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Supply Chain Snapshots - News of the Week (October 9, 2023)

Monday, October 9, 2023

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ILWU Dockworkers Union’s Sway at West Coast Ports Is Tested in Bankruptcy

(Read more on The Wall Street Journal)

In advance of a judgment against it for what a federal jury found to be illegal work stoppages at the Port of Portland in 2019, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has declared bankruptcy. The ILWU represents more than 22,000 workers at 29 ports along the U.S. West Coast, and as such wields a significant amount of leverage when it comes to port operations and controlling the flow of goods entering and leaving the U.S.

IATA: First Air Cargo Demand Growth in 19 Months

(Read more on Air Cargo News)

As part of its August air freight analysis, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released numbers showing that global cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) were up 1.5% year-on-year. At the same time, they showed CTKs being 1.3% below their pre-pandemic level in 2019. According to an IATA representative, “Air cargo demand grew by 1.5% over the previous August. This is the first year-on-year growth in 19 months, so it is certainly welcome news. But it is off a low 2022 base and market signals are mixed.”

Revealed: Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak Seek UK/US Trade Pact Before 2024 Elections

(Read more on Politico)

Negotiations are set to start this month in a process both sides hope to have completed before both Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden are up for reelection in 2024. The targeted agreement “will seek to negotiate a new, foundational trade agreement to create a permanent mechanism to coordinate and cooperate on trade policy issues of mutual interest and to further deepen existing trade ties” between the U.S. and the UK.

Freight Turnaround Might Take Until 2025: Analysts

(Read more on Supply Chain Dive)

According to panelists at the Journal of Commerce Inland Distribution Conference in Chicago last month, optimism around a rebound in the freight market may be misplaced at the moment. Even so, they were quick to add that they don’t foresee a recession hitting any time this year. One speaker said his view is that peak season ‘23 will, in fact, be “normal” with recent data showing intermodal volume at about 6.4% above an average non-holiday week, which president and founder of Gross Transportation and Consulting Larry Gross noted, “is what a normal peak season looks like.”

Mississippi River Near Historic Lows, Grain Exports at Risk

(Read more on Reuters)

Just as U.S. soybean and corn harvests are ready to head for export, the main inland waterway they need to transit, the Mississippi River, is at historic low levels. Since September 1, there have been 22 closures of stretches of the river for dredging or the removal of grounded barges. Rising freight costs is a contributing factor to U.S. grain becoming less competitive in the global market.

Carriers Batten Down the Hatches Ahead of Potential Worst Slack Season on Record

(Read more on gCaptain)

A round of FAK raises from multiple carriers this week, along with dropping spot indices and an increase in the number of blank sailings being scheduled, is leading to expectations for a weak slack season. Compounding the situation is the influx of new-built ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) hitting the market, many of which are now expected to go from maiden voyage directly to idling at anchor.

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