2021 has begun and it looks like it is going to be another year of issues in the logistics sector.  To start off with it appears that container rates from China to the UK are attempting to beat bitcoin for the fastest increase in spot pricing. Currently container rates for sailings this week and next week are at 11500USD per forty foot container about 9000USD more than normally expected. LCL pricing is seeing similar with peak rate surcharges over 200USD per cubic metre. This pricing has topped anything ever seen. Despite this enormous price increase China agents are still advising that space needs to be booked as soon as possible due to reduced sailing schedules to the UK. At the moment it still looks like it will be February before things settle down and may well go into March/April if the ports do not get themselves sorted out.

Lines such as CMA-CGM have been forced to suspend calling at Felixstowe due to the on going congestion situation. The delays at Felixstowe were becoming so bad that the vessels where beginning to bunch up at the UK end and then when they finally berthed they discharge and reload was slower then normally.  This has been impacting the overall line schedule. Containers for the UK are being left in Rotterdam for eventually transshipping into the UK. With the volume of containers involved the actually transshipment date and finally arrival in the UK can be up two weeks from the original ETA. Shipments which are making it to UK ports are constantly being delayed from their original eta’s. We have had shipments arriving 10days later than originally planned, which is then resulting in haulage being cancelled. Congestion issues are not just limited to the UK with LA and Long Beach in California,USA both experience serious congestion. Most vessels arriving at either port are having to wait for a free berth at anchor.

BREXIT has finally happened with the UK leaving the EU at 2300hrs on Thursday December 31st. Within the last few days of 2020 a trade agreement was reached which meant most goods will continue to move between the two trading areas without any tariffs. Shipments have continued to move across the borders without any significant issues. In fact the biggest issue was when the French banned all incoming traffic  from the due to the COVID virus which resulted in complete chaos just before Christmas. This took over a week to get fully resolved so it is perhaps fortunate that a trade agreement was reached.

Despite the fact that a trade agreement has been reached, imports and exports to the EU will now need a full customs entry to be done. This means shippers and consignees need to ensure all their paperwork is in order. The majority of goods being imported from the EU will not attract any additional duty due to the trade agreement which means there will be no actual increase in price for the goods but there will be additionally charges in handling the customs paperwork.

If you are looking for a supply of containers on the continent for shipping into the UK and Ireland, we have a large quantity of shippers own equipment including 20ft and 40ft containers available. Our equipment is available in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg with smaller quantities available in other continental ports. Let us know the number of containers you require, we will arrange the release of them to your own transport and notify you where they can be returned to. All of our containers are all fully plated and checked to ensure they are all clean and in good condition.Suitable for shipping machinery and other project cargo, vehicles, palletised goods where the use of standard trailers is either not practicable,  goods are at risk of higher damage in transit or secure enough.

While  normally most clients prefer to arrange their own transport. If you require us to hand the actual logistics we can arrange both the collection,sea-freight, and delivery to site or just the sea-freight section. We can offer shipping services into Grangemouth, Teesport, Hull/Immingham, Tilbury, Bristol, Liverpool, Belfast (Northern Ireland) and Dublin(Ireland).

In addition to one off shipments our containers are suitable for long term projects where the goods need to be stored securely and protected from the weather on site pending final call off. Long term hire can be negotiated depending on the length the containers are need for,  at rates much below any shipping line would charge for them. A further option is containers can be also be purchased from us with a buy back option.

If you want more information please use the contact us form or ring us to speak to us directly.

Shippers on Equipment Available to Hire

Containers Available for Hire and Purchase


One of the main come backs from the Coronavirus is how much China features in a lot of companies supply chains. China realised that in order to maintain its market competitiveness in the world it need to invest heavily in the transportation routes which moved all the products to and from China. Its solution was the China’s Belt and Road Initiative shorten to BRI announced to the world in 2013. BRI aims to link Western Europe and East Africa through a series of ocean shipping routes and overland roads and railways. According to the official website by 2019 had signed co-operation documents with 29 international organisations and 123 individual countries to promote this scheme.

Temburong Bridge
The list of projects completed and under construction dwarfs anything else being undertaken in the world at the moment. This includes the Temburong Bridge which recently completed in Brunei. This bridge which is now the longest in South East Asia at 30km in length links a previously isolated region to the country’s capital. It crosses water, marsh land and tropical rain forest. Reportedly constructed using methods to reduce the impact on the environment the bridge passed through. The region itself was previously economically and socially under developed. Building the bridge is to support new growth both in industry and social welfare. Once all the associated works are completed the bridge reduces the travel time to 30 minutes which is a quarter of the previous 2 hour travel time.

In Laos a new railway line is under construction as part of the BRI scheme. Laos is a landlock country, however with the new railway it aims to become a hub for move cargos in the region. The new railway runs from the Chinese border to Vientiane,Laos. It will be 414 km with almost half of its length being in tunnels. Now under construction it is expected to be open for traffic at the end of 2021. Providing a strategic link for China in this region.

The railways are key link for moving shipments faster both from China to Europe and returns. Germany who trades the most with China out of all the EU has several rail networks under development Leipzig-Shenyang, Duisburg-Chongqing, Hamburg-Zhengzhou, Hamburg-Harbin and Nuremberg-Chengdu. Currently there are rail services into Poland, Germany and Hungary using the existing railway networks. Currently that does mean changing wagons due to the gauge differences between European, Russian and Chinese railways. By 2019 over 14000 rail trips had been made between 50 Chinese cities and 15 European ones. A trial train service ran from Yiwu in China all the way to Stanford-le-Hope,Essex in the UK in 2017 and then a return service was run.  Chengdu, Sichuan province has moved over 4600 accumulative trips to Europe since it started operations in 2013. DHL has now started its own services from China to Hamburg and China to Nuess and aims to cut the transit time down to only 10 days on the fastest services.

There are concerns in the West especially from the US that this is all just giving a China a new way to exert its own military or political influence on countries who are recipients of Chinese investment and can not say no. The Chinese government counteract this by saying it is to serve the purpose of supporting mutual economic growth between these countries and China. The Chinese hope that it will lead to better openness with the additional benefit of both parties gaining a cultural understanding of one and another. The has written how

Local people in the country where the investment is happening often have mixed views with countries in Africa wondering if this is just colonisation by another name. It will no doubt be many years before the full impact of this massive investment can be properly assessed if it was overall good for the regions it effected. The Chinese government internal handling of the Coronavirus will also determine how confident western firms will be in continuing their own investment in China. It is so important that that the Chinese government issued a formal note to all enterprises involved in the initiative in February to resume work and production as quickly as possible any of the many major projects effect by the Coronavirus to avoid them being seriously delayed and impacting the role out of the scheme. However overall it does remain a very impressive endeavour.

Transshipment in logistics occurs when cargo either individual pallets or full containers are moved from one transporter to another while being moved from the collection place to the delivery place. This practice is frequently undertaken by shipping lines in order to maximise the cargo loading of their vessels. Transhipping containers allows shipping lines to serve smaller ports which the large ocean vessels (often called the Mother Vessel) are unable to enter due to their draft,length or width. These are called feeder services and allow the small ports to connect to other ports all over the world.  For container ocean freight services one of the biggest transshipment port is Singapore in the Far East. Other major transshipment ports are Rotterdam in Europe which has many feeder services calling at UK ports , Jebel Ali in the Middle East and Hong Kong in China.

Transshipment is a regular feature of multi-model shipments. Containers moving from an inland destination may initially move from a inland terminal to a port by rail, they are then transshipped onto a vessel and taken to the nearest destination port. Next they are transhipped onto a train, and sent by rail to the destination terminal.

For shippers moving containers which are going to be transhipped it does not mean any additional paperwork. Shippers should be aware that ocean transit times will normally always be longer compared to a direct service as the container has to be off loaded to quay and then wait for the feeder vessel to arrive at the port before being reloaded.  Depending on how close the port is to the final destination this additional transit time may be offset as the final on-carriage by road or rail will be shorter. For shippers the main benefit for a transshipment service from a main country port to another main port is cheaper freight rates. So for low value, or non time sensitive shipments these routes are worth considering in any supply chain planning.

Co-loaders who consolidate part cargoes from many shippers may transship cargoes at strategic ports locations around the world. This allows the co-loader to increase efficiency and reduce transport costs for shippers.  A co-loader may ship from 6 ports spread around the two different regions. The cargo from each individual port is insufficient to fill a full container for the other five ports. So the co-loader has a central port where all the cargo is consolidate. Now the co-loader has sufficient cargo to fill a container for each port. Neither the shipper nor the consignee is effected is still going being moved as contracted, but all parties benefit from the lower costs.  Shippers should always ensure their cargo is suitably packed to ensure the shipment withstand being handle multiple times.

[This is part of logistics help articles]

Image of Coronovirus

AJF main operations in the Middle East are in Jebel Ali, U.A.E. served by our experienced agents. We offer a range of logistics services in this important logistics hub serving not just only the Middle East but also Europe, Africa, USA/Canada and the rest of the Americas in co-operation with them. Due to the U.A.E geographical location it can serve as a practical location to serve Europe and Africa and the Far East including Australia. Companies with manufacturing facilities and supply chains which start in China can have the goods transport to Jebel Ali from various China ports. At Jebel Ali the goods can be devanned and then the products can be picked to assemble the final shipment from the individual factories to the final consignees’ requirements.

Below are the logistic operations which can be undertaken in Jebel Ali.

  • Warehousing
  • Transshipment
  • Cargo Consolidation
  • Cargo Splitting and Distribution
  • Product Relabelling
  • Order Fulfilment

Our warehousing services are available to all our clients who need to rework their products, have them stored for later distribution, or quality inspected. Where containers have been handball loaded at the manufacture we can destuff the container, repack on pallets, shrink-wrap and then export to the final delivery destination.

Our transshipping services allow importers and exporters to change containers, packaging marks and shipping documentation where the shipper may not want the receiver to know where the goods original origin was. This service is particularly useful where the shipper is acting as an agent only and never handles the goods directly themselves and wants to avoid the buyer contacting the supplier directly. It is is also useful for companies shipping to politically sensitive regions where there may be restrictions on them.

The consolidation service allows clients who source from various factories which are exported from various ports in the far east and have a central location to consolidate these shipments before transporting them to their final destination in the Middle East, Africa, or Europe. We take either Full Container Loads or part loads, store them and once we have sufficient goods in store we then load them into one container, arrange the new paperwork and then export them. The consolidation service can be used for multiple shipments from Europe  to go to a Far East country or Australia.

Cargo Splitting and Distribution is the reverse to the consolidation service where a client has one supplier but multiple receiving destinations. We take into our warehousing the shipment which can consist of one or multiple containers. The shipment is then devanned from the container. Following the orders given from the client the cargo is split and packed onto pallets, relabelled where required and then exported to each destination. This allows the client to export in bulk from the supplier at more cost effective rate and if required make if more difficult for them to know the final destination.

The order fulfilment services are suitable for clients with international supply chains which need a location with good links to all worldwide locations. We can pick orders to a clients specific requirements and they can then be airfreighted out immediately to be with the end customer within 24hrs or  to a clients distribution centre for them to manage the final delivery. This allows stock to be held in one central location which allow clients to be able to manage seasonal demands or environment where there may be a sudden demand for one product type in multiple locations.

Vietnam is becoming an increasing popular alternative to China and and more buyers are integrating Vietnam manufacturers into their company’s supply chains. Vietnam has three industrial regions northern, central and southern. The northern region which includes the border with China has the North Key Economic Zone this is made up of several cities including Hanoi. This region is particularly attractive to companies who would like to move some of their manufacturing into Vietnam and keep limited manufacturing operations in China.

The Central Key Economic Zone is made up of five provinces in this region with the majority of industry being concentrated in the Da Nang area.  This area is currently not as economically developed as the north or south regions, but is continuing to attracted inward invest and is steadily growing its occupancy.

The Southern Key Economic Zone is made up of several southern provinces which included eight cities. The biggest of these is Ho Chi Ming City and the region around this has created the biggest economic investment zone across the country, with the highest occupancy rate. Industrial sectors include:

Logistics within Vietnam are now well developed around the main ports, with significant investments in the port facilities and surrounding infrastructure. Most of the world’s main shipping lines have at least one service every week calling at Hau Phong, Dan Nag and Ho Chi Minh allowing a whole range of European destinations to be served.

From Ho Chi Minh City all common equipment is available including 20ft and 40ft High Cube size containers for standard shipments. Flat racks and open-top containers are available for out of gauge shipments.  and LCL services for loose and palletised cargoes. AJF can give rates for shipments to buyer’s purchasing under incoterms such  FCA, Ex-works and FOB incoterms for importers and DAT/DDP for exporters from Ho Chi Minh.

If you are a UK exporter and are an existing exporter or looking to export for the first time, especially with BREXIT happening in the UK. AJF handles export shipments from the UK to the Ho Chi Minh region we can offer assistance on which incoterms to use, best way of shipping including packaging of goods and if using an LCL or full container service.

For buyers who are shipping from various factories in the Ho Chi Minh region, our buyers consolidation service exists to collect the goods, store them in a warehouse and when there is sufficient for a full container load, stuff the container and arrange the export  clearance. The service gives the  benefit of saving on freight charges and having the security of only your goods in the container. If you are currently shipping LCL and are interested in this option then contact us to see if it would beneficial for you. The service is suitable for buyers who ship full containers from several different factories but want to ship more frequently. The buyers consolidation service means trucks can regularly call at the manufactures and pick up any goods ready and bring them to a central warehouse. Once there is sufficient for a container then it is loaded and shipped. This service can be beneficial for a buyer’s supply chain operations. If you need quality inspections to be made of the goods then we can arrange for them to be inspected once the have arrived at the storage warehouse. Quality inspections can be done to a buyer’s specification with photographs, written reports and where required even live video chat, allowing any potential production  issues to be dealt with immediately.

For very specialised cargoes including ones which require  geared vessels we can arrange both part and full ship charters, we have extensive contacts in the ship broking world and can usual find a vessel for any project cargo and port. Our consulting services are available to help clients plan how they are going to move the cargo, this includes covering the type of cranes required, trucks and site access. AJF has consulted on project shipments across the world and resolved many issues our clients have faced successfully.

It is always important to ensure who ever is packing your goods into shipping containers knows how to correctly stow them. We see many containers where the goods packaging has been damaged and in some cases the actual goods as well. Damage to the cartons is particularly important if they are going straight out to the end buyer. Nobody likes receiving boxes which are squashed, torn  or generally misshapen.


Often the issues we see could have been avoided with a little care. As seen in the photo below. The box on top of the other box probably was fine when initially packed in, but due to not being stacked directly on top of the other one and combined with being some space inside the box. As the container has move it resulted in the box settling and distorting. All because a little care was not taken when initially loaded.

Squashed Boxes

Poor stacking which causes boxes collapsed



Crush damage due too much weight being placed ontop of another box is further typically seen issue. Again what often happens is that boxs which can be stacked say 5 high in stable warehouse, when loaded into a container which then spends 4 weeks rocking back and forth while in transit, causes the bottom boxes to become squashed and in worst cases torn open. It is important to ensure that the cartons goods are shipped in are strong enough to be stacked the same in container as in a warehouse

One of the most common requests we receive is importing motorcycles such as Goldstars, and triumphs both restored and those to be restored and the ever  popular lambretta scooter. We have added a dedicated page to our site covering the main points of import a motorbike from India.


The easiest way to import is to use a dealer/supplier who has exported before. If you buy you motorcycle / scooter  on the terms FOB this had the advantage of the the shipper worrying about all the local India charges. They will arrange to crate the motorbike for shipment, ensure all the relevent export documentation is filed, and get it to the container loading terminal.  If you buy ex-works you will require us to arrange all this on your behalf and as it can be time-consuming the charge can be as much as what you would pay buying FOB.


If in doubt we are always happy to check for free if your supplier is correctly registered or if you are going to have to use an agent for the export documentation.


If you do not want to deal direct with the Indian supplier then you can deal with our product manager from BusinessLink India who will ensure your contract for the shipment is valid and it will get fulfilled.


Golden rule – No full payment up front. Cash Against Documents is the accepted way for any reputable dealer/supplier. Here you only pay for the goods once the shipping documents have been issued. Once this is done then you pay the money and release and they release the documents including if valid. If your supplier wants payment upfront then walk away. Once they have shown proof that they have the product available and they want a deposit, pay no more than 25%.


Duties and Taxes

If you are importing into the EU (which includes the UK) you will pay duty and VAT at your countries set level. If you


Importing into the USA is slightly different to Europe. A lot of motorbikes and scooters will not meet current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. Unlike in for example in the UK where this means you simply could not use it on public highways. In the USA you have to bring the bike up to current standards before clearance. If you cannot do this then the bike has to be re-exported or destroyed. Make sure you can do this before you buy a machine.


Additionally in the USA while there is no VAT tax you will have to pay duty on the invoice value of the bike and this can be up to 2.4%. Note if you cannot prove the purchase value or customs officials think it is undeclared they will use the “Blue Book” value to assess the duty due.


If you have any doubts contact your local customs office or email us with what you are planning to buy, where from you want to export the motorbike and where in the world you are going to import the motorbike.