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New Zealand Overview

Effective 01 May 2024, Port of Auckland are imposing a dangerous goods surcharge billed on a per container received basis for export and import movement. 

A lead time of several days for bookings to be made available at Auckland’s largest container depot is having a negative impact on export and import FCL turn times. 

The end of the BMSB season is the 30th of April. The new season will start again with shipments leaving on the 1st of September. MPI remind all that even though the season is coming to an end, to continue to be vigilant especially with the extended transit times at present from Europe. 

The EU/NZ Free Trade Agreement comes into effect on the 1st of May. If anyone has questions, please contact the Henning Harders Customs Team. 


Airfreight Update 

Asia

The strong air freight demand at the tail end of last month led to a sharp spike in rates and capacity became acutely constrained. Many shippers were unprepared, resulting in a significant amount of delayed cargo that split over to May. Expect that excess freight to clear by the middle of the month May.

At the same time other factors, including new consumer product launches, replenishment of inventory by shippers in general, continued restrictions in the Red Sea/ Panama Canal, along with the continued trend of ecommerce shippers chartering more flights from airlines, are expected to put pressure on rates and capacity throughout May. 

LATAM

Capacity remains widely available. Pricing remains stable due to modest demand in the U.S.-LATAM trade lane. Airlines are reassessing routes to minimise transit times and maximise efficiency, along with making last minute operational changes, combining flights that lack freight. 

Seed season is set to end mid-May in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, signalling the beginning of high season for flower exportation (due to Mother’s Day) from Colombia and Ecuador. 

Inbound lanes to Mexico from Asia are affected by a comparable situation in the Trans-Pacific market, with higher-than-expected rates and reduced capacity. Aggressive spot pricing for Mexico exports is available in the market. 

Due to the high demands of fruits, frozen fish and fertile eggs, the Brazil-North America lane is experiencing a 10-day delay—even for daily services. Europe, Asia, and Oceania destinations are flat and stable. 

North America 

The U.S. export market remains stable with no indication of disruption in the near term. As the second quarter begins, expect additional passenger aircraft to enter the market, most notably on Trans- Atlantic routes. 

Cargo inbounds to the United States has experienced greater challenges. India and the Middle East have seen dramatic increases in rates as the Red Sea disruption pushes ocean freight into the air. Significant backlogs exist across India, so pre-planning is crucial to mitigate extended transit times. 

Out of the Asia Pacific region, there is steady, high demand from the ecommerce sector, creating a new baseline for consistent air freight demand. Some ecommerce platforms are chartering their own aircraft, resulting in airlines pulling flights from their existing schedules to support these charters. This effectively reduces capacity for the open market. When these factors combine with a surge in demand, as was the case at the end of the first quarter, capacity becomes limited and spot rates jump. 

Oceania

Capacity to Oceania is stable. However, there is increased ecommerce demand from Asia to Oceania and to other global markets in general. 

Imports

  • Rising tensions in the Middle East along with the floods in Dubai have had large impact on airfreight between Europe and Australia / New Zealand. 
  • Currently most airlines are taking alternate routes to avoid overflying Iran. This means more fuel onboard and less cargo. 
  • Emirates currently have 1500 airline cans of baggage that they need to move from Dubai across their entire network. These cans are taking priority over any and all cargo movements. 
  • Singapore airlines suspended all cargo bookings to / from Europe on passenger aircraft for seven days. They will work through the backlogs before taking on extra bookings. 
  • Asian and Middle Eastern carriers have advised it is likely to take a week to 10 days to resume normal service with the Asian carriers taking limited cargo on passenger flights due to the longer transit. 
  • American carriers are taking what they can, and this has had a knock-on issue transiting the US which is already at capacity. There is currently a backlog of between 10 days and two weeks for new bookings to the USA. 
  • This is an ever-evolving situation. The airlines are sending constant updates but will only resume to normal operations once there is a de-escalation across the Middle East region. 

Exports

  • There is now capacity for exports from New Zealand across Asia as the carriers have that extra capacity without the European bookings. 
  • Similar to imports, rising tensions in the Middle East along with the floods in Dubai have had large impact on export airfreight between Europe and Australia / New Zealand. 
  • Currently most airlines are taking alternate routes to avoid overflying Iran. This means more fuel onboard and less cargo. 
  • Emirates currently have 1500 airline cans of baggage that they need to move from Dubai across their entire network. These cans are taking priority over any and all cargo movements. 
  • Singapore airlines suspended all cargo bookings to/from Europe on passenger aircraft for seven days. They will work through the backlogs before taking on extra bookings. 
  • Asian and Middle Eastern carriers have advised it is likely to take a week to 10 days to resume normal service with the Asian carriers taking limited cargo on passenger flights due to the longer transit. 
  • American carriers are taking what they can, and this has had a knock-on issue transiting the US which is already at capacity. There is currently a backlog of between 10 days and two weeks for new bookings to the USA. 
  • This is an ever-evolving situation. The airlines are sending constant updates but will only resume to normal operations once there is a de-escalation across the Middle Eastern region. 

South Asia, Middle East, and Africa

Airlines are maintaining flight frequency and schedules. There is very little increase in capacity. The demand for air freight is extremely high, surpassing available market capacity, accordingly, most carriers are offering spot rates. Additionally, for large lots of cargo, express rates are available, but the express rates may not guarantee an express departure or onward connection from the airline hub. 

On the export side, capacity is stable to most destinations, except for backlogs for exports to the Americas and Europe. Expect Intra-Middle East volumes to increase, especially with multiple projects initiated by Saudi Arabia. In general, rates are stable. Outbound rates to Europe, the United States and Asia are increasing consistently. There is plenty of capacity for exporting to Oceania and Middle East and Africa. Capacity is extremely high for exporting to the Americas and Europe. 

For imports, capacity is moderate from the Americas and Europe. Expect an increase in volume, especially out of Asia via Dubai in the fourth quarter. 


Ocean Freight Update 

Ocean Carrier Alliances 

Set to expire in 2027, the Ocean Alliance (OOCL, CMA, COSCO, Evergreen) announced they will extend the agreement for an additional five years, through 2032. Some speculate this was an effort to reassure the market of the alliance’s stability after the upheaval in the other two major east-west alliances scheduled for early next year. 

Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd announced the formation of the new Gemini Alliance, which will start in January 2025. Hapag-Lloyd will leave THE Alliance by the end of January 2025. 

THE alliance members (Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, HMM, Yang Ming) reassure the market that business will continue as usual for 2024. But there will still be significant changes and disruption to vessel services in early 2025. 

Asia

Despite ongoing disruptions in the Red Sea, which continue to absorb excess ship capacity, spot rates continue to soften on most trade lanes. May traditionally hasn’t got high market demand. This will test carriers’ ability to hold rates ahead of the third quarter summer high season. 

The closure of the port of Baltimore after the containership DALI struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge on 26 March 2024, is not expected to have a significant impact on the container supply chain. In the U.S. East Coast (USEC), rates to the alternative east coast gateway ports have not spiked following the incident.

Asia-Europe rates rebounded for the first time since January with carriers pushing an 1 April 2024 price increase. Mediterranean rates enjoyed a stronger rebound with space remaining tight. However, with capacity expected to increase sharply in May on both the North Europe and Mediterranean routes, freight rates may remain under pressure with significant volatility. 

LATAM

Traffic is at 80-90% capacity to the main destinations United States, Asia, and Europe. 

In Brazil, due to the 1 April 2024, general rate increase (GRI) to the Americas and demand remaining high, space is booking 3-4 weeks in advance. Some ports such as Vitoria, Navegantes and Port Santos are reporting a shortage of 20’ containers and special equipment. The Port of Rio Grande is facing some omissions, likely due to the ships’ slight delays caused by port congestion. 

A potential national labour strike in Chile could produce significant disruptions and congestion in port areas. Workers are demanding a national law for ports to make improvements in safety and health, among other requirements. Authorities are still in negotiations with port entities without a solution to the conflict. Expect updates to continue as they become available. 

Due to the expansion of the port of Callao Peru, it is expected to handle an increase of 2.7 million TEUs in 2024 compared to 1.67 million TEUs in 2023. This is due in part to the $400 million (USD) investment that includes more than 20 electric internal transport trucks and two gantry cranes that will enable the docking of larger ships. 

Rainy season due to the La Niña phenomenon is expected to bring to the Panama Canal a recovery of ship frequencies and passages. 

North America

Rail labour union negotiations 

Canadian National and Canadian Pacific rail are both negotiating new contracts with their respective labour unions. The federal government in Canada has appointed mediators to assist in the negotiations for roughly a 90-day period. No strike action can occur while the mediators are working on an agreement. Therefore, the earliest to expect any disruption in rail service would be in late May 2024. 

ILA labour union negotiations

The contract with the ILA labour union on the USEC and U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) ports is due to expire on 30 September 2024. Even though there have been no labour disruptions on the USEC since 1977, press releases indicate negotiations between the two parties are not going well and talks have broken off for now. The two sides appear to be far apart. 

The president of the ILA union has announced that union members should be prepared for a coast- wide strike in October 2024. The business community is calling on the U.S. government to get involved and convince the two sides to get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible. The ILA leadership have given their chapters until 17 May 2024, to reach agreement on local issues, which will leave them almost five months to complete negotiations of the master contract. 


Ocean Freight — Exports

United States-Asia

Carriers are starting to see more demand for services via the U.S. West Coast (USWC) due to the continued challenges associated with obtaining appointments through the Panama Canal and extended transit times through the Cape of Good Hope.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced volume increases of 18% and 20% respectively year-over-year for the first two months of 2024. 

Congestion at transhipment ports in Asia remains an issue at many major ports, including Busan and Singapore. Deliveries may be delayed as much as 10-14 days. 

A wave of new vessel capacity entered the market at the end of 2023 and into 2024, which is anticipated to increase capacity by as much as 10%. The vessels are mainly expected to be added to the Asia lanes, which will further widen the gap between capacity and demand. However, since capacity has been largely absorbed by the vessel diversions through the Cape of Good Hope, the impact of this new infusion of capacity may be fully neutralised. 


Ocean Freight — Imports

Based on the present and projected level of Gatun Lake in March, the Panama Canal Authority announced increases in the number of daily slots in the Panamax Locks: 

Booking Slots per DayUsual Scenario30 July3 Nov1
Dec
1 Jan16 Jan1 Feb18
Mar
25
Mar
April Onwards
Panamax locks262217161517131920as per March until further notice
Neopanamax Locks10108657577as per March until further notice
Total363225222024182627as per March until further notice

Thanks to the increased slots since January, steamship lines are trying to resume their usual service routings via the Canal, though some exceptions remain per proforma or on ad hoc basis. The alternatives remain to route via the Cape of Good Hope (transit time increase of about 14 days) or the Suez Canal (transit time increase of about 14 days). 

As ships are delayed, transit time and capacity are both affected as more ships are needed to cover a longer route on a weekly basis. Therefore, space availability on services typically routed via the Panama Canal can remain a challenge—particularly for heavy freight. 

The situation around the Suez Canal continues to be fluid. Since December, most maritime carriers have announced they are temporarily pausing or rerouting vessel traffic through the Red Sea and Suez Canal following a sequence of attacks on container vessels launched from a part of Yemen. 

Most of the vessels will travel around the Cape of Good Hope, which adds, on average, 14 days to transit time. Rerouting or pausing even a portion of those vessels can have a significant impact, not just to trade that moves via the Red Sea, but across all global trade lanes. Blank sailings and service changes may continue. It is estimated that 6-9% of global capacity is absorbed by this alternative routeing. 

Oceania

The Trans-Tasman market will see some change following the removal of a service. Overall demand is currently soft, and it is still unknown what impact the reduction will make to overall trade on the lane. 

The Europe to Oceania market continues to be affected by disruption in the Red Sea / Suez Canal with most carriers implementing contingency surcharges. Ongoing ripple effects are present, causing port congestion and an increased demand for air freight. This also affects transit times as all carriers are now transiting via the Cape of Good Hope with an approximate additional 14 days transit time. 

Northeast and Southeast Asia supply continues to tighten as carriers increase blank sailings / port omissions and implement GRIs due to issues surrounding the Red Sea and the recent Australian-wide Protected Industrial Action at DP World. Although an agreement has been reached, expect a continued impact for several weeks until the backlogged is cleared. 

With the numerous global trade issues, there is concern around equipment availability, including the rightful return of empty equipment, globally. Export rates are also under pressure with strong load factors creating competition and rate increases. 

SAMA

A stronger grape season is expected compared to last year. Following its conclusion near the end of April, expect rate corrections for Europe trade lanes. The market will likely remain slow due to low cargo demand / weak global economy. Also, some countries are facing elections, including India. 

There are continued equipment shortages as vessels are delayed with increased dwell time and rerouting over the Cape of Good Hope. Carriers may prioritise premium freight-paying cargo. 

Rates to North America are dropping slightly after the cancelled GRI / PSS, which was announced for April. Rates (e.g., ISC-Europe, Gulf, Asia, Oceania, Africa, LATAM) are stable because of lower cargo demand. 

For the most part, sailing schedules are also stable, except for ISC to Oceania, where there are some challenges at transhipment ports. 

Prices are expected to remain flat or drop further if ONE / HMM adds more capacity (e.g., India to North America) in the second quarter of 2024. 

Transit time and vessel schedules will continue to experience delays until routing is available via Cape of Good Hope. The market is likely to pick up if cargo demand increases and all global economies perform well at a normal pace. 


Inland Drayage Update

Asia

With the slow recovery of the domestic economy, the supply of vehicles is sufficient and inland transportation demand keeps growing slightly, returning to the normal operation of the market. The freight index fell month over month (M/M) due to capacity oversupply, but it is estimated to return gradually to a more stable situation from April. 

LATAM

Throughout 2024, numerous factors have significantly increased freight transportation costs in Colombia, as revealed by the latest report on the Dane Freight Transportation Cost Index (Ictc). Inflation has affected all economic sectors, transportation included, presenting an annual variation of 2.32%. 

Two contradictory resolutions, one from the Ministry of the Environment and the other from the Ministry of Mines, could leave between 16,000 and 19,000 freight cars unable to operate in Colombia for a year. 

Cargo transportation rates are expected to go up in 2024 due to the increase in the price of inputs and maintenance. 

Due to the considerable increase in gasoline prices in Argentina, a rate increase has been generated

for cross-border services for the Argentina-Chile, Uruguay-Chile, and Brazil-Chile routes. Regarding domestic services, local rates are maintained due to the decrease in volume and have been maintained since mid-year 2023. 

A widespread labour strike in Chile affected several ports and the port of Coronel, located at the south of Chile, around 500 kilometres away from Santiago, remains closed at the time of this publication. This means there are no vessel operations or container movements in or out of the port until 21.00 each day. Accordingly, the facility is experiencing high congestion due to operational delays. The end of the strike is still unknown. Watch for updates as they become available. 

The Truck Drivers’ Law imposes strict regulations on carriers in Brazil, affecting working hours, rest periods and pay. These legislation changes mean carriers must adapt strategically to comply with the laws while maintaining competitiveness. 

Compliance requires adjustments in logistics, technology, and infrastructure, leading to increased operational costs. Carriers, contractors, and insurers must collaborate to ensure legal compliance, operational efficiency, and worker well-being. 

Changes in the Road Transport Insurance Law in Brazil (RCTR-C), have also had a significant impact: 

  • Expanded coverage requirements: The law broadens insurance coverage, providing more security for cargo transport. 
  • Higher operational costs: Carriers may face higher operational costs, potentially affecting transport prices. 
  • More competitiveness: Better insurance conditions can make carriers more competitive by offering comprehensive services. 
  • Risk management adjustments: Carriers are encouraged to adopt strict risk management practices to reduce claims and lower premiums. 
  • Greater regulations and supervision: Increased regulation may bring additional legal obligations for carriers. 
  • Shifting relationships with insurers: Negotiating insurance policies becomes more complex with broader coverage. 

North America

Due to the bridge collapse in Baltimore, expect to see a short-term base rate increase in the eastern region markets similar to the pandemic. Carriers feel they will be more organised operationally. Having solid carrier relationships and draymen to rely on is one solution, as many carriers will chase higher paying freight. 

Over the past several weeks, fuel costs have been trending down and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects fuel will remain steady throughout the second quarter but jump in the third quarter. 

Oceania

Australian port logistics and landside container transport services are operating at below optimum following industrial action. 

There are continued delays of de-hiring empty containers in Fremantle, Western Australia, which is also building in other states due to the imbalance of import over export. Expect this to continue throughout April. 

Melbourne, Victoria, is seeing increased lead times due major infrastructure road works as transport companies deal with delays in and around the port precinct. 

New Zealand port logistics and landside container transport services are delayed by approximately one day, on top of port delays in Australia (e.g., Sydney and Melbourne). 


Customs Update

Oceania

Australia is expected to experience delays throughout the second quarter, with timeframes for the assessment of import documentation of non-urgent commodities. 

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug season will conclude in Australia and New Zealand during the second quarter for cargo delivered after 30 April 2024. 

In New Zealand, customs and processing times are currently operating at levels within capacity with no reported delays. 


Customer Advisory (Repeat from April Update)

Dangerous Goods Surcharge 1st May 2024 

Following customer feedback, the implementation of the Dangerous Goods Container Surcharge on import containers (outlined in November) was placed on hold so we could undertake further consultation on the DG Surcharge. 

These discussions have concluded, with the two Trucking Industry Associations providing a view on how the Port of Auckland could recover specific costs associated with administering dangerous goods. After consulting with the industry, the port has decided that a ‘Dangerous Goods Container Surcharge’ will be applied. 

Port of Auckland will continue to meet all its legal requirements pertaining to dangerous goods handling and administration across rail, road and sea, Effective 1 May 2024. 

We will update you as soon as we have more information regarding this. 


For more specific information / requirements please ask your Henning Harders NZ Key Account Manager. We will continue to evaluate all market options and work with you to provide individual solutions for your business. 

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