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Almond Byte, September 2022

Transportation Update, USTR Trade Negotiator and Decree 248


Updates on transportation and Logistics, a new USTR Chief Negotiator and China's Decree 248 challenges in this month's Global Update from the Global Technical and Regulatory Affairs team at ABC.

Transportation/Logistics Update

The number of container ships headed for the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — a traffic jam that once symbolized American consumer vigor during the pandemic — declined to the lowest level since the bottleneck started to build two years ago. According to data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California & Vessel Traffic Service Los Angeles and Long Beach, eight vessels were in the official queue at the end of August. That’s an all-time low, officials said in a statement, down from a record of 109 set in January and about 40 lined up a year ago. As a result, LA port officials want ships that diverted around the congestion to return.

Long-term box freight rates continue to climb but are finally showing signs of coming under pressure. Data from the online platform Xeneta shows that long-term rates increased 4.1% in August, standing 121.2% higher than this time last year. Nevertheless, there are signs that new long-term contracted rates are actually starting to drop on key trading corridors. But given that they’re replacing expiring agreements with considerably lower rates, the average paid by all shippers is still climbing.

The Almond Alliance has worked with carriers and railroads in order to expand service options to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. CMA/CGM has announced the opening of weekly services to India and Asia via Union Pacific rail from the Oakland Ramp to the Port of Los Angeles. MSC is currently adding the Oakland Ramp as an export option in their online booking system. Evergreen has confirmed core services available via Oakland Ramp to Los Angeles and working towards LB. OOCL will rail direct to ship from Oakland to LA & LB or by truck to LA & LB. Services currently include China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, and Vietnam. All of these services are now available both by booking direct or through SCTC contracts. For more information please contact the Almond Alliance or Brock Densel at ABC,

USTR Chief Ag Negotiator Moving Forward

The Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to advance the nomination of Doug McKalip for chief agricultural negotiator at USTR. McKalip is currently serving as a senior advisor to the agriculture secretary and is a longtime agriculture department official. His confirmation hearing and following questions for the record had a major focus on market access in trade negotiations, particularly the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. McKalip pledged that he would push for market access, for IPEF’s trade pillar to be a core piece of the framework, and for trade to be “a much larger percentage of the results” than the other pillars. He now awaits a confirmation vote from the full Senate. Meanwhile, there has been no further movement on the nomination of Alexis Taylor for the Undersecretary for Trade position at USDA.

Update on China’s Decree 248

While most handlers were able to take advantage of the fast-track registration of their facilities and corresponding raw inshell and shelled almonds for shipment to China back in December 2021, China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) has become very slow in helping firms clear products that weren’t approved in the initial registrations. Please be advised that if you are shipping products that have not been approved under your GACC registration, you may experience long delays in clearing products stuck in Chinese ports even with assistance from US FDA and USDA offices in Beijing. If you need help confirming which products are already covered under your GACC account or need assistance registering additional products or with the initial registration of your facility with GACC, please contact