We started the year with the crux of how to deal with the ongoing pandemic that increased online ordering from all over the world. Then in March, the Ever Given decided it would be fun to take on things at a new angle, blocking up the Suez Canal for 6 days and 7 hours. This got the whole world talking about the logistics and worldwide supply chain at the dinner table. From the table to memes across the internet, the Ever Given was definitely a hot topic for most for a while.
Then the US/EU tit-for-tat Boeing / Airbus tariffs were put on hold for a few months while trade representatives could find a mutually beneficial solution to the problems. When the supply chain crunch came in big time (or so we thought before October hit), it blocked up Asia/ Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and Asia to the USEC, and drove up rates so high nobody would believe them until they were confirmed. Some rates soared almost as high as $15,000/teu.
That’s when we had the shortages kick in. From intermodal networks having a crisis, to supply chains not having enough equipment, we were only just beginning to see the troubles 2021 would bring. Between the issues of getting empty containers to load with exports, instead of shipped back to Asia empty in order to expedite the return of more imports, and the lack of drivers available to move those containers from a rail to shippers, the Midwest and West Coast were seeing severe delays and issues with intermodal cargo.
This was where people started to get creative and use passenger planes to carry cargo when flights were grounded due to COVID-19 restrictions. In a move that signaled to many there was an end coming to the pandemic disruption, United Airlines announced they would pull back on the “pfreighters” for cargo service as more travelers made belly space enough to keep up.
Then we were hit and hit hard. US rail delays began mounting, a port worker at Ningbo Meidong Container Terminal received a positive Covid test leading the port to shut down all operations under epidemic management, a COVID outbreak in China led to cargo flights being cancelled and rates to leap. The Delta variant hit and Vietnam shut down all cargo shipments for weeks. Cargo congestion moved from bad to worse to incognito as desperate forwarders tried to beg, bribe, and sneak into handlers to recover freight by almost any means necessary in Chicago. Tariffs took center stage again as tit-for-tat applications came back in full swing. Cargo in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California stopped moving and the port became more of a parking lot than an actual functioning port. It was an absolute madhouse of pandem(ic)onium.
Then things even got so bad with the LA and LB ports that port fees were initiated to bring incentive to the ports to move cargo faster so that the supply chain halt could be solved. With a sky-is-the-limit style cap, there was no end in sight to the crisis that was inadvertently avoided by the port moving as fast as they could to avoid the fees – fees that the White House held back from slapping the carriers with for several weeks as port congestion cleared.
Through it all, your cargo has been safe with Edward J. Zarach & Associates. Our strong expertise and deep understanding of the logistics industry helped us weather this tumultuous year with the trust and support of our clients. While we haven’t finished coordinating our outlook article for 2022, you can rest assured that our staff will remain vigilant and steadfast in protecting and serving your cargo needs next year and for decades to come.