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  • Writer's pictureStephen Fodor

Cyber seaport security, 'Blue wave' import surge, and Chinese New Year

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

January 11, 2021

The IMO 2021 Cyber Guidelines and the Need to Secure Seaports

(Maritime-Executive) The coming of a new year often holds promise for the future. With the coronavirus pandemic dominating center-stage last year, many have their eyes keenly focused on new beginnings with the start of 2021. For some in the maritime industry, especially owners and operators of commercial vessels involved in international trade, 2021 brings a new set of guidelines for protecting vessels—the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) guidelines on maritime cyber risk management.

These new guidelines, a milestone for maritime safety and security, are the product of collaboration and hard work among shipping industry leaders and IMO Member States. Some in the shipping industry consider this development to be game changing. Whether game changing or not, implementation of this new model is a vital step toward forging a uniform approach for combating cyber threats against vessels.

Notably, however, the 2021 guidelines leave an equally vital, and maybe just as vulnerable, part of the shipping industry—port facilities—without a similar set of principles. Now that the IMO’s vessel guidelines are in the implementation phase, Member States and maritime industry leaders should again prioritize cybersecurity and collaborate at the IMO to develop uniform cybersecurity standards for port facilities.

‘Blue wave’ stimulus could spur import surge on top of surge

(American Shipper) Could today’s unprecedented boom in containerized imports just keep going year-round? Right through Chinese New Year in February? Through the second quarter, then the fall peak — and all the way into 2022? Could the already overwhelmed global trade network stay stuck at its ceiling until next year?

With COVID hospitalizations at record highs, almost 4,000 U.S. deaths per day and vaccine distribution slow out of the gate, a full-year boom scenario may sound implausible. But it just got more likely, courtesy of this week’s two Democratic Senate wins.

The “blue wave” political scenario is now a reality. And with it, the likelihood of much higher stimulus. That, in turn, would support much higher consumer spending — and imports — just as stimulus did in the second half of last year.

According to Jefferies Chief Economist Aneta Markowska, “What seemed like an outside probability just a few weeks ago looks increasingly likely to become reality.”

With Democrats to control both the House and Senate, President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda “is back in play, which means even more fiscal expansion in the near term,” she said.

On top of the just-passed $900 billion lame-duck package, Jefferies now foresees another $900 billion to $1 trillion in stimulus.

“Although the funds will be distributed fairly quickly, we expect a big chunk to be saved and spent gradually,” said Markowska.

In light of new stimulus, Jefferies just upgraded its 2021 GDP growth outlook from 5.2% to 6.4%. It raised its 2022 outlook from 3.8% to 4.7%.

Liners highly unlikely to slash service for Chinese New Year

(American Shipper) Every year, the global supply chain grapples with a major disruptive event: Chinese New Year (CNY). Volumes at sea plunge as Chinese factories shut down. Carriers temporarily “blank” (cancel) sailings due to lack of outbound boxes. Importers pull cargoes forward before the holiday to ensure they have enough inventory.

CNY falls on a different date every year. Its impacts on world trade are so substantial that analysts often plot year-on-year comparisons in relation to CNY timing, not the calendar.

For the second year in a row, the CNY pattern looks like it will break the mold.

The Wuhan outbreak extended the normal CNY period of blank sailings in 2020 by several weeks. The Chinese COVID outbreak essentially lengthened the traditional vacation break. This doubled the usual CNY holiday effect.

The mirror-opposite scenario is taking shape in 2021. Chinese factory workers will still take their vacations, but carriers appear almost certain to blank drastically fewer sailings than usual.

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