Ninety-four percent of transpacific shippers surveyed by American Shipper
last week said they are concerned about a potential strike at U.S. East and Gulf coast ports at the end of 2012.
bi-monthly Transpacific Pulse survey found that nearly 68 percent of shipper respondents were very concerned about a strike, and 26 percent were moderately concerned. Only 6 percent were not concerned at all.
The survey measured opinion from 65 shippers and eight ocean carriers on the trade from Dec. 11-15. Of the eight carriers polled, four were moderately concerned about a strike, three were very concerned and one was not concerned at all.
Talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and their employers were held on Tuesday this week on a new contract for unionized dockworkers at ports from Maine to Texas, but broke off by that afternoon. The union has authorized a strike action if a new contract is not agreed by the deadline on Dec. 29.
Meanwhile, most respondents to the American Shipper
survey also said they were impacted to varying degrees by a partial closure of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in late November and early December.
Roughly 89 percent of shipper respondents said they were impacted by a strike at 10 of the 14 terminals in Southern California stemming from a dispute between union clerks and their employers. The dispute was resolved earlier this month,
Of the 89 percent affected by the strike, 30 percent were slightly affected, 28 percent were moderately affected, 20 percent were significantly affected, and 11 percent were extremely affected. The remaining 11 percent were not affected at all.
Shippers were also asked about rate and capacity on the eastbound transpacific trade. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said current capacity on the trade is even, while 32 percent called it soft and 5 percent characterized it as very soft. More than 23 percent called capacity tight and 3 percent called it very tight.
More than 92 percent of shippers said U.S. ports were either moderately congested or not congested at all during peak season this year, with the remaining respondents saying ports were very congested.
As for rate levels, 25 percent said their rates had remained the same over the last month, while another 24 percent said their rates had risen modestly. Eleven percent said their rates decreased moderately, 8 percent said their rates increased significantly and 6 percent said they decreased significantly. Twenty percent said they weren’t affected because their rates are locked in for the year.
Shipper respondents were split virtually even among manufacturers, retailers, and 3PLs.
Carriers, meanwhile, expect capacity to slowly tighten in the coming months. Four of the eight respondents said capacity will slowly tighten in the next two months, while two said it will remain the same and one said capacity will be added. Half of the respondents also said they plan to remove capacity over the winter.
There’s less consensus on rates among the carriers, however. Three respondents said rates decreased moderately in the last month, while two carriers each said rates stayed the same or moderately increased. - Eric Johnson