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TSA tells shippers to prepare for peak season

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Planning is essential as double-digit container growth continues and infrastructure capacity remains limited in the run up to the peak season, the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) warned transpacific shippers Wednesday. "We've seen gradual improvements in cargo and equipment throughput at West Coast ports and along key east/west rail routes, but the first quarter included three week-long holidays in Asia where factories are closed, enabling the supply chain network at this end to catch up," said TSA executive director Albert A. Pierce. "Now the cargo is moving steadily, lines are reporting 90 percent utilization or better, and the infrastructure will really be tested as we head into summer." The TSA said its carrier members have all finalized their 2005-2006 service contract negotiations with customers shipping goods from Asia to the United States. The TSA warned that while rate increases achieved in those contracts, plus a $400-per-40-foot container peak season surcharge, would help meet service and schedule commitments during the June-November peak period, additional cost pressures continue. "Long-term solutions to infrastructure gridlock -- Mexican or Gulf Coast port development, deepwater berths, Panama Canal widening, 24-hour U.S. port terminals -- are still years away, and current Pacific Northwest and Panama options are reaching their limits in terms of congestion, vessel size, delays and increased costs," the TSA said in a statement. "There is no substitute for planning and communication among supply chain parties to get through the difficult period ahead," Pierce said.

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