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    Category Archives: Global News

    Biggest Export Markets by Country

    The Bank of America Merrill Lynch published this insightful world map which displays each country’s largest export market.  The map does not cover exported services, but exported commodities and produced goods.


    The trends in world trade are clear from the colour coding of each classification of export commodity.  It is not surprising that most of the Middle East and North Africa are shaded dark blue for exporting oil.  From just a glance at the map it would seem that a huge part of the world relies on oil for exports, and highlights the affects that volatility in this market has on the world.

    It is not surprising either that countries in South East Asia, the USA and China export electronic goods, whilst Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal all trade heavily in textiles and apparel.  However, India’s largest export market is precious stones, and not what you might expect of exporting mostly textiles or food and drink.  Also, Afghanistan’s largest export is opium!

    As to be expected, the majority of Europe’s biggest export market is machinery and transportation.  Whilst the UK exports ‘manufactured goods’ – classified as machinery and transportation – most likely referring to the engineering equipment and machinery that the UK manufactures and exports.

    Mercator is a UK based freight forwarder.  We arrange shipping across the globe for all industries.  Our services cover both UK imports and exports.  Thanks to our founding membership of the global freight network MPL, we have partner agents located around the world, allowing us to offer a full import and export service.  For a quote please call: +44 2392 756 575 or email


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      UK Ports Announce Measures to Help UK Exporters Comply with the New VGM Regulations

      The new SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations will require all sea freight cargo to be weighed prior to shipping.  The weight will need to be verified, so it will require specialist equipment either at loading or at the ports.  The new VGM (verified gross mass) regulations will come into force as of the 1st July 2016 and are applicable worldwide.

      There has been some concern about how freight forwarders will be able to implement the new changes, how it might affect the costs of services and there have particularly been worries about the availability of the services required in order to verify the gross weight of UK export cargo.  Lack of a verified weight of the shipping container will mean that the goods cannot be shipped.

      In the last few weeks, three of the major UK sea freight ports have come forward with help to assist shippers to comply with the VGM regulations.  The Port of Felixstowe, DP World London Gateway and Southampton have all announced that they will be offering weighing services for UK exporters.  The shipping containers will be weighed shortly after arrival at the port, and the weights will assist the ship planners to stow the cargo on the shipping vessels in an efficient and safe manner.

      Mercator is a freight forwarder in the UK who exports goods from the UK on a daily basis.  We have direct connections and accounts with Port of Felixstowe and the two DP World Container Terminals at Southampton and London Gateway.  If you are currently exporting from the UK and are concerned about the new VGM regulations and how it may affect you, then get in contact.  Our freight forwarding services cover all aspects of shipping, from UK pick up (and packing), drop off at UK ports, ocean freight, local customs and to delivery at your destination.

      To discuss your UK export requirements, give us a call: +44 2392 756 575 or email


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        The Panama Canal Expansion 2016

        The Panama Canal was originally constructed in the early 1900s.  It was built to offer a connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, particularly for international trade so that vessels did not need to tackle the long and treacherous route of Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.

        Today container ships are on a different scale to those in operation when the Panama Canal was originally constructed.  As such, a huge project (first started up in 2007) is underway to expand the capacity of the Panama Canal.  Vessels which use the Panama Canal are called Panamax, and generally are under 5000 TEU (20’ shipping container equivalent).  Currently only about 30% of sea freight transits are made by ‘Panamax vessels’.  The current largest vessels (or megaships) are around 18,000 TEU.  The expansion will accommodate 14,000 TEU capacity container ships.

        Due to an increase demand for the connection of the West Coast of the USA and the West Coast of South America, larger container ships will be utilised to use the Panama Canal to connect this area to the rest of the world.

        It is thought that the expansion project will be complete by April 2016.  Once complete we expect for the shipping carriers to create new routes and callings for their container ships.

        If you have an export from the UK to go to Chile or Los Angeles, or even an import from Peru or San Francisco, then Mercator can handle the process for you.  The Panama Canal is still in use whilst expansion occurs.  Mercator has over 20 years’ of import and export experience, partner agents in most countries and contacts with sea freight carriers.  Appointing us to handle your shipping tasks could take a weight off your mind.  Get in contact with us by calling: +44 2392 756 575 or email


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          APL Vanda Runs Aground on way to Southampton Port

          The huge vessel APL Vanda ran aground on Saturday night (13th February 2016) in the same area as the Hoegh Osaka fell into trouble this time last year.

          The 14,000 TEU container ship (TEU = 20’ shipping container equivalent – twice the size of the Hoegh Osaka) measuring over 350 meters in length was reported to have a power failure as it passed the Isle of Wight.  After running aground (reported to be deliberately) tug boats were dispatched whilst the tide was coming in, and they were able to free the container vessel.  The high tides allowed it to safely transit onwards to DP World Southampton port.

          apl vanda

          The Hoegh Osaka which ran aground in the same location last year began to list which made it extremely difficult to right and bring back safely into port.  Much of the RORO cargo on the Hoegh Osaka was damaged due to the listing (hence it is always a good idea to have freight insurance on your shipment to protect your investment whilst it is on the seas).

          The APL Vanda came off lightly, as if it began to list, shipping containers could have started falling off of the vessel which would have caused huge problems for other vessels scheduled to use the shipping lane and customers who had cargo on board.

          The APL Vanda had previously called at Beilun in China and was on its way from calling at Le Harve in France.  The container ship arrived into Southampton Port on Sunday and is currently on quay unloading UK imports from China.

          Mercator can arrange all aspects of your import shipment including freight, customs clearance, payments to HMRC for release and onward delivery to your door.  If you have an import shipment for the UK, then get in touch: or call us +44 2392 756 575.

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            Freight Forwarder News – Peak Shipping Season 2015

            What is Peak Shipping Season (PSS)?

            Peak Season is a term used within the shipping and Forwarding community to describe the increase in volume of both air and sea traffic leading up to Christmas.  The term is being classed as outdated by many within the Industry due to the historical decline in volumes over the last few years, this pattern seems to be repeated for the 2015 shipping season.


            When is Peak Shipping Season?

            Peak Season traditionally runs from June/July to October/November in the run up to Christmas.  Most trade lanes for the peak season tend not to be longer than about 3 weeks, so shipping in October/November time for an import to the UK should still give enough time for clearance and delivery of your goods in time for Christmas.


            What are the Cost Implications for Shipping During Peak Season?

            The additional cost of PSS for ocean freight ranges from around $150-$250 per 20 foot shipping container, and about double for 40 foot shipping container.  For air freight it is hard to give a cost as it depends on how much pressure is put on the space capacity to and from a particular area – it is a case of supply and demand.


            What are the other implications?

            Other implications can be less capacity on shipping routes from the Far East and China to Europe and the UK.  Which can mean delays in shipping, and can lead to the fall down of JIT (Just in Time) Logistics, meaning supply chains can slow down so it is best to work ahead of schedule in case there are delays as shipping in this season is time sensitive.


            Is it happening in 2015?

            At Mercator Cargo we have yet to see the implementation of the usual Peak Season Surcharge by the air carriers and shipping lines, simply due to the fact that the demand is not there.  If anything rates have remained extremely static for the whole of 2015 and a rise for Peak Shipping Season seems extremely unlikely.  Volumes from China and the Far East to Europe and the UK remain very low, with plenty of capacity on both shipping lines and aircraft available.


            What should you do?

            Be prepared to ship your goods early if possible in order to avoid space problems or increased charges during the Peak Shipping Season.  If your goods won’t be ready early enough, but you have secured the order and have an estimated date they will be ready, then book your space on the vessel or aircraft as soon as you can.  Booking early will also minimise the problems with space and additional shipping charges.  If you have a product which you simply cannot wait to arrive in the UK, then you may wish to consider air freight for part of your shipment.

            If you’d like to discuss the Peak Shipping Season with one of our freight forwarders, then get in touch +44 2392 756 575 or email

            Get a Quote for Peak Shipping Season

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              A Few Random and Interesting Shipping Facts

              Here are a few interesting facts about shipping and international trade:

              – The distance a typical container ship covers in a year whilst navigating the oceans is the equivalent of three-quarters of the way to the moon and back.

              – The shipping industry accounts for 2% of the UK’s GDP, which is greater than the total GDP of restaurants, takeaways and civil engineering.

              – Sea freight is greener than shipping via a plane or by haulage: a container shipped via sea from Shanghai to La Havre emits less greenhouse gases than the truck taking the container on its onward journey to Lyon.

              – On average almost 90% of all goods bought around the world has arrived by ship.

              – There are over 55,000 container and transporting shipping vessels trading internationally.

              – This huge fleet requires 1.5 million staff to man it.

              – Container ships engines are 1000 times more powerful than an average car.

              – The largest container ships can cost up to £120 million pounds to build.

              Mercator Cargo is a UK based freight forwarder. We arrange shipping for our customers to and from a variety of countries around the world via sea and air freight. If you’re looking for a reliable freight forwarder to handle your shipments, give us a call to discuss the requirements of your business – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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                Shipping Containers to be used as Low-Cost Housing for the Homeless

                Brighton Housing Trust has launched an innovative project to house the homeless in the city.  The project involves using converted shipping containers as self-contained ‘apartments’.  This week, the project’s wheels began to move with the first six shipping containers being installed in Brighton.

                The shipping container units were converted in Holland for a similar social housing project in Amsterdam.  Unfortunately the project in Holland failed due to lack of funding.  The shipping container units will be stacked on top of each other in 3 and 5 storey formations; a total of 36 will provide temporary accommodation to the homeless.

                Shipping containers are an excellent solution to low-cost housing.  Shipping containers are engineered to be stacked on top of each other when in transit on shipping vessels, so it is possible to create multi-storey shipping container blocks of studios/flats.  There is no building required when using shipping containers as housing as the structure already exists, just internal work is required to convert the units.  The shipping container units can be placed on temporary sites and moved at a later date (shipping containers are designed to be moved around).

                Shipping containers have been also used to create quirky and trendy housing (as below).  Eco-friendly and angular housing is being more popular and the use of a shipping container fits this perfectly.  Using shipping containers as housing also fits the popular concept of ‘up-cycling’ or ‘make do and mend’.

                Shipping-Container-Guest-House- (640x427)

                Mercator Cargo can arrange for your shipping container (whether for a housing project, or full of goods as an import or export) to go anywhere in the world. We can also assit in sourcing used containers. Contact us for more information – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:

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                Freight Forwarding News – Zim Rotterdam Stops at London Gateway

                The shipping vessel Zim Rotterdam, made a stop at London Gateway last week. The vessel holds over 10,000 TEU (the equivalent of 20 foot shipping containers) and is said to be the largest ship to enter the River Thames. Situated on the north bank of the Thames, the UK’s new sea freight port isn’t meant to officially open until later this year.

                The shipping vessel was on its transit from Asia, and was heading to Felixstowe. A fire on board prompted the unexpected stop at the new London sea freight port for repairs and to discharge its shipping container loads.

                When the sea port London Gateway opens in November, it is predicted that the terminal will handle over 3.5 million TEU per year. This is almost on par with Felixstowe port, which handled 3.7 million TEU in 2012, which accounts for almost 40% of all container traffic in the UK.

                London Gateway is expected to become a popular calling sea freight port for many shipping vessels for the UK because of its proximity to one of Europe’s largest logistics parks. Container traffic will be able to travel to here where there are options for warehousing, distribution and assembly, along with onward transit options (including sea, air and road freight). This idea aims to reduce unnecessary mileage of empty containers and reduce costs for distributors.

                Mercator will be offering services into and out of London Gateway once the sea port has officially opened. We can arrange full sea freight options, or arrange for your cargo to travel to the port, or arrange for customs clearance and delivery via road or rail to you in the UK.

                Call Mercator Cargo if you are looking for an experienced freight forwarder to handle your UK import or export via sea freight – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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                  Freight Forwarding – How Shipping Containers have Changed the Freight Forwarding Industry

                  Shipping containers have been used since the 1950s when they were invented by an American trucking businessman.  Since then, freight forwarders, importers and exporters have used shipping containers for the transit of all kinds of goods.

                  Prior to freight forwarders using 40 foot or 20 foot containers, ships hulls were loaded manually by dock workers, box by box, piece by piece.  This is a time consuming job, and sometimes these big shipping liners spent more time at the docks than they did at sea.

                  Now, using shipping containers, freight forwarders can get their cargo off the shipping liners within hours, rather than weeks.  Their uniformed sizes mean that they can be easily transferred from ship to dockside, to truck, to train, and so on.

                  These rather simple developments in freight forwarding have dramatically decreased costs involved in importing and exporting goods.

                  If you have a full container load, or even a less than container load, of cargo to be exported or imported, then get in touch today to discuss our freight forwarding services available – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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                    Freight Forwarding News – Export Week 2013

                    This week sees the UK’s ‘Export Week’; a government launched series of events around the UK to promote exporting to small businesses.

                    The aim of ‘Export Week’ is to increase the number of small businesses that currently export.  The national target set by the government is for 100,000 more businesses exporting over the next 5 years.

                    This would increase the number of UK manufacturers that export from 20% to 25%, and add to the UK economy an estimated £36 billion.

                    UK businesses can see an increase in up to 34% of productivity when they start exporting, so if you have the opportunity to export – it’s a no-brainer!

                    Small businesses might be daunted by the prospect of exporting from the UK, however, it is becoming increasingly more evident that smaller businesses can also win international business.

                    Of course, larger firms may already have trained staff in exporting their goods, and may even have dedicated staff for this purpose.

                    Smaller firms need not fear; this is where a freight forwarder can step in.  By appointing a freight forwarder to handle their export shipment, the whole process can be taken care of.  By appointing an experienced freight forwarder (such as Mercator Cargo) the weight can be lifted off your shoulders and you can be safe in the knowledge that your cargo is in expert hands.

                    Mercator Cargo is an independent freight forwarder who prides itself on offering a personal service.  With a team of experienced freight forwarders at hand, we can offer a “hand holding” service if needs be, and can offer advice at every step along the way.

                    So if you’re considering exporting your goods from the UK, give Mercator Cargo a call today to discuss your export shipment – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


                    Request a Quote for Export Shipping from the UK

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