Monthly Archives: June 2013

Lightweight and Collapsible- The Ferrari of Shipping Containers

Of the 17 million shipping containers that are used to transport goods around the world about 20% are empty. These big, empty boxes are not always where they will be reloaded for their next shipping assignment, so they are often being transported while they are empty. Another issue is that while they are empty and awaiting their next load of cargo, they take up huge amounts of storage space. These issues are being addressed by a new generation of container design that is emerging. The standard shipping container is a large rigid box, usually made of steel, which makes them very bulky, awkward to handle, and heavy. The new class of shipping containers is made from lightweight, durable, modern materials, and they are engineered so they can be collapsed when they are not full of cargo. The traditional container is rather like your old Ford sedan- reliable, sturdy, and inefficiently slow. The new design is the Ferrari of the containerized shipping world, because when they are empty they can be collapsed and stacked onto trucks or train cars and moved in bulk to their next job. This means that the containers that you need will arrive sooner, and so they… read more »

Returning Freight to the Railways is the Key to Cutting Emissions

Trucks are carrying the majority of the cargo on American roads at the moment, with estimates that it accounts for 60% of all of the freight that travels across the country. With the current focus on reducing carbon emissions around the world, one of the key areas being examined is the way that we move this cargo around the country, to find ways to reduce the impact that it has on the environment. In recent years, the improvements to the intermodal freight networks in the US and across the globe have continued to put pressure on trucking companies to reduce their emissions. There have been many strategies implemented to try and do this, including the introduction of cleaner truck engines, altering driving styles to reduce idling time and speed, to cut down on the fuel expended. Even with these advances in the efficiency of truck freight, it will still take a fundamental rethinking of how freight is managed across the intermodal networks to make really significant reductions in the carbon emissions that are connected with logistics. One solution that is gaining a lot of momentum right now is to use the nation’s railway networks for more intermodal cargo, and there… read more »

CakeBoxx Optimizes the Shipping Container

Since they were first introduced in the 1950s, intermodal shipping containers have contributed to a huge increase in the handling of cargo around the world. In the past 60 years, millions of these ubiquitous big metal boxes have been manufactured, and entire ports have been configured around handling them quickly and efficiently in order to keep the supply of goods flowing around the globe. While a great deal has been done to streamline the handling process, very little has changed about the basic design and construction of shipping containers in the past half century. The latest innovation in this competitive industry has come from CakeBoxx, who manufactures a line of shipping containers that offer greater flexibility and reduced loading and unloading times with their innovative design. This new style of container is door-less and access is provided by lifting the lid off of the base of the container, to make the contents immediately accessible for unloading. They have been designed to fit seamlessly into the world’s intermodal networks, and come in all of the standard sizes and configurations that are uniform across the industry. They also have other advantages over containers with door access. Because the lid needs to be… read more »

Duty Free Status for Home Textiles from West Africa Set to Boost Local Economies

With Barack Obama’s recent visit to Africa the focus of the world’s media was on the President’s initiatives to encourage the economic growth of the region. The visit was largely in support of the ongoing programs of support for many African countries initiated by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This legislation, passed in 2000, is designed to assist the economies of Sub-Saharan African nations and to improve US foreign relations in the region. The AGOA bill also apportions responsibility for deciding on eligibility every year to the President. In simple terms, AGOA provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry of some goods into the US, mostly textiles and apparel. Changes in local political climates have seen eligibility fluctuate for several countries with both Guinea and Niger being removed from the list in 2009 only to be reinstated again in 2011. These simple initiatives have proven to be remarkably successful and have stimulated the growth of the textile industry in Southern Africa. This has brought them into direct competition with China, which has since become the largest investor in Africa (the US is currently the second largest). For clothing importers this presents an opportunity to take advantage of… read more »

In Spite of Multilateral Trade Agreements G-20 Members Continue to Implement Restrictive Policies

In spite of the G-20’s stated objective of increasing international cooperation through stopping the practice of trade and investment protectionism the trend towards restrictive measures is continuing. Restrictions aimed at antidumping protections account for over half of these and their increasing number means that they are interrupting the supply chain of many different industries within the US. While it is true that there have been many restrictions which have been dropped as well as many trade liberalization plans put in place, there remains a steady increase in the number of restrictive trade practices overall. While generally, the impact is still low, at around 3.5% of total world trade, the indication that so many of the G-20 members are willing to break agreements and continue to place trade restrictions on imports to protect their domestic markets has many questioning the reliability of the plan. The WTO points out that the low level of impact on the world economy is an indication that most member nations are generally complying with the G-20 agreement. At the same time this doesn’t address the issue of the mounting number of restrictive actions that will have to be resolved at future summits. This situation is seen… read more »

Free Trade Agreements and Tariff Engineering Offer Substantial Cost Cuts for Clothing Importers

In a constantly evolving global economy it can be profitable to keep up with changes in the foreign trade arrangements in order to be able to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. This is especially the case in businesses like the clothing industry which rely so heavily on import and export for their revenue. In a constantly changing global trade environment, opportunities that weren’t there in the past may be economically viable today. With new free trade agreements coming online in the coming months, the establishment of Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) and the use of clever tariff engineering strategies, there is potential to boost your profit margin on already existing product lines and to create new, low duty ones. In the apparel industry the opportunities provided by US free trade agreements (FTAs) with many of the world’s nations are significant. The US has implemented 14 FTAs already, largely in Central and South America, with plans for expanding into Asia and Europe in the immediate future. There are also a range of bilateral agreements between the US and nations in the Middle East, Asia and Australasia which offer substantial savings on import or export duties. The cost of establishing… read more »

FDA to Examine Regulations for Drug Imports as Alerts Impact on Foreign Exporters

Every month the FDA issues dozens of import alerts to flag imported products that are either unfit for the US domestic market or are illegal. The flow of unapproved drugs into the country is potentially a huge problem and, in order to ensure the integrity of the drug supply chain in America the FDA is planning to perform a major overhaul of the current import protocols. Legislation passed in 2012 gave the FDA greater powers to collect and analyze data about drug imports in an effort to make risk evaluation-based decisions about the supply of drugs from foreign facilities. There are also resources allocated to allow closer partnership with foreign authorities in order to share information and to establish recognition of foreign inspection procedures. It is hoped that, in the rapidly changing global economic environment, these measures can keep up with the demands for continually updated regulations to manage the foreign supply of medicinal drugs and to set standards of safety and quality throughout the US drug supply chain. The import alerts already routinely issued by the FDA have wide-ranging economic impacts in many countries. These places often have hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue tied up in drugs… read more »

US Customs to Begin Enforcing 10+2 Carrier Reporting Requirements

The shipping of containers into the United States is about to move to the next level of security with US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) implementing the next phase of their Import Security Filing (ISF) protocol, commonly known as 10+2. This requires importers as well as carriers to file additional data on their cargo 24 hours before loading it onto a vessel that is bound for the United States. This is a significant part of the CPB’s enforcement strategy that is aimed at reducing the threat of terrorism while simultaneously encouraging legitimate trade. Non-compliance or misfiled information will begin to attract a hefty fine during July 2013. This can be as much as $5,000 per violation but may also cause the CPB to withhold the release of the goods from customs or even stop them from being unloaded at US port facilities. It has been widely noted that some shippers have become lax about their security commitments for goods that are being shipped to the US and these moves may prove to be a rude awakening for some in the industry. At the same time it is pointed out that these measures are finally rewarding those shippers that have spent… read more »