Truck and Marine Update

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By Kim Biggar

A synopsis of the July trends in trucking and marine.

Trucking

July 20: ‘I’m Not Willing to Go’: Canadian Truckers Worry about Entering U.S. due to Coronavirus – Global News

Travelling to the United States is likely not on the list of things to do this summer for many Canadians. In fact, a recent Ipsos poll found 93 percent of Canadians believed travelling to the U.S. this summer would be too risky.

But for truckers, who are exempt from Canada’s 14-day isolation rules and whose livelihoods often depend upon making back-and-forth journeys between the two countries, crossing the border isn’t something they can necessarily refuse.

Yet some drivers are doing just that. Worried they could catch the virus and then transmit it to family members and others once back in Canada, they’re turning down work in the U.S. in favour of staying closer to home.

July 23: Report: Wide Use of Self-Driving Vehicles ‘at Least’ a Decade Away – FreightWaves

Driverless vehicles will take at least 10 years to deploy over large areas, and adoption will occur at different rates across the country, according to an MIT research brief.

“We expect that fully automated driving will be restricted to limited geographic regions and climates for at least the next decade,” the authors write.

The brief was published by a university task force created two years ago to examine the future of work during an “age of innovation.”

July 28: All Border Crossings to Collect Personal Contact Details from Truck Drivers – Today’s Trucking

All Canada-U.S. ports of entry will be collecting personal contact information from truck drivers beginning July 30, completing the rollout of a program meant to support contact tracing efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

The Ontario Trucking Association reports that some delays and queues emerged when the process was first introduced earlier this month, but the personal information only needs to be collected once and does not need to be re-entered during subsequent border crossings.

Truck drivers are being encouraged to enter the required information in the federal government’s ArriveCAN app before arriving at the border, reducing the need for border services officers to enter the data in primary inspection lines.

July 30: FBI Warns Truckers That Hackers Could Target ELD Data – Transport Topics

The FBI issued a cautionary notice warning truckers that cyber criminals could target electronic logging device vulnerabilities as a means of seizing business information, but industry experts note that hackers have as yet not found a way to crack into ELD data.

Commands passed into the vehicle network through an ELD could affect functions such as vehicle controls and the accuracy of the console display, the FBI said.

“Cyber criminals interested in stealing data such as personal information, business and financial records, location history and vehicle tracking, or other proprietary data such as lists of customers and cargo can use vulnerabilities in ELDs as a way in to access trucking companies’ enterprise networks and databases,” it noted.

Marine

July 4: Seafarers Still Stranded at Sea as More Test Positive for COVID-19 – The Niche

Shipping groups and seafarer unions are desperately trying to convince governments to allow crew the right to transit after work contracts expire.

Most governments still haven’t listened. An estimated 200,000 crew remain stranded at sea, unable to get back to their homes after their initial work contracts expired.

It will be even harder to convince governments to allow seafarers passage through their ports and airports if more shipboard outbreaks occur.

July 4: Wild Swings in Freight Rates the New Normal Amid Uneven Recovery – gCaptain

Sharp swings in container freight rates are likely to continue this quarter as shipping companies struggle to gauge demand amid an uneven global recovery from the coronavirus.

The cost to ship containers slumped earlier this year as the pandemic pummeled demand, with rates bottoming out in late April. They rebounded steadily with economic activity through May but then jumped 20% last month, as carriers removed capacity from the market.

China’s rapid economic recovery from the outbreak took carriers by surprise. The companies over-estimated the amount of blank sailings needed and are likely to respond with more supply this quarter, said Simon Heaney, senior manager of container research at Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.

“We are now starting to see the unblanking of some Trans-Pacific voyages, as lines correct their previous errors,” he said. “We do anticipate capacity discipline to soften as the risk level recedes and cargoes come back.”

July 7: Are Trans-Pacific Carriers Guilty of Price Gouging? – American Shipper

Spot rates in the trans-Pacific ocean trade continue to reach epic new heights, leading to talk of price gouging.

“Container lines have done well during the global pandemic, but are they profiteering from the crisis?” asked U.K.-based consultancy Drewry.

“Perversely, lines look set to make more money than they have in a long time,” Drewry continued. The practice of “blanking” (canceling) sailings “has paid off handsomely.”

July 10: Key Countries Agree to Help Bring Home Seafarers Stuck on Ships – gCaptain

More than a dozen countries with crucial global shipping hubs agreed to ease port and border restrictions for seafarers to help the more than 200,000 workers still stranded on vessels return home.

Nations including the U.S., Singapore, Greece and the United Arab Emirates said they would ease coronavirus-related restrictions for seafarers and boost commercial flights to help facilitate crew swaps. The pact comes after months of pressure on governments, ports and shippers to find ways to get workers off vessels after a rash of suicides and an uptick in expired contracts.

Seafarers will now get international recognition as “key workers” to enable freer movement and quicker repatriation, following a virtual International Maritime Summit on July 9.

July 13: Some Chinese Ports are Jammed Again on Intensive Testing of Food – American Journal of Transportation

Intensive testing of meat, seafood and other products for the coronavirus has tripled customs clearance times at some major Chinese ports, raising concerns the delays could ensnare global trade flows.

It normally takes about three days to clear the produce but is now taking as long as 10.

China began testing cold food shipments for the virus last month in a move it says is aimed at protecting the public’s health, after imported salmon was singled out as a possible culprit for Beijing’s fresh Covid-19 outbreak in June.

July 13: Shippers Pressured into No-Roll Premiums as Full Ships Give Carriers the Edge – The Loadstar

Shipping lines are using rollovers to bump up freight rates, ‘forcing’ the vast majority of shippers to pay no-roll premiums.

According to one freight forwarder, around 80% of shippers feel they have to pay premiums of $400 to $500 per container on the deepsea trades.

“Otherwise, odds are, you’re going to be rolled,” he said, warning that shippers that won’t pay face lengthy delays.

Increased rates and rollovers have been made possible by carriers’ capacity discipline – in turn, a result of the widespread industry consolidation in recent years.

July 28: Port of Montreal Workers Launch Four-Day Strike – Montreal Gazette

Port of Montreal dock workers on July 27 launched a strike that will end on the morning of July 31. The walkout will see foremen and maintenance personnel join the dock workers.

The main sticking point in negotiations is work schedules, the union says.