April 2008
Ocean Freight Air Cargo Customs & Border Protection

Ocean Freight


Annual General Rate Increase Negotiations with Ocean Carriers Begins



As always, the ocean carriers review and renew all ocean freight rates and put them in effect on May 1st of every year. April is a crucial month for International Freight Systems as we begin these negotiations with our contract providers. This year we have been hearing from the trade that most, if not all, ocean carriers are not only going to have a General Rate Increase (GRI) but will also be most concerned about the fuel costs that are directly affecting the costs of ocean shipping. In the past, many of the ocean carriers have negotiated special tariffs with various importers, contract holders and NVOCC’s allowing for decreased fuel costs. The information we have gathered leads us to believe that the ocean carriers will not be flexible on fuel costs this coming contract year. They will apply fuel surcharges equally across the board for all importers/ exporters, NVOCC’s and other contract holders. The cost of fuel for their vessels varies from country-to-country and these fuel surcharges will be reflected in the fuel surcharges associated with those particular trade lanes.



Export Space Extremely Tight



Ocean imports grew only marginally last year due to several reasons. The subprime mortgage crisis has left consumers edgy. In addition, record fuel prices and a weak dollar have lowered consumer confidence and slowed down imports.


However, on the flip side, in the first quarter of 2008 we have had record exports. Again, because of the weak dollar, people in foreign countries can now once again afford to buy US- made goods. This is good news for the U.S. but exporters should be mindful that fuel, rail costs and labor are still on the increase. Since the export boom, we have had to fight for space for every export container we ship on your behalf. Vessels are booked out 5 – 6 weeks in advance. If you are an exporter, please build this into your schedule. Remember to book export shipments with International Freight Systems as soon as possible so that we may block space for you.


Please be aware that since exports are so tight, export shippers from North America will have to bear a much higher share of the round-trip cost in order to secure space and equipment.



BAF levels for Trans-Pacific Market



Steamship lines have announced that the U.S. West Coast BAF levels for May 2008 will increase from the April 2008 published rate. The published tariff rates for May 2008 will be:


20-foot container $ 796

40-foot container $ 995

40-foot high cube $ 1120


Inland Fuel Charges

Charge effective May 1, 2008


$ 102 per container trucked only cargo

$ 353 per container for railed, or truck/rail cargo



Air Cargo



TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Inspection of Cargo


Please be aware that when shipping air cargo there are many layers of security and regulations.

All cargo shipments are subject to inspection.  International Freight Systems will not automatically perform such inspection, except as may be required by law.


Please watch for further updates on new TSA requirements.  The TSA regulates all aspects of air cargo security.  Their website is www.tsa.gov



Customs & Border Protection Updates


U.S. and China Begin Test C-TPAT Validation Program.




The Chinese government has agreed to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection begin to a test program to validate Chinese suppliers under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) who supply current U.S. importers that are already members of the C-TPAT program. The General Administration of Chinese Customs, using the minimum requirement criteria of the C-TPAT program, validated several factories in China in the pilot program and plans to assess the benefits of such cooperation. They are hopeful that the data gathered from this test program will determine whether the participants will receive greater benefits from their participation in the C-TPAT program and fewer examinations and quicker release of imported cargo.


Customs and Border Protection Describes Documents Used to Verify Free Trade Agreement Textile Claims



U.S. Customs and Border Protection has published a notice describing what documents are required from importers of textiles and wearing apparel in verifying country of origin on importations from countries are subject to Free Trade Agreements. Documents required are certificate of origin, purchase orders, invoices and an affidavit completed by a party having direct knowledge of the yarn or fabric formation and fully describe the fiber content, yarn count, fabric type and identifying the full name and address of the manufacturer.


More information on these requirements can be found at:

If you are importing fabrics or garments from a country with which the U.S. has a Free Trade Agreement and are benefiting from such agreement, we encourage you to read this notice carefully and put in place provisions which will ensure that your commodities are, indeed, eligible for any special duty rates associated with these Free Trade Agreements. Failure to provide documentary proof of compliance could lead to stiff penalties and fines by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.



Consumer Product Safety Commission to Add Additional Surveillance Staffs at U.S. Ports



The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced that it will create an Import Surveillance Division which will be responsible for inspecting, detecting and stopping hazardous products from entering the U.S. The Port of Long Beach, California will be the first port to have a permanent CPSC staff and other ports will be added and staffed as the division expands.


Imports of lead-contaminated toys prompted this quick response by the CPSC to monitor more extensively those products prone to contamination. Toys and seafood will be the initial targets amongst others.



International Freight Systems (of WA) LLC Newsletter is a bulletin for customers and partners.  Information contained in this publication has been gathered from a number of public sources that, to the best International Freight Systems’ knowledge, are true and correct.  It is our intent to present only accurate information.  However, in the event any information contained in this newsletter is erroneous, International Freight Systems (of WA) LLC accepts no liability or responsibility.

For more information on importation and U.S. Customs please click on the below link directly to Customs & Border Protection website:  www.cbp.gov

For more information on air cargo matters, please click on:  www.tsa.gov