If you export from US to China or anywhere else in the world for that matter, you probably have little time to catch your breath, let alone read another article. With that in mind, we created a quick Top 7 checklist of what to keep in mind, where to focus and what to do in 2022 to keep your containerized exports moving.

export us to china
  1. Realize and accept that current market conditions are not going to get better anytime soon…

So, strap in and buckle up. 2022 is going to look a lot like 2021.

  1. Be a Shipper of Choice

This term was frequently used back in 2018, when the trucking ELD mandate was rolled out. At that time, the focus was on domestic trucking, but the term and concept are still relevant for almost any mode of transportation and, especially now, with export ocean carriers. The essence of the concept is to ensure their freight moves efficiently and timely, shippers must proactively work with their carrier partners to be flexible with their shipping and receiving times, communicating changes, and advising any cancellations in advance, and most importantly providing future forecasts that will enable their partners to plan better.

  1. Flexibility and Non-traditional routings

Flexibility is especially critical right now. Whether that mean loading dates, shipment routing or reducing the number of days of free time at origin or destination - anything that can return containers quicker. It's never been like this before for US exporters - it's no longer about finding the lowest rate anymore; in fact, it's becoming even less about the rate. Now, it is all about capacity. Export shippers are realizing if they are to move cargo in this environment, they will not be competing for the best rates but really competing for space and equipment. Being open to non-traditional routings such as routing your export containers from California to Europe and the Middle East via rail to ship by vessel from Houston port may open more booking options that will ultimately keep your shipments moving.

  1. Allocations / Advance bookings

For exporters with regular repeat business and who can forecast their export booking requirements in advance, there is an opportunity to engage with ocean carriers about allocations. We are seeing ocean carrier appetites to provide eligible shippers with regular weekly allocations grow and grow. Securing committed allocations can be a huge win for exporters because bookings are significantly easier to obtain when an allocation is already fixed for an exporter. Once established that allocation security provides an exporter the ability to plan with the assurance that their cargo will move.

  1. Forecasts 

In the past, an exporter could make a call and make a booking with a cut-off the following week. In that type of environment, it wasn't necessary to provide a forecast because both equipment and the vessel space were generally readily available. In today's environment the importance of forecasts cannot be overstated.  Providing forecasts enables your forwarder to make advanced bookings with carriers and helps the exporter to plan their supply chain by knowing what bookings are available.

  1. Street turns

To help find and secure container equipment, work with your logistics partners (freight forwarder and truckers) to identify import containers in locations where you are loading your exports. With today’s equipment challenges and carriers prioritizing sending empties back to Asia, if you can secure that empty before it returns to the terminal headed to Asia as an empty, the odds of moving that export cargo vastly improve. Have a conversation with your forwarder and look for opportunities where you can participate in a street turn program.

  1. Continued constraints on trucking and chassis availability.        

Due to the continued historic surge of import shipments, US exporters still struggle to secure both trucking power and chassis.  Delays are especially significant at USWC ports. Since container import free time is typically less than allowed for exports, these loads are typically prioritized over export loads. Additionally, we are seeing truckers prioritize shipments for “shippers of choice” - those who make their loads easier, faster and pay a higher rate.

Whether you choose to implement a few of these suggestions or all of them, we encourage the following:

  • Forecast - Provide advanced forecast information to your supply chain partners to secure and ensure tricking capacity and ocean equipment so that it is available when you need it.,
  • Book - Book in advance - Schedule loads at least 2 weeks in advance whenever possible
  • Partner - Schedule time to collaborate with your current logistics provider to understand the current market constraints and develop a plan together to overcome these challenges.


To see how we can help with your export challenges, or for any questions, contact Marc Van Gorp, National Export Business Development Manager, or contact your local sales representative.