have decreased by more than 80% since the end of April last year. In general, the softening of the market has mainly been attributed to increased inflation costs, which have weakened consumer spending, reducing the demand for goods. This affects global markets and can be seen in our domestic Australian market.
Canada has had a tough past few months, with their supply chain sector being pushed to what most call a breaking point. In a very similar outlook to our Australian domestic industry, they had to tackle the global pandemic, wildfires, and flooding in British Columbia, to physical disruptions due to blockades and strikes. The physical infrastructure of roads and rails are in desperate need of repairs due to damages as a result of the flooding, affecting the ability of road and rail cargo.
The Canadian government launched the Supply Chain Task Force in October 2022, intending to provide an independent investigation and report on the country's supply chain issues. To date, there is yet to be a formal report released. Supply chain issues for Canadian importers and retailers are expected into 2025, again not too dissimilar to the state of the Australian market. It will be interesting to see how the Canadian Government and supply chain private sector tackle the coming months.
I wanted to start covering India in the blog, as a few clients have mentioned looking at this market as a future trade lane. According to a global survey published by Container xChange this month, companies worldwide are looking to diversify their supply chains in 2023/24. They are considering India and Vietnam as alternatives to China.
As I am sure most of you are aware, India and Australia ratified a free trade agreement at the end of last year. This is fantastic news and does assist importers with mitigating customs duties. As this is a new trade agreement, there have been reports of issues obtaining the required certificates of origin. Our union body reached out to DFAT, and it was stated that the relevant government departments were communicating regarding issuing COOs; this issue should be rectified in the next few weeks. COOs can be issued retrospectively, and we can assist with refunds if required.
The Modi government has invested in developing India's infrastructure to improve and develop the country's manufacturing and exporting capacity. There are currently talks between the US and India, discussing further support and investment from the US as the US explores pivoting away from China. This was further supported in September last year with the introduction of the National Logistics Policy. There has been a significant change to labor laws and investments into building and upgrading landside and port infrastructure. India is bolstering its offerings with its strategic plan to become the new global factory powerhouse.
Freight rates from this part of the world are still reasonably high as the trade lane is still growing, and volumes are still relatively low compared to our trade lane with China. Processes are still slow and can be tedious as we are still dealing with a country undergoing modernization to its exporting and border processes. We believe this is a market to watch and will only continue to get stronger. Please get in touch if you want further information and insight into this market.
2022 was a very tough year for importers and the domestic supply chain sector. We faced it all: labor shortages, the COVID pandemic, strikes, and physical damage to infrastructure from flooding and fires. With increased inflation, the cost of operations and services soared. We saw insane increases in the price of freight and domestic landside charges. We move into 2023 in a very similar position; however, we move into another challenging year armed with experience and robust, resilient, safeguarded supply chains. I feel at this stage; we have all developed the ability to pivot and change direction to meet the ever-changing needs and flows of the market.
Unfortunately, we started the year with increases in landside costs by the ports and our domestic carriers, and they were significant. In some cases, this will be over AUD 100.00 per container in additional port fees. As mentioned in our price increase notice, Quarantine also decided to increase their charges on the formal declarations for sea freight shipments valued at over AUD 1000.00. If you have not looked at the landed costings of your products, now may be an excellent time to see if you need to increase the cost of your products and services to compensate for the overall increase in the supply chain.
I mentioned in the last few blog posts that an independent investigation was launched into the performance of Australia's maritime logistics system. This was due to the significant pressure from Industry and Australian union bodies over the 2021-2022 period. The final report and findings were released on 9 January 2023. The report examines long-term trends in performance, competition, industrial relations, infrastructure, and technology. The findings were not a surprise to most in the industry, and if you can, please take the time to review the key points and the findings. We hope that the outcome of this investigation will lead to domestic reforms.
Read the report here: https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/maritime-logistics/report
Please contact us if you would like us to cover a new market. We would be happy to add additional market summaries to our monthly blog.
News Article Highlights:
- Maersk, MSC to End 2M Alliance, Edwin Lopez, Supply Chain Dive. The world’s two largest ocean shipping lines will part ways after ten years of operating within an agreement. This will see a flow-on effect as this agreement did service the transatlantic and transpacific trade lanes. Read here: https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/maersk-msc-to-end-2m-alliance/641167/
- Blueprint to decarbonize the transportation sector - A Joint Strategy to Transform Transportation. Read here: https://www.energy.gov/sites/default/files/2023-01/the-us-national-blueprint-for-transportation-decarbonization.pdf
- Supply Chain Expert Calls for Strategy to Ease Cost Pressures, Fully Loaded. Read here: https://www.fullyloaded.com.au/logistics-news/2301/supply-chain-expert-calls-for-strategy-to-ease-cost-pressures
- Update on the Hitchhiker Pest Container Survey - Sal Milici - FTA. I may have emailed a few of our clients regarding the potential impacts of increased hitchhiker intervention by Quarantine. Read here: https://www.ftalliance.com.au/news/28309
- Freight train derails on Queenslands central coast, Sky, The Australian. This is an excellent reminder to make sure your transit insurance covers up to the domestic delivery point. Read Here: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/freight-train-derails-on-queenslands-central-coast/video/10b8a1a1a2024a7e142f2a6862219fcd
- $4 million committed to road transport industry projects, Abby Williams, Daily Cargo News. Read Here: https://www.thedcn.com.au/news/law-regulation-trade/4-million-committed-to-road-transport-industry-projects/
Thank you to all the clients who took the time to meet me on my recent trip to Brisbane. It was lovely to meet and greet and catch up with some old faces. Building and developing loyal partnerships is something we really cherish and look forward to continuing to invest in.
We have been looking into some upgrades to our digital supply chain infrastructure. Like any new additions, it takes some time to vet and thoroughly investigate the best platforms and solutions for our business and clients. We will keep you updated as we roll out the improvements.
Thank you again.
We are looking forward to being your one-stop supply chain provider in 2023.
All the best,
Bianca & Steve
I took this in the air, departing Brisbane.
I was lucky to spot the amazing Antonov AN-124 Ruslan transport aircraft when I departed Canberra airport. It was reportedly on a charter to the Australian Defence Force in support of a deployment of trainers to the United Kingdom. It was amazing to see, in person, a very cool aircraft. The photo I took was not the greatest; here is a photo by Darren Boaden.