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Top story: Supply and demand imbalance continues to linger

In today's market, there's an imbalance between carrier supply and demand, driven by the surge of carriers entering during the Covid period. Despite a gradual decrease in carrier counts over the past year, achieving balance remains a challenge due to the lingering effects of increased competition and slower retraction.

temp controlled carrier

There are two similar, yet distinct factors of timing involved within the U.S. for-hire truckload industry: cyclicality and seasonality. Cyclicality is defined by the four market cycles we inevitably churn through as the market works to find balance between freight demand and carrier supply. This cycle is dependent upon many factors but typically lasts approximately three years, despite this current market cycle lasting much longer due to a prolonged period of over-supply. Seasonality, on the other hand, is defined by the recurring situations that we see repeated each calendar year. These seasonal events could be very regimented events like holidays, or they could also be events that will likely occur, but the timing is less predictable, like a winter storm. Both the predictable and unpredictable events are plannable; however, because we can use the learnings of the past to forecast the impact of said events when they arise, then enact those plans to limit their effects on service and/or pricing. Here we will focus on the impending events of produce season, Mother’s Day, Roadcheck Week, and Memorial Day.

Produce season

Produce season is when fresh fruits and vegetables begin to be harvested and shipping volumes surge. It begins each spring as temperatures rise. In the U.S., naturally, it begins in southern states, traditionally in late March/early April, and moves north through summer and into the fall. With Mexico being further south, harvesting of those crops begins there slightly before it does in the U.S. As the weeks progress and warmer weather pushes north, more regions begin shipping produce and the volumes increase. This creates a two-pronged impact: freight demand increases despite the same amount of carrier supply, and due to the nature of the commodities, this freight needs to move with urgency to maintain freshness. Produce tends to move at a premium compared to standard freight in order to secure a truck, and due to the imbalance of supply and demand to begin with, this means there will be even less remaining truck availability. Here is a map of the United States highlighting where specific commodities will start to increase outbound shipment volume during the month of April.


The key to maintaining high service levels and low costs when shipping out of impacted regions during this time is to provide as much lead time as possible, and if your shipment doesn’t necessarily have to move on a specific day, allow for multiple pickup days (a pickup window). This flexibility will go a long way. Keep in mind that while most produce commodities do ship in a refrigerated van, produce season tends to impact both temperature-controlled trucking as well as dry van. This is because refrigerated trucks also participate in the dry van market, with the refrigeration unit turned off. As produce season ramps up, these additional trailers are less available to haul dry goods, and thus contributes to the imbalance of supply and demand in the dry van market. Another consideration is capacity moving inbound towards these growing regions. With abundant demand in these growing regions, carriers often have an increased desire to haul freight into the area and may take freight at a lower rate in the spot market to position their trucks there.

Roadcheck week

International Roadcheck Week is an annual three-day event, taking place this year May 14-16, across North America. During this time, CVSA-certified inspectors conduct compliance and enforcement initiatives with nearly 15 trucks and motorcoaches inspected every minute, on average. During this timeframe we often see the truck availability tighten, as the time taken for inspection eats into the hours of service and with the event being so broad, that time adds up quickly. There is also a potential for some trucks to be temporarily taken out of service, if deemed necessary, until they are compliant. To help illustrate the effect of Roadcheck Week, we’ve analyzed DAT’s dry van load-to-truck ratio (LTR) for over a decade to see the daily impact.


On average, the three days of the event have a significant impact as the LTR tightens 40-60% week over week. Due to the downstream impacts of the slowing of the supply chain, the following day after the event sees an aftershock impact of over 30% week over week. While it is true that Roadcheck Week is not the sole contributor to these changes in LTR, as sometimes other events such as increasing produce season or even a holiday can coincide with timing, it is certainly the primary contributor. Understanding the impact of this disruption is half the battle, the other half is planning accordingly by offering flexibility with pickup/delivery time and potentially dock hours. For more information on how international roadcheck impacts trucking, ask your account manager to connect you with our capacity teams.

Memorial Day

While our previous academic research with MIT’s Center of Transportation and Logistics identified that Memorial Day is minimally disruptive to contractual truckload routing guide adherence, it is more impactful in the spot market. This is primarily due to time off on/surrounding the holiday. Drivers taking time off means that there is less carrier supply, and when shippers shut down for the day or operate with skeleton crews on the days leading up to the holiday, they tend to try to “make up” for the lack of production and ship additional volumes shortly after. As depicted by the average of more than 10-years of DAT data below, you can see the increase in LTR on the days following Memorial Day.

Mothers Day

The last upcoming disruption that we are highlighting is less impactful at a national level, but significant regionally. Mother’s Day is a holiday when most shippers and carriers don’t actively shut down operations to observe; however, there is a surge in demand for flowers, as much as 3200% when compared to the off-season peak. Since 85-90% of floral is imported from South America and passes through Miami, this makes for quite a strain on truckload capacity out of Florida. Nearly 10 years of DAT’s load-to-truck ratio shows the tension in the two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day for refrigerated trucking shown below.


Dry van trucking is impacted as well, although not to the extent as temperature controlled. This is due to the lack of refrigerated trailers moving dry freight during this time, as illustrated below.


The expected disruptions like produce season, holidays, etc. are accounted for within our spot market forecast shown in the next section. To learn more about these or other potential disruptions or how these may specifically impact your business, please connect with your C.H. Robinson representative.

U.S. Spot Market Forecast

Our 2024 dry van linehaul cost forecast is being cut from the previously stated 2% y/y growth to -2% y/y. While we still expect a robust produce season, the adjustment is reflective of a slightly flatter slope of increase in the second half of the year. We expect that spot rates will begin to increase as carrier supply returns to more normalized levels; however, recently the pace of carrier exits from the market continues to lag where we would expect it to be at this point in the cycle. We monitor Class-8 tractor OEM orders, production and cancellations very closely as it’s the only measure of aggregate tractor capacity being added to the U.S. market. We were encouraged by the downtrend in production levels (orange line) in December and January. However, production levels ticked back up in February and March. We think this was due to some misplaced carrier optimism around the turn of the freight cycle due to a stronger than expected Holiday selling season combined with winter storms in the Great Lakes/Midwest regions that drove up transactional rates. Class-8 tractor Net Orders (blue bars) dropped 40% in March M/M and tend to lead production, but we do think elevated production levels in Feb/March need to be ingested and that is why we are cutting the cost forecast.


With spot rates still below the estimated breakeven cost of hire, and the carrier community still oversupplied, the environment isn’t overly indicative of a shift in the market cycle just yet. Furthermore, the still slow attrition of carriers may inhibit a sharp increase in pricing, which is why we amended our forecast to reflect this.


Our 2024 refrigerated linehaul forecast similarly reflects the changes made for dry van freight stated earlier. The 2024 temperature-controlled forecast is now at -1% y/y, adjusted from 1% y/y growth. 

Contract Truckload Environment

The contractual landscape has remained relatively unchanged since last month. The contract environment tends to follow the spot environment, so given our forecast above for spot pricing, we don’t see too much change within this space holistically for several months. Although one thing to keep in mind is the duration of said contracts, as longer-term commitments may see different pricing than shorter-term commitments.

The following insights are derived from TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson, a Transportation Management Systems (TMS) which offers a large portfolio of customers across diverse industries throughout the United States.

Contractual Route Guide Performance

Route Guide Depth (RGD) is an indicator of how the back-up transportation provider strategy works if the awarded provider rejects the tender. As displayed in the following chart, the RGD has remained relatively flat for approximately one year. For long hauls more than 600 miles, the RGD in March 2024 was 1.19 (1 would be perfect performance and 2 would be very poor) which is slightly better (2%) than the prior month of February at 1.22, but slightly worse (1%) than March 2023’s RGD.


Overall, route guides are performing very well, with primary service providers accepting loads at pre-pandemic levels, and the first backup provider accepting rejected tenders most of the time. Yet, even in the softest of markets the RGD is not a perfect 1.0, but rather is hovering around the 1.20 mark.

As we anticipate tightening market conditions in the second half of the year, consider talking to your C.H. Robinson account team today about how they can help you properly segment your freight to make the best procurement decisions based on your freight characteristics. When the market tightens and tender rejections increase, having a pre-determined plan in place will help you avoid costly premiums on freight that will inevitably move in the spot market. 

Voice of the carrier from C.H. Robinson

C.H. Robinson has two customer communities, shipper customers and carrier customers. What follows are aggregated insights from conversations with carriers of all sizes to offer perspective into their top concerns over the past month.

Market insights

  • Economic uncertainty is still the top concern, especially as doubts arise around cuts to interest rates this year. Many carriers are still lingering in the market prolonging at the bottom of the cycle.
  • Rising insurance premiums are a continued issue despite strong safety scores


  • More shippers are asking carriers about plans around electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles in their fleet, but these carriers expressed that the infrastructure still is not there yet for significant investments
  • These carriers also noted that electric vehicles cost over $425,000 in some instances which makes it near impossible to have a positive return on investment


  • Increased driver wages remain a hurdle.
  • We are seeing a larger share of company drivers now as fewer drivers wish to be an independent owner operator due to the state of the market

A key value proposition of C.H. Robinson to our contract carriers is aggregating lane volume and demand pattern variability from our vast shipper network. This provides our carriers with more predictable volume from C.H. Robinson, and as a result, they are interested in and able to offer consistent capacity and market pricing with high performance. Engage your account teams for more information on how to leverage our scale.

Refrigerated truckload
Market cycle conditions remain soft entering April, but there are signs of volume increases as produce season ramps up. While we expect the overall impact to remain fairly muted due to general market cycle weakness, there will be pockets of tightness. To combat this, work with your account team to provide visibility to supply chain needs so they can build the proper lead time and flexibility into the loads.


East Coast – Throughout the East Coast, loads continue to move with a high level of velocity. Produce season has started with select commodities in South FL. We should see it in full swing towards the back half of April, but we’re not expecting significant issues with coverage.

Central U.S. – Capacity markets through the Mid-North and Mid-South regions remain soft. No foreseeable disruptions through April. South TX produce season will begin in the coming weeks, but due to the market softness we don’t expect overwhelmingly large cost increases.

West Coast – The Pacific Northwest has moved beyond any weather disruptions and capacity is available. There was some slight tension through the Easter holiday, but nothing lasting. Transition season is in full swing as harvesting moves from AZ to the Salinas, CA region. Work with your C.H. Robinson team to stay informed on regionalized opportunities and how to best schedule freight to capitalize on the best price and service. 

Flatbed truckload

Within the flatbed market, we have already begun to see the seasonal increase in capacity occur. The southeast is the primary geography where outbound freight has begun to increase, creating tightness relative to the extreme lows that were experienced in the past several months. Much of this tightness is due to building construction material demand outperforming forecasts. We have also seen an impact due to some pockets of severe weather and we expect to see more of this occur intermittently over the next few months. We’ve started to see this increase in demand outbound California and Texas as well, yet we still have ample capacity available to handle the surge of volume. We are starting to see more project freight requested, which can often create lumpy demand and volatility. Especially when poor weather persists, it can cause issues with job site delivery access. We recommend keeping this in mind if delivering to job sites, as well as having a contingency plan in place to limit impact when delivering to construction locations.

A good amount of heavy equipment comes through the port of Baltimore and moves in the U.S. on flatbeds. As such, the unfortunate collapse of the Baltimore bridge has impacted the flatbed market out of Baltimore much more significantly than the other equipment types. We have seen some customers rerouting cargo to other ports and have offered successful support minimizing disruptions in deliveries. Collaborate with your C.H. Robinson team to set yourself up for success.

Today’s market is still defined based off the closing of LTL carrier, Yellow. With over 300 terminals comprising of nearly 20,000 dock doors, the lack of this supply from the marketplace made an immediate impact. Since the shutdown, less than half of Yellow’s terminals have been sold to other LTL carriers. The rest of the terminals were either sold to non-LTL companies or still remain to be auctioned at a later date. Carriers are still in the process of preparing the purchased terminals from the Yellow auction for use; although, a handful of terminals have recently come online. Out of the 24 terminals that Estes purchased and 5 re-leased at auction, two have just recently opened for business, as noted in an Estes news release April 15th. They plan on reopening the other terminals from the Yellow acquisition in the back half of the year. Out of the 17 purchased terminals and 11 re-leased terminals that Saia acquired, they recently stated on April 8th that one in Montana is now opened. The carrier with the most purchased owned-terminals, XPO, announced on April 10th that they have opened three of their terminals acquired from Yellow. XPO has also released their plan to open the remaining service centers. The plan starts with a dozen of these centers opening within 3-6 months, and several centers still 12-18 months out from being operational. Roadrunner announced on April 10th as well, that their lone acquisition from the auction is now operational.

Ultimately, this means that the capacity previously provided by the third largest LTL provider is still effectively out of the market, relying on other carriers to move over 48,000 loads per day without the aid of the service centers that were handling them. This has resulted in pricing power tipping towards the carriers, despite LTL tonnage, as reported by the publicly traded companies, continuing to remain fairly modest. The Long distance LTL Produce Price Index (PPI) as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, increased 5.2% in March on a y/y basis, increasing to the highest point in history aside from a short spike of the index in May-July of 2022. And with just less than half of the terminals sold to LTL carriers, coupled with the slow rate of bringing these auctioned terminals back online, it appears that this trend is not something that is going to shift anytime soon.

When looking at the LTL carrier picture, absent of Yellow, you can see the impact of the freight dissemination. It appears that the tail of smaller LTL carriers has picked up a large portion of Yellow’s volume, and widely believed that there is also a good chunk of that moving as multi-stop truckload due to the soft TL environment. The largest of carriers were mostly able to capture some share though, with some new entrants into the top five and top ten. Visualizing the top 10 U.S. and Canadian carriers by percentage of share within the LTL market based off the data from the Journal of Commerce you can see that these carriers are responsible for just over two thirds of the industry revenue.


To learn more about how C.H. Robinson can help you leverage the best service from these and other carriers, contact your account team.

United Parcel Service (UPS) has achieved a significant milestone by securing a new contract that positions the company as the primary air cargo carrier for the United States Postal Service (USPS). This move, effective immediately, marks a substantial expansion of the relationship between UPS and the USPS and is set to reshape the domestic air cargo delivery system following a strategic transition period.

In what stands as a testament to both organizations' commitment to innovation and efficiency, UPS will soon assume the majority of air cargo transportation responsibilities for the USPS across the United States. Carol B. Tome, CEO of UPS, has expressed great optimism about the partnership. "Together UPS and USPS have developed an innovative solution that is mutually beneficial and complements our unique, reliable, and efficient integrated network,” Tome stated, underscoring the potential for this alliance to significantly boost the capabilities of both entities.

The agreement, which promises to last a minimum of five and a half years, is scheduled to fully kick into gear starting September 30, 2024. While the financial terms of the contract remain under wraps, the implications of this deal are clear—it promises a transformative impact on the speed and reliability of mail and parcel delivery services throughout the country.

This development arrives on the heels of the conclusion of discussions between the USPS and FedEx, the latter being the current primary air cargo provider. FedEx has had a long-standing and fruitful partnership with the USPS for more than two decades. However, as both organizations evolve their strategies and operations for the future, the contractual relationship is set to end. FedEx's agreement with the USPS is due to expire on September 29, 2024, with no extension on the horizon due to the parties' failure to agree on mutually beneficial terms.

FedEx has stated that until the expiration date, it will continue to fulfill its duties to provide air transportation services domestically and to Puerto Rico. "Upon the conclusion of the contract, we will implement adjustments to our network that will drive efficiencies and create more flexibility," a FedEx spokesperson stated. Moreover, FedEx plans to address the elimination of structural costs currently in place to support postal service volume. "In conjunction with our DRIVE efforts, FedEx profitability will improve in FY25 and beyond," the spokesperson added, indicating a strategic pivot towards enhancing operational efficiency and profitability.

As the baton is passed from FedEx to UPS, the industry is bracing for the changes this significant handover will bring. With UPS's established reputation for logistical efficiency and the USPS's critical role in the nation's communications infrastructure, this contract heralds a new era of streamlined operations and strengthened delivery networks. Stakeholders across sectors are watching with keen interest as UPS prepares to elevate the USPS's air cargo capabilities and set new standards for delivery services in the United States.

2024 has started with strong volume growth for the North American intermodal market. Through March the market has shown an 8% y/y growth. Part of this growth is due to weaker 2023 figures and the other is due to an increase in international and port volumes. The West Coast import, driven by the complications in the Panama and Suez canals, has allowed for a 20% y/y increase in North American port volumes YTD. Intermodal capacity remains available while pricing remains competitive given the state of market supply. Intermodal pricing is currently very advantageous to shippers, right now is the time to lock in your rates for the year before the markets tighten in the coming months.

While volumes rise across the nation, there are no capacity-constrained domestic container markets. Drayage and rail capacity is still abundant. As the rails and drayage providers see the volumes grow, the deep discounts we have been seeing are tempering.

Pricing prospects

Intermodal spot market pricing is continuing to head upward and is expected to turn positive y/y by July. The forecast is for intermodal spot rates to finish the year up 0.6% excluding fuel. The trend will continue into 2025 with a forecasted increase of 3.4% for that year as the IMDL market follows the strengthening truck rates.

The railroads continue to look for unique solutions to get more containers on their networks. Lock in your rates for 2024 or risk a rate increase in the second half of 2024.

Competing service to truckload

Rail transits continue to perform near the five-year average on time to plan. Despite a slight drop in average speed in March the rails are optimistic service levels will stay high. They are reporting an ample supply of both trains and crews. Additionally, expedited service options provide savings with similar speeds to over the road in many lanes.

The railroads continue to look for unique solutions to get more containers on their networks. As we go through bid season, lock in your rates for 2024 or risk a rate increase in the second half of 2024.

Ports and inland transportation

General updates

The Port of Baltimore is preparing workarounds to start handling containers and other ocean freight on a limited basis by the end of April ahead of a planned full reopening to vessel traffic by the end of May. Meanwhile, other ports along the U.S. East Coast continue to process diverted Baltimore-bound cargo with little to no impact on their operations. Even so, you can still expect to see diversion-related fees during Baltimore’s closure.

A final rule issued by the Federal Maritime Commission establishes new requirements for how common carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) must bill for demurrage and detention charges, providing clarity on who can be billed, within what timeframe, and the process for disputing bills. A key provision of this rule determines that demurrage or detention invoices can only be issued to either: (1) the person for whose account the billing party provide ocean transportation or storage of cargo and who contracted with the billing party for the ocean transportation or storage of cargo; or (2) the “consignee,” defined as “the ultimate recipient of the cargo; the person to whom final delivery of the cargo is to be made”. Demurrage and detention bills cannot be issued to multiple parties simultaneously. Most of the rule takes effect on May 26, 2024.

Effective March 13, 2024 the Kansas Pool of Choice (KPOC) formed and C.H. Robinson, for now, has chosen NACPC as its IEP of choice for direct chassis billing. Inland Product is vetting one other provider though for the pool. Like the MPOC pool in Memphis/Nashville these KPOC chassis are interoperable with any SSL.

  • The Atlanta market is still seeing some challenges as truckers are adjusting to the new NS Austell chassis procedures. The more lead time we can give carriers, the better they can plan their dispatch and prioritize the containers that need to be out first to avoid rail storage.
  • The Norfolk market has seen an increase in pricing activity due to diversions and potential volume shifts from the Baltimore port. Additionally, based on feedback from our carriers, driver wait time has increased substantially at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) terminal. Where previous turn-times at VIG were around 45 minutes, now they are now experiencing turn times of upward of two hours.
  • NY/NJ – The PNCT terminal is currently offering Saturday hours to help with the influx of containers rerouted to market from Baltimore. Maher, APM, Global Bayonne and New York terminals are operating as normal and running smoothly this week.
  • Baltimore - Over the first couple weeks since the bridge collapse, high winds and heavy rain complicated survey and clean-up operations, above and under the water. The Dali needs to be cut from the bridge wreckage and towed to a safe berth. Several hazardous units have been damaged in the wreckage and many containers are dislodged and the forward stacks dangerously unstable. Most of the steel cutting needs to be done underwater and visibility on the floor of the channel has been poor at less than two feet.
    • A pair of large floating cranes are now on site and working. Two more are scheduled to arrive in the coming days to help expedite clean-up operations.
    • Opening a channel was a key objective, and this has been achieved. But this passage has a limited draft of just 15 feet and is reserved for salvage craft.
    • A secondary larger channel may open in the coming days, but this will only accommodate small barges and watercraft with drafts up to 25 feet
    • For now, all commercial shipping remains restricted, and it is possible there may be draft limits to contend with once operations are first resumed
    • It is hoped a limited single lane channel will be open by the end of April, allowing passage for all barges and possibly some deep-water vessels
    • The US Army Corps of Engineers has indicated it is aiming to fully reopen the 700ft wide / 50 ft deep Federal Navigation Channel by the end of May
Central / Ohio Valley
  • Chicago - BNSF LPC in Elwood, IL is implementing a new sequencing process starting April 23rd. The process is supposed to allow drivers to wait for their container near the Driver’s Assistance Building until a transfer spot is available next to the requested container. When the transfer spot is available, the driver will be told to proceed to the appropriate location through the RailPASS app.
  • Minneapolis/St Louis/Kansas City/Omaha - In MN with ONE moving to Flexivan chassis, they brought in about 100-150 chassis and as a result TRAC is moving chassis out of market (which unfortunately is causing a shortage of pool chassis). MN BNSF is also grounding boxes with volumes staying steady and fewer chassis. For KC multiple carriers are reporting congestion and delays at the BN (Edgerton, KS ramp) - wait times exceeding 6 hours in many cases. Omaha market carriers are reporting a lot of containers in stacks at the rail ramps causing delays and congestion still. St. Louis is no longer an active market in C.H. Robinson’s direct chassis billing program as of March 13, 2024.
  • Oakland is reporting 6 vessels at berth, zero vessels at anchorage with 8 more vessels to arrive in the next 48 hours
  • Port of Los Angeles - Container volumes are up by 10.38% compared to previous week and up by 4.96% compared to 2023, there is currently 7 vessels scheduled to be offloaded this week, average time at berth is 3.7 days which is a slight improvement from last week. We will see a decrease in volumes by 20.31% next week with 84K TEUs to be processed through this port and YOY decrease of 6.69%.
  • International rail service through the NWSA continues to be fluid. Rail dwell for import containers across all on dock railyards averaged 2.5 days for the last thirteen weeks.
  • Maersk’s TPX service has moved from T18 to Husky Terminal. The service rotation also recently changed to Qingdao – Shanghai – Busan – Tacoma – Yokohama – Qingdao.
  • T5 and T30 will be closed Mondays through April
  • T18 will be closed April 12, 19 and 26
  • Husky Terminal advised they continue to see a high volume of drivers arriving early for appointments and not exiting Lot-F once asked to leave. Waiting in Lot-F is not permissible under any circumstances. Contact Husky for additional information.

For a full market report on global forwarding, visit the C.H. Robinson Global Freight Market Insights.

During the initial two months of 2024, shipments from Mexico to the U.S. increased 7.7% y/y. In February alone, Mexico reported a 12% increase y/y while imports into Mexico from the U.S. saw an increase of 2.6% compared to the same period last year. Mexico remains the primary exporter to the United States, surpassing China. Key exports from Mexico to the United States include automobiles, electronic products, oil, and agricultural goods.

Conversely, China's position as a trading partner with the United States is weakening, evident from a decline in its exports to the United States during the same period, signaling a shift in the trade dynamics between the two countries. Chinas and Mexico’s trading relationship with the U.S. seem to be trending in opposite directions.

Tex-Mex Auto Cluster takes off

Over the past decade, the Texas-Mexico Automotive Supercluster (TMASC) has rapidly become North America's top hub for vehicle production, experiencing a 55% expansion in vehicle production. Joint investments by assembly companies and their suppliers in the region have fueled this growth across Texas, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and San Luis Potosí. Nuevo León's pivotal role, along with upcoming facilities like Tesla and Bobcat, underscores TMASC's significance.

New Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in Nuevo León and Coahuila, coupled with impending projects like Tesla's Gigafactory, are driving TMASC's expansion. Moreover, TMASC is attracting investments in cutting-edge technologies, positioning the region as an automotive innovation leader. Mexico's nearshoring trend and substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have further solidified its automotive industry's global prominence, exemplified by TMASC's resurgence. This success signifies Mexico's growing influence in the global automotive landscape.

Mexico has re-entered the top 25 countries attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) due to nearshoring, the relocation of companies from Asia and other regions to Mexico. The auto parts industry in the country is also experiencing significant growth, in part due to nearshoring. In January of this year, the industry achieved its highest production level ever. Nearshoring has also allowed Mexico to expand parts manufacturing to 10 states some of them weren't previously involved in the automotive industry, like the state of Yucatan.

Another factor that will be influencing the demand for transportation services is the increase of maritime port activity. The Port of Manzanillo, which handles over 40% of Mexico's containers and 70% of exports, saw a 7% increase in commercial cargo movement in the first two months of 2024. This growth is attributed also to an increase in commercial flow from Asia, including vehicles.

Mexican peso strengthens against the dollar

The Mexican peso has recently touched a level of 16.3368 units per dollar, which is the closest to the dollar since August 2015. This strengthening of the peso during 2024 contrasts with the trend of the dollar, which has strengthened against many currencies, and has been surprising for some analysts given the economic circumstances. Factors such as foreign exchange flows from exports, remittances, and foreign investment tied to nearshoring, along with the interest rate differential between Mexico and the United States, contribute to this appreciation. This will continue to cause financial problems for cross-border carriers whose invoicing is in dollars. Shippers must take these trends into consideration when designing their strategy for the rest of the year since the exchange rate may influence rates in the short term.

New Carta Porte version now mandatory

This electronic document is required for all goods transported within Mexico and serves as proof of legal possession of merchandise, as well as verification of the transportation service. The new version includes additional mandatory requirements and information sections for regulatory compliance.

Shippers should consider securing reliable transportation partnerships, optimizing logistics operations, and ensuring flexibility to adapt to the increased demand for transportation services. Talk to your C.H. Robinson representative and leverage our expertise built on 100 years of experience doing cross-border business. Streamline your cross-border shipments to and from Mexico and optimize your North American supply chain mitigating risks. 

Cross-border: U.S.—Canada

The Government of Canada is modernizing and streamlining the collection of duties and taxes for goods imported into Canada via the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) project. On May 13th, 2024, CARM will become the official system of record that trade chain partners (TCPs), including Customs Bonded Warehouse (CBW) licensees (operators, importers and brokers) will use for the assessment and payment of duties and taxes.

A transitional phase is set to begin on April 26, 2024, ending on May 13, 2024 at which point CBSA’s old system CADEX-CCS will be deactivated and their new system CARM R2 goes live. Events tied to the transitional period are discussed here in depth in Customs Notice 24-14 that was issued today by CBSA. The Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB), of which C.H. Robinson is a member in good standing, reports that they have been receiving inquiries from their members about the CARM (CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management) cutover or blackout period. CSCB does know that there will be a period of time during which customs brokers and importers will not be able to transmit CADEX (Customs Automated Data Exchange) transactions to the CBSA.

After the blackout period the accounting data that was held by customs brokers or importers during that period will need to be submitted as a CAD (Commercial Accounting Declaration) to the CBSA. The CBSA has advised that late accounting penalties will be waived during the cutover period. Please note that, during the cutover period, shipments will be released as usual with the possible exception of a scheduled maintenance outage on a weekend to allow for updates to the ACROSS (Accelerated Commercial Release Operations Support System). The timing and duration of any shutdown to release systems will be communicated as soon as known as well as through the normal channels for outages.

C.H. Robinson offers an excellent CARM webpage that provides guidance and resources for those who are still seeking to sign up for the CARM Client Portal (CCP) and to delegate authority to a Canadian Customs broker. If you have any further questions, please reach out to your account team for more clarity.

FMCSA has announced a delay in the anticipated release of the final speed limiter rule to after May of 2024. FMCSA has also initiated a broad project to upgrade and improve their registration process for motor carriers and brokers. This will provide an opportunity for FMCSA to improve safety, increase system security, and sharpen data analysis and collection. More details can be found in this blog.

Retail diesel's national USA average price per gallon of $4.02 in March is down from $4.04 in February, yet still lower than the $4.21 average from March 2023. As depicted in the visual below, created based on the data provided by the EIA, you can see that fuel has been relatively flat in the past several weeks. Despite the recent tempering of diesel rates after the momentary spike in early February, crude oil prices have yet to fall back down to the levels that they were before that spike occurred. There are many factors that play into the cost of diesel, but crude oil prices are the largest, so there remains upside risk for diesel if oil prices remain elevated or increase any further.

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