Today’s Logistics Report: Yellow Strike Averted; China’s Deep Ties; Building America’s Energy Hub

Logistics

Yellow employs about 30,000 workers, including about 22,000 union members. PHOTO: JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

Yellow has another 11th-hour reprieve in hand, but the clock is still ticking for the troubled trucking company. The Teamsters union pulled back its threat to begin a strike at the company as soon as today, saying that the Central States pension fund had agreed to continue healthcare benefits for unionized workers at Yellow and its regional Holland subsidiary. The union says the fund also gave Yellow another 30 days to make a missed pension and benefits contribution. That provides a lifeline for Yellow, which said in a court filing last week that a strike would send the company into liquidation. Yellow still faces a tough balancing act in the trucking market, where customers have diverted shipments from the carrier and set up contingency plans for a possible shutdown. That can only add to the liquidity problems that caused Yellow to miss the pension payment in the first place.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at an electric motorcycle factory in Hanoi last week. PHOTO: HAU DINH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Biden administration’s attempt to surgically cut economic ties with China is proving difficult to execute. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen touted growing trade with other countries last week in a visit to Vietnam, where annual trade with the U.S. has surged in the past five years to $140 billion. The WSJ’s Andrew Duehren writes the share of U.S. goods imports from China has slipped recently while expanding with other countries. But disentangling China’s role in global supply chains is far from straightforward. Many alternative nations such as Vietnam or South Korea are themselves deeply intertwined with China. And Vietnamese production in many cases still involves Chinese companies. China’s dominant role
in clean-energy technology complicates matters. Vietnam has become an important provider of solar panels to the U.S., but an investigation found that Chinese companies sidestepped tariffs by rerouting products through Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries.

“We need to trade with China, and at the same time we need to make critical strategic supply chains more secure. Easy in words, but not obvious in practical terms.”

— Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commissioner for the Economy

About 2 million barrels of daily crude exports passed through Corpus Christi in the first half of 2023. PHOTO: VERONICA G. CARDENAS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A race is underway to build stronger connections between the hub for U.S. energy trade and the rest of the world. The U.S. has transformed global markets by boosting crude-oil exports more than 30-fold over the past decade, with much of the business flowing through Corpus Christi Bay. The WSJ’s David Uberti and Benoît Morenne report the Texas Gulf Coast port handled about half the country’s 4.1 million daily barrels of oil exports in the first four months of 2023 thanks to unique terminals that make the site cheaper than competitors. With pipelines nearing capacity and U.S. output set to reach new heights, moves are underway to better connect the American oil patch to a fuel-hungry world. Corpus Christi is the
closest deep-draft port to the oil-rich Permian Basin. Its terminals can also more rapidly load up tankers than other Gulf Coast sites, shaving critical time and costs from the exporting process.

  • China expects to increase coal imports by a third this year to a record 400 million metric tons. (Splash 247)
  • Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines added orders for two very large crude carriers with LNG fuel capability to the two it already had at a Chinese shipyard. (TradeWinds)

A concept for a blended-wing aircraft, shown in a 2006 rendering. ILLUSTRATION: BOEING

The Pentagon is in the market for a very big cargo plane. A very, very big plane. The U.S. is looking to replace its C-17 Globemaster and C-5M aircraft, mammoth jets that are aging and out of production. The WSJ’s Doug Cameron reports the military is looking at a wide range of replacements, including planes that can carry big loads on long flights across the Pacific, as well as a combination of drones, gliders, and even space rockets to blast cargo anywhere in the world within minutes. The search is significant for the commercial aerospace market beyond the work it will bring to suppliers. Military technology often bleeds into the commercial aerospace business, particularly in the air-cargo
arena. One option under consideration is a freighter with a so-called blended-wing design, an old concept that advances in materials and production may bring closer to reality.

  • Atlas Air took delivery of a second of four 777-200 freighters it plans to operate for Mediterranean Shipping. (FlightGlobal) 
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$2,749

Average revenue per intermodal load at trucking company Knight-Swift in the second quarter, a 24.5% decline from last year and down 15% from the first quarter.

Natural-gas prices in the U.S. have fallen 65% from a year ago and are defying seasonal trends by declining this summer. (WSJ)

A tornado heavily damaged a Pfizer plant in North Carolina, sparking concerns of further strains on pharmaceutical supplies. (WSJ)

Amazon told white-collar employees across the company they may have to relocate to main offices in bigger cities. (WSJ)

Leaders of the union representing dockworkers at British Columbia ports are recommending members ratify a new tentative contract agreement. (CBC)

India is banning the export of non-basmati white rice to control rising domestic prices. (Reuters)

French jet engine maker Safran is buying a flight controls business from Collins Aerospace for $1.8 billion. (Financial Times)

Drought across the U.S. Midwest is triggering lower water levels at big rivers and threatens to disrupt waterways cargo traffic. (The Loadstar)

Proctor & Gamble global operations chief Fares Sayegh says the consumer-goods supplier is focused on a ‘Supply Chain 3.0’ project to better integrate its network. (Supply Chain Management Review)

Tesla plans to open a regional distribution center in Newburgh, N.Y., by the end of this year. (Albany Times-Union)

U.S. regulators ordered Maersk Line’s American division to rehire an officer who was dismissed after alerting authorities to alleged deficiencies on a vessel. (Maritime Executive)

Texas-based startup Terminal Industries raised $17 million in a seed funding round backing its technology bringing artificial intelligence to freight yards. (DC Velocity)

Trimac Transportation acquired Alberta-based crude and oilfield hauling specialist Jacknife Oilfield Services. (Commercial Carrier Journal)

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