Top 10 International Shipping News Stories of 2018
This is it! Universal Cargo’s final blog of 2018!
It’s become a tradition over the last couple years to make the last blog of the year a look back on the year’s top 10 international shipping news stories. Phew, there were a lot of years in that sentence.
Speaking of lots, 2018 had many big international shipping news stories, as did the years that preceded it.
If you want to take a longer look back, here are the blogs that covered the top shipping stories of the last few years:
But let’s keep our focus, for just one last time, on 2018. Here they are, counted down David Lettermen style, the top 10 international shipping news stories of 2018.
Drum roll please…
#10 — PierPass 2.0 Goes Into Effect
The much anticipated changes to the PierPass program at the country’s biggest ports in terms of capacity per TEU moved went into effect in 2018.
As this change at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach impacts a big percentage of U.S. shippers, the story squeaks into the top 10 list. Not only did we blog on this story, but we made a Universal Shipping News video on it.
Here are the blog links to the story.
#9 — Maersk Megaship Fire
Shippers’ fears about megaships were realized with the tragic fire of a Maersk ship. Because of the massive amount of cargo megaships carry, there is a great deal of risk with a single ship sailing. This fire resurfaced megaship use concerns around those risks and even worse, cost the lives of crew members.
This story also appeared in both a video and blogs.
#8 — Hurricane Florence & Super Typhoon Mangkhat Strike
Severe weather seems to be on the increase. And such weather often affects international shipping. This year, a Hurricane and Typhoon struck almost simultaneously, one in the U.S. and the other in China, though neither exclusively in those places.
Here are the blogs:
#7 — Blockchain Race
Blockchain is the next big thing in international shipping and a big international shipping buzz word of 2018. Companies are racing to have the dominant blockchain platform for the industry. At the beginning of the year, Maersk and IBM made headlines as they teamed up to release a big platform. But the other carriers in the industry have been slow to accept a platform from possibly their fiercest competitor.
Here’s a video on the collaboration, blogs around the blockchain competition in shipping, and even a guest post that covers blockchain’s potential to transform logistics.
#6 — President Xi Jinping Removes Time Limit on His Rule of China
Ramifications of this news story go well beyond international shipping, but there is also an important impact when it comes to trade between the U.S. and China. Perhaps the biggest impact is stability. President Xi Jinping made a big power grab in China this year, getting rid of the two term limit on presidents there. This potentially means President Xi will rule the communist country for life.
This story left many shippers with mixed feelings:
#5 — ONE Starts Business
It had been coming since before the year began, but it was not until 2018 that Japan’s “Big 3” shipping companies—K Line, MOL, and NYK— officially began operating as the joint venture Ocean Network Express (ONE). This is a big one for international shipping, excuse the pun. Who am I kidding? I never apologize for a pun.
#4 — Ocean Carriers’ Future in Doubt
Ocean carriers struggling is not a new news item by any means. They’ve been struggling for years, creating the shrinking of competition in the industry through mergers, buyouts, bankruptcy, and alliances. Last year, Maersk made headlines by saying the industry would shrink to just three major carriers. This year, the headlines came when the president of MOL said about the world’s carriers, “We’re all going to go bust.”
Needless to say, which is why I’m typing it instead, the business practices of carriers have been under scrutiny in 2018. Stories around their troubles and business practices, which can be questionable to say the least, have been important stories for shippers. After all, carrier viability is very important when it comes to international shipping. Here are some blogs on it:
#3 — ILA-USMX Contract Agreement
This was big news. 2018 saw the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) come to terms with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) on a new dockworkers contract for East and Gulf Coast ports before the previous contract expired. This is not how the dockworker unions traditionally operate, and shippers often pay the price with cargo delays and uncertainty at the ports.
There was something of foreshadowing in #9 on this list when ILA contract negotiations appeared in the video that also talked about the Maersk containership fire. But here’s the video that covered the new contract agreement being reached and blogs surrounding the story.
#2 — Trump’s Steel & Aluminum Tariffs Triggering Trade Tension
How about that title for alliteration? Coming in at number two are President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. These tariffs, especially the ones on steel, created trade tension between the U.S. and countries around the globe, with not just one set of retaliatory tariffs getting implemented against the U.S.
Here are blogs on the drama surrounding the steel and aluminum tariffs:
#1 — U.S.-China Trade War
Of course, the number one news story of 2018 has to be the trade war between the U.S. and China. It absolutely dominated international shipping news cycles and Universal Cargo blog space in 2018.
Starting with whether or not we were in a trade war with China, followed by the trade war being on and off again, then escalation, the trade war with China has had a massive impact on U.S. shippers and will continue to have an impact in 2019.
Tariffs increased, demand increased as shippers raced to beat tariff deadlines, and freight rates increased while the peak season was artificially inflated. Those struggling ocean carriers of #4 benefited in the short term, stock markets around the world often reacted negatively when a new piece of news hit regarding the trade war.
We’ve got videos and blogs aplenty for you on this subject:
Happy New Year!
That’s it for our look back on 2018’s international shipping news stories. May 2019 hold much success for you and your business!