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December 2023

News and Views for the clients of Universal Logistics

Universal's Community Giving

Our corporate wide adherence to family values includes a great commitment to giving back to the community that peaks during the holiday season. “We always try to best the previous year’s results and this year was no different as our employees at every level and every location stepped up like never before,” said Company President, Michael Glionna.

Universal's Community Giving - Route Newsletter: December 2023

Most significant this year is the fantastic amount of funds raised for Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH), a Canadian charity that organizes and runs fantasy hockey tournaments across the country, and raises money to help fund the work of over 40 homeless support agencies. The funds raised by Universal benefit 360Kids ( and Blue Door Shelters (, two local organizations committed to ending homelessness.

In October and November, six employee teams at Universal rallied together to raise an incredible $36,161, only slightly behind last year’s total! Together with the company’s funds matching program and serving as participant gift sponsor for HHTH’s York Region tournament, a total contribution exceeding $72,000 was made by the Universal group.

Even more giving took place in December as our employees enthusiastically donated to two other charities we support annually: the Vaughan Food Bank and the Toy Mountain gift drive. “It is a great feeling knowing that the multitude of food and gifts contributed by our employees will bring joy this holiday season to those who are less fortunate,” said Mark Glionna, Vice President – Client Relations & Business Development.

Canada's Forced Labour Reporting Act comes into force January 1, 2024

Canadian Bill S211, “An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff “, received Royal Assent on May 11, 2023 and is expected to come into force January 1, 2024.

Canada's Forced Labour Reporting Act comes into force January 1, 2024 - Route Newsletter: December 2023

forced labour means labour or service provided or offered to be provided by a person under circumstances that

  • ( a ) could reasonably be expected to cause the person to believe their safety or the safety of a person known to them would be threatened if they failed to provide or offer to provide the labour or service; or
  • ( b ) constitute forced or compulsory labour as defined in article 2 of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, adopted in Geneva on June 28, 1930.

The act requires certain companies (“Entities”) to submit annual reports, on or before May 31 each year, outlining steps taken during it’s previous financial year to prevent and reduce the risk that forced labour or child labour is used by them or in their supply chains.

What entities are covered under the Act?

entity means a corporation or a trust, partnership or other unincorporated organization that

  • ( a ) is listed on a stock exchange in Canada;
  • ( b ) has a place of business in Canada, does business in Canada or has assets in Canada and that, based on its consolidated financial statements, meets at least two of the following conditions for at least one of its two most recent financial years:
    • ( i ) it has at least $20 million in assets,
    • ( ii ) it has generated at least $40 million in revenue, and
    • ( iii ) it employs an average of at least 250 employees; or
  • ( c ) is prescribed by regulations.

 What entities are required to file reports?

This Part applies to any entity that is:

  • ( a ) producing, selling or distributing goods in Canada or elsewhere;
  • ( b ) importing into Canada goods produced outside Canada; or
  • ( c ) controlling an entity engaged in any activity described in paragraph ( a ) or ( b ).

 What must be included in the report?

The report must also include the following information in respect of each entity subject to the report:

  • ( a ) its structure, activities and supply chains;
  • ( b ) its policies and its due diligence processes in relation to forced labour and child labour;
  • ( c ) the parts of its business and supply chains that carry a risk of forced labour or child labour being used and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • ( d ) any measures taken to remediate any forced labour or child labour;
  • ( e ) any measures taken to remediate the loss of income to the most vulnerable families that results from any measure taken to eliminate the use of forced labour or child labour in its activities and supply chains;
  • ( f ) the training provided to employees on forced labour and child labour; and
  • ( g ) how the entity assesses its effectiveness in ensuring that forced labour and child labour are not being used in its business and supply chains.

Reports will be made available to the public in two ways:

  • In an electronic registry on Public Safety Canada’s website.
  • In a prominent location on the reporting entity or government institution’s website.

For more information please refer to the Government of Canada– Public Safety and Bill S211.

Airfreight requirements for lithium ion batteries

At a recent meeting of the Dangerous Goods panel of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a State of Charge (SoC) requirement of 30% was introduced for additional categories of lithium ion batteries being transported by air. This change will apply to lithium ion batteries that are being packed with other equipment – meaning the device and battery are shipped in the same box. Currently, the SoC only applies to batteries shipped by air on their own.

This is a major change and was brought forward because of increased concern around the safety of shipping lithium ion batteries. Shippers will have to make the extra effort to check the SoC in the batteries and ensure that the correct level is maintained, which means additional checks need to be done.

Airfreight requirements for lithium ion batteries - Route Newsletter: December 2023

For lithium ion batteries contained in equipment (e.g. a laptop computer), the decisions are slightly different, as there will be a state of charge limit recommended. There will also be an SoC limit recommended for transporting battery-powered vehicles.

The difference in approach between batteries packed with and contained in equipment is due to the protection offered by the equipment itself. Additionally, many medical life saving devices have batteries contained in equipment, and the panel did not want to slow down the flow of such equipment around the world.

It is important to note that the new SoC regulation only applies to batteries with a Watt-Hour (WH) rating above 2.7 WH, and the change will take effect on January 1, 2026.

A special provision will be made available to shippers who cannot meet the 30% SoC. They will be able to apply for permission to have a higher SoC, which will be subject to approval by the State of Origin and the State of the operator. These measures will, of course, translate into more time and costs for shippers.

Currently, this restriction is only applicable to air shipments and has not been introduced for other modes of transport.

For more information, contact Veena Ramesh, Manager – Airfreight Services.

Panama Canal drought disrupts trade

Panama has been experiencing the worst drought in 50 years, which is restricting capacity at the Panama Canal, an important route for cargo to/from Asia to the US East Coast. On an ordinary day, approximately 36-38 ships transit the Panama Canal, however, due to the restrictions caused by low water levels, they are only able to accommodate 22 ships per day.

In February 2024, they are further reducing the capacity to 18 ships per day. Congestion continues to mount on a daily basis, with a rising number of ships facing delays that are set to worsen over the next two months.

Panama Canal drought disrupts trade - Route Newsletter: December 2023

Carriers were facing three options on how to manage this issue:

  1. Continue on their normal routing via Panama Canal with transit time extended by 2-6 weeks depending on congestion.
  2. Divert vessels to go through the Suez Canal with transit time extended by 5 to 12 days depending on loading port.
  3. Divert vessels to go via the Cape of Good Hope taking the long way around Africa with at least an additional 3 weeks delay of transit time.

Currently, at least four container lines have abandoned shipping through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal because of the ongoing threat of attack from Houthi forces in northern Yemen. MSC, CMA CGM, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have all signaled that they will take the Cape of Good Hope route, avoiding the risk of missile strikes, drone attacks or hijackings near Bab el-Mandeb. The Houthi movement has threatened to attack any ship carrying cargo to Israel, and the militant group has the full width of the Red Sea in range off Hodeidah. OOCL has announced it is stopping service to Israel, and as a result OOCL appears to satisfy the Houthis’ political conditions for safe passage. Unlike its peers, OOCL has not announced plans to cease navigation through this strategic waterway. If it continues to operate using the Suez Canal, it will benefit from a 1,900 nautical mile distance savings relative to competitors who choose the Cape route. Spot prices on this core east-west trade lane have begun to spike, bringing a potential revenue opportunity for an industry with an otherwise bleak financial outlook this year. As well, many steamship lines have introduced emergency risk or war surcharges, to reflect steps taken to ensure crew, vessel and cargo safety.

As a result of this ongoing situation, an international coalition has been created to protect ships sailing through the Red Sea. Branded Operation Prosperity Guardian, this multinational security initiative includes Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain. Some of the countries will conduct joint patrols, while others provide intelligence support in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Analysts advise that continued attacks could precipitate a “global supply chain crisis”.

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

Air & ocean freight market update

Ocean Freight:

2024 looks to be another year where supply will exceed demand. Ocean rates are at a historic low, and analysts have advised that they we will continue to see downward pressure on freight rates in Q1. There are mixed predictions on where the market rate will land for 2024. Some analysts advise that with the losses the carriers are facing, they will do everything in their ability not to allow the rates to drop further, while others predict rates to further drop by 1/3 of the 2023 level.

Many carriers will be taking receipt of new vessels in 2024, which will bring approximately 2.8 million TEUs of space into a marketplace that is already swimming in overcapacity. We may also see carriers trying to cut costs by cutting labour, as we have seen with Maersk laying off 10,000 employees this past November.

Air & ocean freight market update (Ocean Freight) - Route Newsletter: December 2023

We will see carriers attempt to control overcapacity by introducing more blank sailings, however, there is too much supply to be able to reduce it enough to have a balanced market.

The current political situation is also making the world more unpredictable and increases the likelihood for disruptive events to change the course of the market.

Air Freight:

The air freight market goes hand in hand with the global economy. According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), rising US dollar strength was cited as one of the main factors that could lead to an increase in demand for 2024.

November was the first month where demand was higher than supply, with e-commerce being the main driver. The increase in e-commerce volumes from Hong Kong and China to Europe and the USA inflated global cargo demand by 5%. The feeling in most industry circles is that the worst of the freight recession in air freight is over, with 2024 bringing stability, however, recovery could take until late summer.

Air & ocean freight market update (Air Freight) - Route Newsletter: December 2023

The Chinese New Year holiday which begins on February 10th, will result in the usual increase in shipping, however, paired with the winter’s volatile weather patterns, could result in cancellations, payload restrictions and backlogs. Proper planning will be key to avoiding storage charges.

For more information, contact Debbie McGuire, Director – Freight Solutions or Cathy Fong, Director – Freight Pricing.

Global Spotlight Quiz

Global Spotlight Quiz

Name the city known for a sweet treat – Nockerl

  • The Old Town with its well-preserved Baroque architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Home to numerous Mozart-themed attractions.
  • Red Bull, the world-famous energy drink, was created in this city in 1987.
  • Derives its name from the salt mines around the city.
  • The Sound of Music, the five-time Oscar-winning musical, was filmed in this city and its surrounding area.
  • Silent Night, Holy Night, the famous Christmas song, was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, who hails from this city.
Name the city known for a sweet treat (Nockerl) - Route Newsletter: December 2023
A very popular dessert, the hills of sugary beaten egg whites represent the snow-covered local mountains.

Answer: Salzburg, Austria

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

Quick Tip

How to avoid shipping mistakes

Avoid unnecessary shipping complications by following these simple tips:

  • Carefully count every piece when loading or unloading shipments to ensure the order matches the paperwork.
  • Document any visible damage on the sign-off receipt.
  • When you receive a shipment, make sure you are getting what you paid for.

When you send a shipment, avoid short payments of your invoices by ensuring every piece of cargo is shipped.

Quick Tip

At Your Service:

Bassam Elghaziri

US Customs Operations (Buffalo)

Bassam Elghaziri joined Universal Logistics USA in April 2022, working at our Buffalo, NY office, where he is responsible for handling cross border clearances from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. Bassam has extensive knowledge, handling customs clearances at all ports across the USA.

Bassam can be reached by phone (716) 882-4100, ext. 2606 or by email.

Bassam Elghaziri, US Customs Operations (Buffalo) - Route Newsletter: December 2023

Bassam Elghaziri
US Customs Operations

Route 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 © 2023 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:

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Attention: Bettina Scharnberg

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