West coast ports – Los Angeles and Long Beach – have experienced historic bottlenecks for over a year. From long docking times to piles of cargo, a lack of employees, and empty containers not being retrieved, every aspect of port function has been affected.
For example, as of early January 2022, the LA and LB ports, which handle around 50% of all US imports from Asia, were reporting combined queues of ships in the hundreds.
Both ports announced a new long-dwelling container fee program to get a handle on the situation. Under the temporary policy, ocean carriers can be charged for import containers scheduled to move by truck dwelling nine days or more; or import containers scheduled to move by rail dwelling six days or more.
However, today, well into 2022, many shippers and carriers are still experiencing uncertainty over fees.
Three Reasons for Confusion Over Container Fees
1) Both ports have seen a combined 67% drop in aging cargo over the last few month despite long wait times. This, in turn, has led them to hold off, for the fourteenth week in a row, implementing the long-dwelling container fee program. It seems that the threat of a fee per container has encouraged retailers to collect boxes.
2) Some terminals have decided to implement independent long-dwelling fees, primarily due to a lack of unity. These variations in port regulations and terminal operators have contributed heavily to today’s uncertainty.
3) Another variation is between each of the ports. For example, in late December 2021, the LA port announced that they might start charging container lines for empty boxes. This is something the LB port has yet to decide if they will deploy. Therefore, many shippers and carriers are receiving mixed messages.
What the Future Looks Like
Regardless of complexity, everyone’s goal is to find unity at both ports and between terminals as we move forward. By achieving unity (or even just consistency), shippers will experience less confusion when it comes to knowing what to expect in terms of fees.
As meetings take place to discuss port operational matters, be sure to keep up to date by following ClearFreight on Linkedin and Twitter. Our team of experts stand ready to help your supply chain thrive in these turbulent times. Contact us today to learn how our supply chain solutions can help make logistics easier for you.