View All Route Newsletters

Take The Right Route Logo

August 2020

News and Views for the clients of Universal Logistics

arrow Visit the Universal Logistics web site

US Trade Tariffs – staying up to date

Trade War

Be among the first to know about the latest developments in the multi-front trade dispute between the U.S. and many of its biggest trade partners by signingup to receive our EmailAlerts! or visiting our web pages on the TradeWar.

The trade disputes began in March 2018, when the U.S. launched its first round of tariffs. Subsequent rounds, hitting products made in Canada, Mexico, the EU and China, have been met by equal penalties on US products.

Here are the latest updates at a glance:


August 6, 2020: U.S. imposes 10% aluminum tariff – Canada to retaliate

The U.S. announced the imposition of tariffs on Canadian aluminum to take effect August 16, 2020. The 10% tariff will apply to non-alloyed unwrought aluminum of HS tariff classification 7601.10.

Following is an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Aluminum into the UnitedStates:

(5) Any imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum articles from Canada provided for in subheading 7601.10 that were admitted into a United States foreign trade zone under “privileged foreign status” as defined in 19 CFR 146.41 prior to12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on August 16, 2020, shall be subject upon entry for consumption on or after such time and date to the 10 percent ad valorem rate of duty imposed by Proclamation 9704, asamended.

August 6, 2020: Canada announces intention to impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasure tariffs

In a statement issued by Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, she said, “In response to the American tariffs, Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.”

August 7, 2020: Canada retaliates against U.S. with $3.6B in tariffs

The Government of Canada issued a proposed list of 10% countermeasure tariffs for public comment, by September 6, 2020, to take effect by September 16, 2020.

August 16, 2020: 10% US tariff on Canadian aluminum takes effect
The 10% Section 232 duties became effective on imports of Canadian aluminum under HS tariff 7601.10. Additional duties are not subject to duty drawback.

September 6, 2020: Due date to submit any written comments to Government of Canada concerning the potential countermeasure tariffs
Written comments should be provided no later than September 6, 2020. Submissions, at a minimum, should include the following information:

  1. Canadian company/industry association name and contact person.
  2. Relevant eight-digit tariff item(s) and description of the goods of particular interest.
  3. Reasons for the expressed support for, or concern with, the proposed countermeasures, including detailed information substantiating any expected beneficial or adverse impact.
  4. Please identify if information provided in the submissions is commercially sensitive.

All comments and general inquiries should be sent to the following email address: Only submissions by email will be accepted. Please include the term “Aluminum countermeasures” in the subject line of your submission.


August 24, 2020: Call on US Phase One deal with China
The U.S. and China resumed talks concerning implementation of the Phase One trade deal after weeks of delays.

Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Mnuchin spoke with China’s Vice Premier Liu Heto address steps that China has taken to effect changes called for by the Agreement that will ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove impediments to American companies in the areas of financial services and agriculture, and eliminate forced technology transfer. These measures, along with significant increases in purchases of U.S. products by China, were discussed in order to implement the agreement. A statement on the call was issued from Ambassador Lighthizer.

The China Tariffs into the U.S. were implemented in 4 stages, based upon HS tariff classification:

$34 Billion Trade Action (List 1)
$16 Billion Trade Action (List 2)
$200 Billion Trade Action (List 3)
$300 Billion Trade Action (List 4)
Search Tariff Lists (Search for an HTS Subheading subject to a proposed or ongoing Section 301 tariff action)

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

SFCR Licence requirements update

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) updated their Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to include the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) licence requirement for Manufactured food commodities where applicable. However, as announced onApril 7, 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will not prioritize compliance activities related to these requirements during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

CFIA are recommending all importers (where required) obtain their SFCR Licence in order to avoid delays once the regulations are enforced. They have not yet determined a firm date by which imported shipments will be rejected without a valid SFCR Licence.

Canadian customs clients of Universal Logistics should provide their SFCR Licence number, including Effective and Expiry dates, if you haven’t done so already.

The SFCR came into force January 15, 2019, with a phased in approach based upon food commodity, type of activity and business size.After the initial January 2019 implementation, and 2nd phase on July 15, 2020 (most importers), the next phase is July 16, 2021 (for companies with annual food sales of $100,000 or less or that have 4 or less employees).

Most businesses will require a licence effective July 15, 2020. In order to apply for a SFCR licence, businesses will need to attest that they have preventive controls inplace.

The timelines for complying with licensing, preventive controls, preventive control plan and traceability requirements vary by food, activity and size of the food business. For information relevant to your food business, select the SFCR timelines that apply to you from the listbelow:

Food businesses must enrol at My CFIA to apply for a licence. CFIA will not accept SFCR licence applications sent by email orfax. Once your application is submitted, CFIA will generally issue a licence in approximately 15 days.

The CFIA has also created an advanced search tool called the GuidanceFinder, which lets users find information about SFCR requirements by specifying activity type, food commodity, method of production and documenttype, along with interactive tools and timelines.

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

Impact of Coronavirus on U.S. trade


In March 2020, US imports were severely affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as retailers and manufacturers pulled back and cancelled orders of non-essential merchandise amid plunging consumer demand and factory closures. Asia imports alone declined 17.5% year over year to the lowest monthly volume since March 2013.

Although the U.S. is still in the grip of the pandemic and Trade Analysts have predicted a very slow recovery, there has been a promising, sharp upswing in July’s import numbers. The latest reports show that container imports into the ten largest US ports only decreased by 2.3% in July, compared to July of 2019. This represents a significant improvement on June’s 10% deficit and May’s 17% decline.

This import rally was led by US west coast ports, which saw a 2.9% year-on-year gain. Despite the US tariffs on Chinese imports, 43% of containers still originate from China.

While this is a great sign, many industry experts are still cautious about the outlook and sustainability of the better-than-expected July import volumes.

It is still unclear how this will all play out and if the demand side will be much lighter than normal due to both trade tensions and COVID-19.

For more information, contact Chris Barnard, Vice President – Projects & Market Development.

Lithium battery safety in question after fire on freighter in July


A fire which broke out onboard an Ethiopian Airlines 777 freighter in late July has again raised concerns about the safety of lithium batteries and cargo misdeclaration. The aircraft was being loaded in Shanghai, China when the fire broke out, and sources have advised that 3 pallets of lithium batteries were onboard the flight at the time of thefire.

Lithium ion and lithium metal batteries are prohibited on passenger aircraft, however, can be carried on freighters, provided shippers adhere to the strict regulations imposed by the airlines. These regulations were put in place due to issues with undeclared counterfeit batteries, improper packaging and misdeclared batteries in the past.

IATA (International Air Transport Association) has argued in the past that it is these types of batteries that cause problems, and which will get onto aircraft despite measures against them, while legitimate manufacturers will lose out.

For more information, contact Debbie McGuire, Manager – Freight Solutions.

Canada’s trade deficit rebounds sharply in June

There is no doubt that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a dramatic impact on global trade. Therefore, it was welcome news when Statistics Canada reported positive economic data and that Canada’s trade deficit has rebounded sharply.

May’s solid export numbers indicate that the Canadian economy appears to be picking up again. The gains were widespread, as 9 of the 11 broad product categories were higher compared to April. Leading the way on a dollar-value basis were exports of motor vehicles and parts, which were up by $922 million (12.4 per cent), reaching their highest level in two years.

Exports to the U.S. were up by 3.7 per cent compared to April, a dollar-value increase of more than $1.4 billion, and accounted for about 60% of May’s export growth. In spite of the growing trade tensions with China, exports were up by 4.6 per cent ($101 million). However, 2020 to date, sales to China are 5.3% lower than they were through the first five months of last year.

Also recorded were strong export gains to Saudi Arabia ($480 million), Japan ($167 million), South Korea ($166 million), The Netherlands ($143 million) and Switzerland ($115 million).

Canada’s imports were also up, but only by just under 1%. The surge in exports, combined with modest import growth, caused Canada’s monthly trade deficit to swing into surplus territory for just the second time since late 2016.

Overall trade activity has resumed, as COVID-19 related restrictions have eased and this latest trade data points to a good-sized rebound for Q3. However, the durability of the recovery remains an open question.

The big question is what comes next? Until a vaccine or effective treatment is widely available, it is expected the path to recovery will be gradual with lingering challenges for all areas of the economy, including international trade.

For more information, contact Chris Barnard, Vice President – Projects & Market Development.

China-U.S. shipping rates and volume surge

Container ship at sea

China-U.S. West Coast container volume and rates continue their astonishing climb – not because of too little vessel supply, but because of too much import demand. US import demand is not surging despite of Coronavirus (COVID-19), but because ofit.

Companies are selling more online, and that is why they are shipping more into the U.S.. Consumers are still buying, even while unemployed, as they are getting government support and still have money. They are no longer spending on gas and commuting, but have cash and are buying other things and make more online purchases. Also, many people are leaving or have left cities, so demand for items not needed in a city has increased.

Shippers are importing more bikes, camping equipment, household items and exercise machines to the U.S. than ever before. As far as furniture, old-school furniture companies that are not selling online are not doing well. Those that are more innovative and selling online are doing much better. Stores such as IKEA are selling out. More Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is also coming in, as we are seeing a second wave of PPE. It is estimated that roughly 5-10% of volume is PPE – not just masks but all kinds of protective equipment. Shippers are favouring voyages from Asia to the West Coast versus the East Coast due to transit time and e-commerce, as it is much faster. Even if the final destination is on the East Coast, if you are running out of inventory, you can ship it into Los Angeles, transload the cargo onto a tuck or rail and ship across the U.S..

In the second quarter, carriers “blanked” (cancelled) a large number of Asia-West coast sailings to support rates. Most void sailings have now been reinstated and estimates show that carriers have increased their Asia-West Coast third-quarter capacity by 13.1% year-on-year, marking the strongest capacity growth in a decade. Spot freight rates have surged to their highest level ever despite the restoration of blank sailings and even the introduction of new capacity.

As demand outpaces trans-Pacific capacity, supply-chain complications are multiplying. There are equipment shortages across Asia-Pacific, as there are a lot more exports out of China and these empty containers are not coming back quickly enough. So, on top of very high prices, we have equipment challenges. When the Coronavirus first struck, premium ocean products stole market share from airfreight because passenger flight cancellations removed belly capacity and caused airfreight rates to spike.

How long will the rate spike last?
August is expected to be the busiest month of the July-October peak season when retailers rush to bring in merchandise for the winter holidays. Another theory is that virus fears are bringing shipments forward. Importers want to get products into warehouses and distribution centres before states lock down again in the fall. Yet another theory is that the government handouts fuelling consumer spending will end. The speculation is the Coronavirus-induced consumer recession was not averted, it was just delayed.

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

Global Spotlight Quiz
Global Spotlight

Hillbrow Tower is the highest structure in the cityand its most recognizable landmark.

Global Spotlight Quiz

Name the city that hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup final

  • The biggest city in the country.
  • The city was rebuilt 4 times in the span of a century.
  • Has the world’s largest dry port.
  • The city’s Zoo is more than 100 yearsold.
  • This city has the fastest and tallest rollercoaster on the continent.
  • The city was formed by a gold rush in the 19th century and has earned the title ‘City of Gold’.
  • It is home to almost half the world’s human ancestor fossils as well as the world’s largest man-made forest.

See the answer

For more information about shipping freight to or from this city, contact Debbie McGuire, Manager – Freight Solutions.

Quick Tip

Quick Tip

Report Lost and Damaged Cargo to your Forwarder, Carrier and Insurer as soon as possible

Any loss or damage to cargo should be reported immediately to the company or the company’s nearest settling agent. A cargo surveyor is usually appointed to determine the nature and extent, if the amount of the loss or circumstance warrants. The faster one acts, the greater the probability ofrecovery.

Gary Jin, Ocean Services – Imports

Gary Jin,
Ocean Services – Imports

At Your Service:Gary Jin,
Ocean Services – Imports

Gary Jin presently handles many of our key ocean import accounts, and does so very effectively, to ensure all our clients’ needs are met. His vast experience and ability to deal with any challenge presented makes for an extremely valuable combination, especially given the times we are in at the moment.

Gary can be reached by phone (905) 882-4880, ext. 1231 or by email

August 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. 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

News and Views for the
clients of Universal Logistics


Email to a friend

Opt Out

Professional business people team meeting and working in corporate office concept

Register now to learn more about our

101 Logistics Quick Tips

Available exclusively from Universal Logistics