Wednesday, December 30, 2020

As advised in previous member notices, Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) is represented on the Empty Container Working Group (ECWG), chaired by Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and being a sub-committee of the Port Transport and Logistics Taskforce (PTLT). 
Today an end of year summary (FTA/ APSA MEMBER LOGIN REQUIRED) was received from Susie Harwood (Executive Director Freight Customer Strategy and Technology, TfNSW) outlining longer term initiatives being examined by the ECWG.

Importantly, the summary also referenced relief measures noting that a record numbers of empty containers have been exported from Port Botany in recent months and that shipping lines and stevedores are continuing to maximise evacuation of empty containers from Sydney. 
Some of these outcomes include:
  • a shipping line reported reducing its inventory of empty containers from 13,000 to 5000 TEUs
  • another reducing its inventory of empty containers from 25,000 to 16,000 TEUs
  • a third shipping line has completely evacuated its empty container stock out of NSW
  • shipping lines are diverting vessels from normal schedules to dock at Port Botany to evacuate empty containers
  • shipping lines and stevedores working together to maximise container exchanges with a focus on evacuating empty containers.


FTA has responded to TfNSW acknowledging its positive contribution however tempered the outlook advising that members are seeing, at best, marginal improvements and are reporting a continuation of significant issues with several major shipping lines resulting in large scale re-directions, staged movements, delays and costs that are ultimately being passed on down the supply chain to importers.

FTA noted the TfNSW reference in its summary "It is expected that these increased efforts by shipping lines and stevedores will assist in significantly reducing the backlog of surplus empty containers at Port Botany" and has sought a forecast as to when the empty container congestion may clear, transport operators can move containers from their yards and we can return to something close to an efficient supply chain.

The empty container congestion is not unique to Port Botany with Melbourne also impacted. FTA is working closely with the Container Transport Alliance of Australia (CTAA) and key stakeholders to establish remedial actions.

FTA and Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) representatives met with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 10 December 2020 raising the matter of container detention administration. During this engagement, consent was received to incorporate our advocacy position into a supplementary submission to the  Proposed Class Exemption for Ocean Liner Shipping (complementing the original FTA / APSA joint submission from 28 February 2020).

We will continue to keep members up to date on pertinent developments with an advocacy focus on shipping competition and related practices into 2021.

In the interim, we again encourage members  to review the national container detention policies administered by shipping lines as provided in our member notice (FTA/ APSA MEMBER LOGIN REQUIRED) from 22 December 2020 .
Paul Zalai -  Director and Co-Founder, FTA / Secretariat, APSA