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US temporarily suspends Mediterranean Shipping Company’s preferred customs status after drugs seizure

US Customs and Border Protection has temporarily suspended Mediterranean Shipping Company’s Customs Trade Partnership (C-TPAT) certification, following the recent seizure of up to 17.5 mt of cocaine from one of its vessels at the port of Philadelphia, the agency said in a statement Friday.

The move means the US authorities for the time being will not assess the carrier as “low-risk,” so more scrutiny of its shipments can be expected in the coming days and weeks.

“MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company is aware of reports of an incident at the Port of Philadelphia in which US authorities made a seizure of illicit cargo. MSC takes this matter very seriously and is grateful to the authorities for identifying any suspected abuse of its services,” the company said in a statement last week.

It added in an email sent to customers late in the week that they should “expect minimal disruption as a result of the C-TPAT certification issue.”

The drugs bust was made on board the 2018-built MSC Gayane, a 9,962 TEU vessel that had travelled from South America to Philadelphia, via Chile, Peru and the Panama Canal, according to data from S&P Global Platts trade flow software cflow.

The temporary suspension comes at a time of some underlying weakness in the transpacific container market, especially into the US, following the recent escalation in the country’s trade dispute with China, which has limited fresh cargo inquiries to the market.

Platts Container Rate 13 North Asia to West Coast North America was assessed at $1,275/FEU Friday, the lowest level since March 29. With summer demand not expected to be as strong as earlier thought owing to the tariffs, market sources said there could be further downside to the market in the coming weeks.
Source: Platts

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