Far East Asia Ocean Freight Rate Alert

The market from Far East Asia has been extremely volatile of late, rates have been at extremely low levels for most of 2015/2016, despite small increases and reductions over this period, including increases from 1st September, 2016. The driving factor on rates throughout this period has been availability of space of the trade, offering far too many vessels and excess capacity.

In recent months, one international line has been forced to refinance their business in order to survive and in the last 2 weeks, Hanjin Line, the Korean based global carrier (7th largest in the world) has announced bankruptcy. The line is now in the hands of Administrators and many vessels are tied up off international ports or in some cases, under arrest for non-payment of port and associated charges.

GPSM were alerted to their financial situation some 6 weeks ago, there were rumours in the trade that Hanjin were having financial difficulties, so we ceased any support of them immediately, and we are happy to say that we have had no containers tied up on any Hanjin vessel. Many of the LCL consolidators continued their support of Hanjin and have numerous containers detained at present. Most of the slot-charterers on the Hanjin vessels have also managed to obtain release of most of their containers by guaranteeing payment to the various port operators.

The results of the bankruptcy will be an issue for many importers/exporters while the Administrators try and resolve the payments due to various global ports, many traders will have stock delayed for quite some time. The more important situation moving forward is that the Australian trade will lose a large space capacity, it is reported that Hanjin were operating 13 vessels on our trade with capacity of approximately 65,000 container slots.

It will take quite some time to replace this capacity, one carrier has been reported as being interested in taking over the Hanjin vessels but that could take months before the vessels are available and placed into service.

We have been advised to brace for increased freight rates, the demand will be extremely high through the traditional “peak” season of October through December. Already we are seeing notices from lines that rates will increase by USD 500.00/20ft and USD 1,000.00/40ft. Fortunately GPSM have some very close associations with some of the carriers and while we can see rates are expected to increase, we believe that we will be able to negotiate far better rate levels for our clients on the major carriers.

We are not trying to alarm anyone, just reporting the facts as we know them today, so we would suggest that you be prepared for cost increases, something we have not had to consider in any great amount over the past couple of years.

GPSM will naturally keep you updated with latest developments as soon as possible.

Hanjin Line Receivership

As advised by our industry body, CBFCA, the following article has been written by Sohee Kim & Kyunghee Park for Bloomberg and is forwarded for your attention.

“As reported in Bloomberg today Hanjin Shipping Co. will apply for court receivership after lenders decided to halt all support to South Korea’s biggest container shipping line.

The Hanjin board decided unanimously on the move at a meeting in Seoul Wednesday and will file for receivership this afternoon, a spokesman said. The restructuring proposals submitted by Hanjin Shipping weren’t enough to address a cash shortage, main lender Korea Development Bank said Tuesday, dealing a blow to the revival efforts by a firm that’s been trying to reschedule debt under a voluntary creditor-led program since May.

Hanjin is among shipping lines grappling with a slump in global trade since the 2008 financial crisis and the slowest pace of economic growth in China in a quarter century. The industry worldwide has been forced to sell assets, cut jobs and idle some operations to bolster finances as the slowdown coupled with overcapacity eroded freight rates.”

In other places such as Canada, service providers in rail and road, for example CN Rail, has put a 24 hour “pause period” on all Hanjin containers and is waiting for further information from Hanjin. The CBFCA is aware that containers that are on the train are being moved but Hanjin containers not on trains are not being loaded to rail. In addition, in terminals, Hanjin containers are not being released during the “pause period”.

It is not improbable that such actions could occur within Australia, and the CBFCA recommends members review consignment issues in Hanjin carriage and inform clients of issues which have arisen in other places and could arise in Australia.

GPSM will continue to monitor the situation and advise any updates as received. We are currently checking all shipments that are on the water and booked to move to Australia to check that none of our routed containers are on Hanjin vessels, they may have been booked on anther shipping line but due to the consortiums operating from Far East and South East Asia, carriers do slot charter on other lines vessels as required.

New Packing Declaration Formats

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, there have been changes made to the Packing Declaration, in particular to Q.1. whereby Department of Agriculture & Water Resources (DAWR) has removed the “Prohibited Packaging Material Statement” and replaced it with the “Unacceptable Packaging Material Statement”.

DAWR will continue to accept the Prohibited Statement up till 16 June 2017, new forms are attached, and we recommend you inform your suppliers / packers of the change to ensure they comply with the new Biosecurity requirements.

Australian Customs Trusted Trader Program Goes Live

The Australian Border Force has implemented a Voluntary trade facilitation initiative, which is open to all Australian Business active in the International supply chain, that have an ABN, with a two year trading history and that are financially solvent.

This programme recognises businesses with a secure supply chain and have compliant trade practices, once a business is accredited, they are rewarded with a range of trade facilitation benefits. To become accredited, your business must firstly complete an expression of interest, followed by completion of a self-assessment questionnaire. Depending on the size of your business the Australian Border Force (ABF) suggest this could take between 20 hours and 200 hours , an ABF officer will also visit your business premises to conduct an Onsite validation, the purpose of which is to verify the information provided in the Self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) .

The SAQ asks for information relating to:

  • Structure, operations, and personnel.
  • Organisational governance.
  • Trade compliance.
  • Financial Standing.
  • Commercial record keeping.
  • Communications and Information Communication technology (ICT) environment.
  • International supply chain security.

The benefits of becoming an accredited trusted Trader are :

  • A dedicated Account manager, will assist with ATT process.
  • Priority Trade services , specifically to do with rulings, valuations, drawbacks, refund of duty.
  • Differentiated examinations, accredited ATT will be formally recognised as low risk by the ABF.
  • Mutual recognition arrangements, namely customs to customs agreements made between Australian government and trading partners.
  • Use of the Australian Trusted Trader logo.

Once your business has been validated, your business might be offered the opportunity to enter into an ATT agreement and become a trusted Trader. There will be ongoing obligations for your business will need to meet in order to access the benefits of the programme, and once accredited you will be assigned a dedicated Account manager , who will be your single point of contact between your business and the ABF.

At a recent seminar we attended a figure of $32000 was quoted as the costs incurred by business to complete the SAQ and on site validation process. We believe that the ATT is designed for large business with a corporate governance that may require them to have ISO accreditation , our view is that programme would not suit smaller to medium size business when you consider the cost recovery versus the benefits offered by the programme.

Current China Rate Situation

Dear Clients,

Our International Business Manager, Bob Bulmer, has just returned from a trip to Shanghai China during which time he met with quite a number of the major shipping lines.

This is his second trip in the recent weeks following up on negotiations held in early July with lines to try and finalise global contracts for our global forwarder network, IASA-International Air and Shipping Association. These negotiations are expected to lead to more advantageous rates for all GPSM clients, not only on China to Australia trade, but on all global trade lanes to Australia and the major global ports.

Because the concept we have presented is something totally new that none of the lines have ever been involved in before, the negotiations have been protracted and varied, each shipping line have their rules and regulations and varying requirements in order to finalise an agreement. There are some further requirements that we need to fulfil and we are working on those issues at present and we hope to have this new concept contract in place as soon as possible.

On a more general note, during the meetings in Shanghai, we were advised that more capacity is being introduced into the Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong to Australia trades from late September 2016 through new shipping line alliances, expected to start operating from 1st October, 2016. The new alliances have come about as lines China Shipping Line, Neptune Orient Line and American President Lines have all be taken over by larger lines, there will be new faster services from some ports and possible twice-weekly services from some major ports when all the alliances are finalised.

The general view in the market at present is that rates in the next 4-8 weeks may increase slightly as lines try and grab back some of their lost income over the past couple of years while rates have been at record all-time low levels. These slight gains may well be short-lived when more space becomes available, all the lines will be vying for whatever business they can gain in order to fill their allocations under the new alliances.

GPSM will as always, keep all clients appraised of any further news as soon as same comes to hand.

SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement


The new procedures for SOLAS, Safety For Life At Sea, will be introduced by Australian Ports from Wednesday 22nd June, 2016, as advised in our previous Newsletters.

To reiterate the new requirements for all export shipments are as follows:

All weight of export cargo moved by sea MUST now be declared by the exporter before cargo is lodged at an export LCL deport or at a terminal for FCL shipments.

There are two (2) methods of weighing cargo that are acceptable:

  1. Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment.
  2. Weighing of all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in a container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which the packing of the container was completed.  

The shipper of a container shall ensure the verified gross mass is stated in the shipping document, this document needs to be:

  1. Signed by a person duly authorised by the shipper
  2. Submitted to the shipping line prior to delivery of container to the export port.

Operationally, GPSM will require a declaration to be signed by every shipper for every export shipment, this must be kept on file in our office for inspection by authorities if required.
We shall forward the declaration form to you and same can be submitted to GPSM by e-mail or fax, or attached to our on-line SLI form when you submit your booking.

Please note that if a weight certificate is not presented to the shipping line prior to port delivery, the container will not be loaded on the vessel.

We understand that many exporters may not have calibrated and certified weighing equipment on site, and in these cases the loaded container will need to be taken to a certified weighing facility prior to delivery to the port. The container will need to be lifted from the truck, weighed and re-loaded for re-delivery to the port.

Naturally additional costs will be involved and we estimate that a cost of approximately $ 300.00 per container may eventuate.

This is similar to the import procedure when an AQIS tailgate inspection is required and costs will be dependent on the weighing facility location and waiting time spent at the facility.

In the case of LCL shipments, a weight declaration will be required by the exporter at time of booking, the actual container weighing requirements will be handled by the cargo consolidator. Each consolidator will charge a fee per shipment for completing the SOLAS weight requirements.

To date it is unknown what action the terminals will take when a container arrives for export and the weight does not match the terminal’s measurements, even if the discrepancy is a matter of KG’S. We have made numerous enquiries and no one seems to be able to answer this question.

We shall be forwarding a copy of the declaration form to you under separate cover, please ensure your staff involved in export shipments are fully aware of these new legal requirements.

Illegal Logging Prohibition Act & Regulation of 2012

The Illegal Logging Act & regulation of 2012 make it an offence to import a timber product or to process an Australian grown raw log that has been illegally logged. As of May 2016 businesses will need to ensure that they are compliant with the regulatory requirements, and that they have done their due diligence. A statement to this effect should be provided to your customs broker to avoid delays and penalties being incurred on your imports.

China Freight Rate Changes

The China freight market continues to be very volatile with past General Rate Increases (GRI’s) in the main, not being upheld in the market.

Every month we receive flyers from shipping lines advising that rates will increase, they have been coming since early January and despite a few minor special port increases
over the past 4 months, rates have remained quite stable.

The lines are all hurting financially with many losing from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars while these historically low rates are being offered. GPSM
are constantly negotiating with all lines and we hear their moaning and bleating every day.

The Free Trade Agreements now in place and level of the Australian Dollar over the past few months have certainly been a much needed boost for importers, however we all know
the ”good times” will come to an end at some stage.

We would warn of ”special rates”, even lower that current market rates, being offered in the market at present by predominately China based freight forwarders. These are known
as ”supermarket specials”, designed to get your interest, however we know from past experience they are generally only valid for very short periods.

There are a number of such flyers in the market again this week, what they do not tell you is that there are no space guarantees offered with the rates, and generally we hear
that containers booked under these rates are seldom loaded on the vessel you require.

”Rolling” of containers under these rate levels is common, particularly at a time when the shipping lines are cutting sailings from China as per below table.

China Freight Rate Changes

The delays involved can be anything up to  3 weeks at these times, so we suggest extreme  caution to avoid unnecessary delays. GPSM offer guaranteed space on booked sailings
and we are constantly working with the lines to ensure these goals are met.

We will keep you updated as further information comes to hand.