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September 2021

News and Views for the clients of Universal Logistics

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US port congestion crisis

Port of Shanghai

Container ships are once again stacking up off Southern California’s jammed ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as a flood of imports and logjams in domestic logistics networks affect operations at the biggest U.S. gateway for seaborne trade with Asia.  The number of ships waiting to enter this gateway has reached the highest level since the pandemic began, increasing delays for companies trying to replenish inventories during one of the busiest times of the year for ocean freight.

In mid-September, over sixty container ships were at offshore anchorage, awaiting a spot to berth.  Just a couple of months ago, the number of container ships at anchor at these ports, which together handle more than a third of all U.S. seaborne imports, had dwindled to nine.  In normal times, the number is one or none.  Leaders of the two ports say the armada of cargo ships is due to surging volumes and unpredictability in global supply chains caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, and has been exacerbated by shippers pulling holiday season imports forward to avoid delays later.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach provide an egregious example of vessel bunching but other ports, including Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, Savannah and New York-New Jersey have contended with the same issue on and off over the past few months.  The sheer volume of equipment sitting idle, which results in reduced capacity overall, is leading to even more compromises to the logistics chain.  This ripple effect, which reduces the number of available containers in the system and ties up vessels as they sit idle, is one of the reasons we have seen ocean freight rates increase substantially this year.  Demand for containers and vessel space remains strong, however, supply of such assets remains low in comparison due to these ongoing issues.

In an effort to offset this, in August container lines began upping their deployment of Trans-Pacific capacity, with approximately 22 percent more capacity available to the West Coast through December than was available in March through July.  Carriers are also adding approximately 14.4 percent more capacity to the East Coast through year-end.  While this may be good news for shippers, it could lead to even worse port congestion.

In terms of where we are heading, many experts suggests port congestion will persist through the remainder of this year and possibly into 2022.

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

Preparing for 2022 HS Tariff Code changes


Every five years the World Customs Organization (WCO) updates the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Tariff).  These updates are intended to ensure that the HS stays up to date in light of new technology and provides visibility into new product streams and emerging global issues.  The amendments will take effect on January 1, 2022, when the seventh edition of the HS (commonly referred to as HS 2022) enters into force.

The HS 2022 will see some major changes, comprised of 351 sets of amendments, covering a wide range of goods.  The key factors driving the HS 2022 amendments include:

  • advances in technology;
  • new product streams;
  • changing trade patterns;
  • environment considerations;
  • health and safety;
  • the fight against terrorism; and
  • facilitating implementation of various international Conventions.

The changes to the HS tariff will be implemented by all 158 member countries of the WCO.  The amendments are technical in nature and do not involve any changes in tariff policy.  For Canada, these changes are rate neutral and revenue neutral.

Concordance tables to the 2022 HS may be found here for Canada and the USA.

The changes to the 2022 HS may be either:

  • One to One:  One HS changes to another, or
  • One to Many:  Some products under one HS change to a new HS.

All importers should review the concordance tables to determine if any of your goods may be affected and work with your Customs Broker to ensure the applicable changes are implemented for 2022.

For more information, or to find out how Universal Logistics can assist with this project on your behalf, contact Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs.

Global Spotlight Quiz
Global Spotlight
Drottningholm Palace is the private
residence of the country’s royal family.

Global Spotlight Quiz

Name the city whose Royal Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies and banquet at the Concert Hall and City Hall.
  • The city’s subway is also known as the world’s longest art gallery – the majority of stations are adorned with paintings, sculptures and mosaics.
  • This city houses 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites – Drottningholm Palace, Woodland Cemetery and Birka.
  • The Old Town is a well preserved historic district – its cobblestone streets are reserved for pedestrians only.
  • Has as little as six hours of daylight in the winters and as much as 18 hours of sunlight in the summers.
  • Hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and hosted the equestrian portion of the 1956 Summer Olympics otherwise held in Melbourne, Australia.
  • The country’s global furniture chain, IKEA, boasts a 594,167 square foot location in this city.

See the answer

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

Quick Tip

Quick Tip

Ensure your shipping/receiving warehouse staff is available to receive delivery of your shipments quickly

Once advised your shipment is available for local delivery, take delivery at the earliest opportunity.  The longer your cargo sits on a pier, at a terminal or warehouse, the more likely it is to be pilfered, lost, stolen or damaged.  Help to minimize your risk of problem shipments.

Stephen Hatton, Team Leader – Toronto Airport
Stephen Hatton,
Team Leader – Toronto Airport

At Your Service: Stephen Hatton, Team Leader – Toronto Airport

Stephen Hatton joined Universal’s Customs Operations Team in December 2014, working from our Airport Branch location and handling Courier Low Value shipments.  Today, in addition to his expanded Customs Operations responsibilities, Stephen is actively involved in airfreight imports and exports, as well as our Distribution Services operation.

In July 2021, Stephen was promoted to the role of Team Leader – Toronto Airport, where he will continue to be involved in all areas of our Airport operation.

Stephen can be reached by phone (905) 676-2763, ext. 2030 or by email.

September 2021

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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