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April 2020

News and Views for the clients of Universal Logistics

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Essential workers… we thank you!

Front line worker

The Coronavirus pandemic is a massive health and economic crisis, impacting individuals, families, communities and companies worldwide, on a scale that most of us today have never experienced.

Our team at Universal Logistics is tremendously grateful to our essential service workers, who have dedicated themselves to serving all of us on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.  These include healthcare workers, first responders, grocery and pharmacy store clerks, gas station attendants, auto mechanics and so many more.  Their personal sacrifice and dedication to others, despite the potential risk to their own health and safety, is truly commendable and ensures that we continue to receive the essential care, supplies and services that we have all come to rely upon so heavily.

Loading plane

The situation is no different in the logistic industry, where maintaining business as usual has become increasingly challenging, and would be impossible without the incredible efforts of our essential supply chain workers.  These include delivery and truck drivers, warehouse, rail, port, terminal, airline and ocean vessel personnel, along with many others who are not in a position to work from home and who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that your freight keeps moving.

Our family here at Universal Logistics extends our warmest thanks and offers our most sincere gratitude to those who risk so much for all of us.

Thank you!

Michael J. Glionna, President
Universal Logistics Inc.

COVID-19 disruption… sharpening our resolve

Ship docking

Six weeks into this unique work-from-home environment, we are all hoping and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, which, for many, cannot come soon enough.  The fact is, however, we don’t get to control the timeline for ending the COVID-19 pandemic.  What we can control is our unwavering commitment to our clients.  We have made it our number one priority to ensure that Universal Logistics Canada and Universal Logistics USA continue to be fully operational, providing innovative logistics solutions, uninterrupted customs clearance, consulting, freight and distribution services to all our clients.

COVID-19 is disrupting shipping globally, making shipment planning increasingly more difficult.  Despite these challenging circumstances and even though freight movement is drastically reduced, it hasn’t stopped entirely.  While it is true that the supply chain shipping process has slowed down, our efforts to keep the supply chain moving have not.   Like many companies in our industry, Universal has been forced to quickly adapt and develop new solutions to ensure that our clients continue to receive the high standard of service that they have come to know and expect from us.

So what’s happening?
Ocean freight “blank sailings” (cancellations of scheduled vessel sailings) have skyrocketed during COVID-19, as a result of decreased demand in North America and Europe.  This has contributed to schedule reliability being at an all-time low.

Airfreight’s rapidly increasing rates, service cuts and frequent last-minute flight cancellations have caused immense disruption to the global aviation industry.  Previously agreed upon shipment rates are frequently required to be renegotiated, often at higher rates.  Airfreight has, consequently, hit its lowest capacity in recent years.

Border closures by national governments anxious to limit transmission of the virus, and the limited workforce availability due to self-isolation policies, are also taking a toll on all modes of transit by increasing disruptions and delays.  Note – the Canadian and US borders remain open for all commercial trade.

What are we doing about it?
We recognize that this level of unpredictability makes it very difficult for our clients to plan ahead.  It is the reason for Universal’s focus on timely client communication which is vital to streamlining the shipping process.

We continue to:

  • Provide full, uninterrupted service coverage
  • Confirm warehouse operating days and hours of both our clients and shippers well in advance of pickups and deliveries
  • Communicate changes or delays in overseas “shipment ready” dates
  • Keep clients fully informed of shipment transit status

There is no “normal“ now as situations change quickly and flexibility is key.  Innovative logistics solutions are needed to navigate the new obstacles you are facing, and we are committed to helping.  For this reason, Universal Logistics continues to provide Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alerts, an email service providing our clients with concise and informative updates by mode of transport on a regular basis.

We have also added a new page to the Universal Logistics web site under Client Care dedicated solely to the impact of COVID-19 on international trade, including a list of informative FAQs.

If you have not done so already, please make sure you are signed up to receive Universal’s Email Alerts! and visit our web site often.

We know you have a lot of questions – please remember we’re here to help.  Contact us with any inquires and we’ll assist you in any way we can.  Stay safe!

For more information, contact John Leis, Director – Client Relations.

Resilience of ocean freight during Coronavirus

According to recent data, ocean shipping is definitely not stopping on a dime, despite the Coronavirus’ massive impact on global demand.  February data revealed that Chinese imports and exports were “in freefall”, compared to levels in 2019, because of the lockdown of Wuhan province.  A follow-up dataset in early March revealed Chinese volumes rapidly rebounding to normal levels.  It is important to note that this review was conducted before countries in North America and Europe began strict social distancing and quarantines.  Carriers have announced a large number of blanked sailings in April and May in response to booking cancellations by European and U.S. buyers, and as a strategy to support freight rates.

That said, while volume coupled with service reductions are expected in the coming weeks, at the present time ocean shipping supply chains are functioning well, especially in Canada and the U.S..  Unlike air cargo, which has been affected by reduced carrier service worldwide, ocean carriers have been able to maintain adequate service levels.  Also, North American ports and rail lines, that handle the majority of containerized ocean freight, continue to operate normally.

For more information, contact David Lychek, Manager – Ocean & Air Services.

What you need to know about importing
Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protection Equipment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has resulted in increased global sourcing for the much needed items, while emergency domestic manufacturing is getting underway, in order to protect healthcare workers and front line responders.

Imports of PPE into Canada must fulfill regulations of both the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Health Canada.  The demand for PPE has also resulted in certain countries, e.g. China and the U.S., implementing export controls which may delay or negate exports and corresponding imports into Canada.

Following is a rundown of the latest information from CBSA, Health Canada and on China and USA export delays:

The CBSA issued Customs Notice 20-12 “COVID-19: Tariff Classification and Other Information to Import Medical Supplies”, to provide useful information relating to the commercial import of medical supplies, as defined by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

This notice provides a detailed list of COVID-19 medical supplies along with available duty and tax relief, in certain circumstances, and how to assess the value for duty of donated supplies:

Health Canada:
Due to the unprecedented demand and urgent need for PPE, the Minister of Health signed the Interim Order Respecting Drugs, Medical Devices and Foods for a Special Dietary Purpose in relation to COVID-19.  This Interim Order outlines how to import and sell designated medical devices and the corresponding regulatory requirements for the List of Medical Devices for Exceptional Importation and Sale.

      • is past its expiry date
      • is a non-medical grade
      • may not have a bilingual label
    • Health Canada is fast-tracking the MDEL application process to manufacture, import or distribute Class I masks from the previous 120 days to within 24 hours
  • To import non-compliant masks, manufacturers and importers should:
      • complete the HC Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Notification form
      • include “COVID – Notification” in the subject line of the email to help Health Canada fast-track requests
      • email the completed form along with a copy of the product label to
      • While these products are typically subject to regulatory requirements, such as licensing and bilingual labelling, Health Canada will allow certain products to be sold in Canada under this interim measure, including:
        • products that are already authorized for sale in Canada but are not fully compliant with Health Canada requirements (e.g., English-only labelling, different packaging from what was authorized); and
        • products that are not authorized for sale in Canada, but are authorized or registered in other jurisdictions with similar regulatory frameworks and quality assurances.
Personal Protection Equipment

Export Delays:

Following widespread complaints of defective PPE, the Chinese authorities are enforcing stringent new export requirements encompassing quality control and customs inspections.  Due to these measures, costs have significantly increased for export clearance due to extra requirements and increased processing time.

Specifically, exports of the following products require certification from authorized testing laboratories, copies of the manufacturer’s business license and the manufacturer’s certificate from China’s National Medical Products Administration:

  • COVID-19 test kits
  • ventilators
  • medical protective clothing
  • medical protective masks
  • medical surgical masks
  • one-time use medical masks
  • infrared thermometers

On April 10th, 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a notice in the Federal Registry to prohibit the export of PPE outside of the USA as it threatened domestic supplies.  This notice includes country specific exceptions for PPE destined for use in Canada and Mexico.

In order to export PPE from the USA, export declarations must also contain a letter of attestation confirming the use and ultimate destination of the goods.  FEMA will require the letter of attestation to be submitted to them via U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) document imaging system and placed on file with CBP.  The letter must identify the purpose of the shipment of covered materials and that the items being shipped are for use in and not for transshipment through Canada or Mexico.   CBP issued a corresponding notice to outline this information.

As exports from the USA to Canada do not require an export declaration, it is recommended to provide a copy of the letter of attestation to the carrier with shipment documentation in the event it is requested.

For more information please visit our web site for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alerts along with COVID-19 trade related FAQs or contact Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs.

New NAFTA deal to enter into force July 1, 2020


U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified U.S. Congress on Friday, April 24th that the new NAFTA deal will enter into force July 1st, 2020, a month later than initially proposed.  The deal is referred to as CUSMA (Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement) in Canada and USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) in the U.S..

Certain requirements need to be wrapped up in the next two months, but Lighthizer said his office would work to ensure a smooth implementation of the new rules.  North American business leaders have been pushing for a delay until 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Importers should begin obtaining valid Blanket Certifications of Origin (or ensure exporters are prepared to include the applicable certification of origin data elements on shipping documents) under the new regulations.  This will ensure there is no lapse in preferential trade status prior to the new deal taking effect.  Between now and July 1, 2020, NAFTA Certificates of Origin will still be required to obtain preferential trade status.  Once the new trade agreement becomes effective, NAFTA Certificates of Origin will no longer be valid and must be replaced with CUSMA/USMCA Certifications of Origin or specified certification of origin data elements on shipping documents.

For clients who are currently enrolled in Universal’s NAFTA Project Management Program (Service Option 2  – Universal Logistics obtains Blanket Certificates for Client), we will contact your vendors directly to obtain the required Blanket CUSMA/USMCA Certifications of Origin.  For those clients not enrolled in this Service Option and who would like Universal Logistics to obtain the required Blanket Certifications of Origin directly from your vendors, please let us know.

To download Universal’s CUSMA/USMCA Certification of Origin template click here.

For more information, contact Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs.

Global Spotlight Quiz
Global Spotlight

Global Spotlight Quiz

Escaping the Coronavirus is on many people’s minds. Name the remote islands that might be the answer

  • Comprised of more than 100 islands, only 15 of which are inhabited with a total population of 23,000.
  • Its country’s most northerly outpost – only 400 miles (640 km) south of the Arctic Circle.
  • Visitors are attracted by its rugged beauty and impressive abundance of wildlife, stunning coastlines and dozens of ancient sites.
  • With 900 miles of coastline and plenty of hills to explore, these islands are perfect for walking, hiking and cycling.  Crystal-clear coastal waters are perfect for kayaking, diving and fishing.
  • Extremely safe place to live and visit, with only two murders in the last 50 years.
  • Known for its ponies who are small in size but very strong.
  • Settled in the early 8th and 9th centuries by the Vikings who ruled for 600 years.
  • The local economy is dependent on fishing, oil, knitted woolen clothing and tourism industries.
  • An ideal place for people to watch the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
  • Free-roaming sheep provide exceptionally soft wool, used to create its world-famous patterned knitwear.

See the answer

Quick Tip

Quick Tip

Put delivery and handling instructions in more than one place

Increase your chances of completing a successful delivery of a package by putting handling and delivery instructions on at least three of the surfaces.  This simple step will not only lead to fewer stray deliveries, but also help avoid the damage caused when a package is only marked in one place and it has to be flipped to find the labelling.

Diane Richer, Team Leader – Ocean Services (Asia)
Diane Richer, Team Leader Ocean Services (Asia)

At Your Service: Diane Richer, Team Leader – Ocean Services (Asia)

Diane Richer is a great example of Universal’s knowledgeable and experienced staff, ready to look after our clients’ needs.

Diane brings over 35 years of experience to her role, handling all aspects of ocean import freight, which is key to ensuring cargo is handled the best way possible.

Given the challenging times we are facing, Diane’s knowledge and experience is vital and our clients know they are in very good hands.

Diane can be reached by phone (905) 882-4880, ext. 1232 or by email.

April 2020

is produced monthly for the clients of Universal Logistics. Reader comment and story ideas are welcome. Comments of general interest to all Route readers will, with the permission of the writer, be published. Copyright ©
Universal Logistics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction for any commercial use is strictly prohibited.

Route is produced by Universal Logistics. Editor: Bettina Scharnberg. Email: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained herein, Universal Logistics accepts no responsibility or liability for errors or omissions. Written correspondence should be forwarded to:

Universal Logistics Inc.
125 Commerce Valley Drive West
Suite 750, Thornhill, Ontario L3T 7W4
Tel: 905-882-4880    Fax: 905-882-2250
Attention: Bettina Scharnberg
Universal Logistics

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