The Asia-U.S. route is the world's biggest shipping route, and it's becoming pricier by the minute. As shipping lines negotiated contracts in April, observers expected sharp increases. Members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, or TSA, a 13-line consortium, were advised to boost rates by $285 per 40-foot container. The TSA estimates volume between Asia and the U.S. will rise more than 10% this year, and that's on top of 2004's 14.4% rise.
With U.S. ports clogged, Canada is moving to make Vancouver the top entry point for Asian goods into North America. To that end, the Canadian Pacific Railway plans to expand its tracks in western Canada by 12%, to accommodate an additional 400 freight cars a day.
Meanwhile, back in the States, truckers' workday hours are a source of tension. Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.), whose district is home to Wal-Mart, recently tried to legislate 16-hour days for truckers (with an unpaid two-hour break), up from 14 hours with a three-hour break. Public safety groups and unions scuttled the plan, but Boozman vows to fight on.