April 15th came and went and carriers held their ground and raised rates $400/FEU, per the announcement made by the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement last month. This sets the stage for another fast and furious two weeks of negotiation and discussion as the May 1st contract renewal date rapidly approaches. All signs at the moment are starting to point to things being in the carriers’ control; and I’m not really certain that’s a bad thing. Yes, the way they do this is deplorable. Yes, the way they manage their finances is the kind of thing that would fail people in most business school simulations. But given the complete and utter disconnect between supply and demand, market forces and pricing transportation as it relates to underlying costs, shippers need to be ready for this trend to continue.
We reached out late last week to potential clients with the advice that this year, it’s going to be about the service, smart carrier choices and finding other places through the supply chain including lead times and inventories, to reduce costs. Analysis of Customs activities such as classification and valuation are also places for found money that might not otherwise have been evaluated in the past. Free trade agreements are coming on line, KORUS last month and Colombia next month, which opens potential new markets. Companies will need to be smarter, and Camelot remains committed to staying informed and being a key partner in education and facilitation for those opportunities.