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Radiant's Freight Market Update

Feb 15, 2024

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This week: Panama Canal water level projections threaten transits, shippers ask Federal Maritime Commission to address Red Sea crisis, & Mexico surpasses Canada & China as largest U.S. trading partner in 2023.


Panama Canal water level projections threaten transits. Trade via the Panama Canal faces ongoing challenges during Panama's dry season. Following a wetter-than-expected November, the canal's situation improved, allowing for increased daily transits in January. Fiscal year 2023 saw 12,638 vessels crossing, with an average of 34 daily transits. In the first four months of fiscal year 2024, 3,233 transits occurred, mainly Panamax vessels, indicating a 23% decrease from the previous year. Water levels within the canal primarily contribute to these challenges, affecting container, tanker, and dry bulk traffic. Water levels are projected to fall over the next few months, threatening future transits. Read more from Freight Waves here.

Shippers ask Federal Maritime Commission to address Red Sea crisis. Stakeholders in ocean shipping urged the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to intervene in the Red Sea crisis to mitigate disruptions caused by ongoing attacks on shipping vessels. The FMC is being urged to enhance transparency regarding surcharges, which have reached over $3,000 per container. Asia to U.S. West Coast prices have surged to $4,367 per forty-foot equivalent, while those to the U.S. East Coast rose to $6,373, according to Supply Chain Dive.


Californian port workers' take legal action against terminal operator bosses. Californian port workers have initiated two class action lawsuits against the Pacific Maritime Association and 27 companies, including Maersk, APM Terminals, and Cosco Shipping Terminals. One lawsuit, representing 8,000 to 10,000 port staff, aims to recover sick pay, pandemic wage payments, and statutory penalties, alleging multiple violations of the Labor Code.


Texas tops list for truck traffic bottlenecks. Texas is leading in truck traffic congestion, as per the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). ATRI's 2024 Top Truck Bottleneck List identified 13 Texas locations among the top 100 congested roadways nationwide, with nine in Houston. Additionally, Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth feature on the top 100 list. However, Fort Lee, New Jersey's intersection of Interstate 95 and State Route 4 remains the country's top freight bottleneck for the sixth consecutive year.


Former Mexican rail workers block border crossings in protest. Former Mexican rail employees staged protests and blockades at U.S.-Mexico border crossings in Arizona and Texas on Wednesday (2/14). They asked for benefits, severance pay, and better communication from the government. U.S. Customs and Border Protection alerted the trade community about disruptions to truck traffic caused by the retired railroad workers at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Texas. The protests affected several crossings, including the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge in El Paso and the Mariposa port of entry in Nogales, Arizona.


FAA mandates rudder inspections for Boeing 737 MAX. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a directive mandating inspection of Boeing 737 MAX 8, MAX 8-200, and MAX 9 aircraft for loose bolts in the rudder system. A missing or loose bolt could lead to loss of rudder control during flight, impacting flight safety, according to Simple Flying. The directive affects 482 aircraft in the US and comes amid increased FAA oversight of Boeing following recent incidents, including the Alaska Airlines mid-air door plug blowout.


Mexico surpasses Canada & China as largest U.S. trading partner in 2023. Mexico emerged as the top U.S. trading partner for the second time in recent history in 2023, with trade reaching $798 billion, driven by fuel exports and vehicle imports. Canada ranked second with $773.94 billion in two-way trade, while China ranked third with $575.03 billion. Laredo, Texas, became the top international trade gateway in the U.S. for the first time, handling $320 billion, mostly with Mexico. Nearshoring and strained U.S.-China trade relations contributed to Mexico's growing trade prominence.

EU passes Net-Zero Industry Act. The European Commission approved the Net-Zero Industry Act to bolster domestic clean energy technology manufacturing, supporting the EU's climate goals. The act aims for the EU to supply at least 40% of its demand for net-zero technologies by 2030, and seeks to attract clean energy investments by simplifying permitting for projects producing solar panels, wind power, batteries, and more. This legislation aligns with the bloc's Green Deal Industrial Plan and follows U.S. efforts to onshore critical technologies for climate transition.


Radiant Logistics Network expands with new SBA San Antonio location. Radiant Logistics has expanded its network with a new SBA Global Logistic Services location in San Antonio, Texas. The new location will offer an extensive array of domestic, international, and U.S.-Mexico cross-border freight forwarding and logistics services. Read more about the new location here.

UPS launches Saturday delivery in Canada. UPS introduced a new Saturday home delivery service in major Canadian markets, starting in Toronto and expanding to Greater Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Laval by March. Customers who normally receive residential deliveries on Monday will now get them on Saturday. The new offering is provided at no extra cost to recipients and is part of UPS’ Standard service, which is used for day-definite delivery in one to five days, according to Supply Chain Dive.


The Radiant Network's supply chain and logistics updates provide valuable insights on freight trends, customs regulations, global news, economics, tech, and more. The Radiant Network includes the brands Radiant World Trade Services, Radiant Global Logistics, Radiant Canada, Radiant Road & Rail, Adcom, Airgroup, SBA, and Distribution By Air.


Radiant World Trade Services is a part of Radiant Logistics, Inc. (NYSE American: RLGT), a publicly traded third-party logistics company that provides technology-enabled global transportation and value-added logistics solutions to a diverse account base. They offer comprehensive services including freight forwarding, truck and rail brokerage, warehouse and distribution, customs brokerage, order fulfillment, inventory management, and technology services. Radiant has an extensive network of offices throughout North America and other key markets worldwide.