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January 2 2023

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34 Journal of Commerce | January 2, 2023 Maritime bought axles and landing gear legs from China, built the chassis in Viet- nam, and transported the finished units to the US labeled as "Made in Vietnam." US Customs and Border Protection found a "reasonable suspicion" that Pitts evaded duties based on an inspection conducted in September, but the greater implica- tions of this finding on the US chassis fleet remained unclear as 2022 came to a close. If, for example, the CBP investigation lasts well into 2023, it could throw off the timeline for delivery of marine chassis purchased from Pitts subsidiary Dorsey Inter- modal, customers of which include the South Carolina Ports Authority (SC Ports). Unless other manufactur- ers can pick up the slack, this would delay launch of SC Ports' new chassis pool and, potentially, the return of supply–demand equilibrium in the US chassis market. A new normal: There is still hope that as Americans resume more "nor- mal" consumer spending patterns, restoring the pre-pandemic balance between dollars spent on goods and those spent on services such as restau- rants and entertainment, freight vol- umes will ease enough to bring down chassis street dwell times, thereby increasing the number of containers a given unit can move. That would go a long way toward restoring balance and flow in inland US supply chains, even without a significant injection of new equipment. JOC email: twitter: @arijashe well short of their 2022 production targets. A look ahead: Cargo owners, chassis lessors, and Class I US railroads say they expect an injection of new equipment supplies and slowing import demand to bring much- needed fluidity to inland intermodal rail terminals in the first half of 2023. That, in turn, should have a positive effect on congestion all the way back to the ports. There are potential road- blocks, however, to adding enough new marine chassis to satisfy demand this year, including an ongoing dis- pute between competing US chassis manufacturers CIE Manufacturing and Pitts Enterprises. CIE, formerly known as China Intermodal Marine Containers (CIMC), alleges that Pitts evaded antidumping and counter- vailing duties on chassis produced in China when a Pitts subcontractor A look back: With already scarce chassis being kept out on the street for far longer than was typical prior to the COVID-19 pandemic due to a deluge of imports that quickly filled warehouses to capacity, backlogs of containers accumulated at busy intermodal rail terminals in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis, and the Ohio Valley. This left many importers with only bad options; they could leave their cargo where it landed, clogging up marine terminals and rail ramps, or park those contain- ers at their distribution centers until enough room became available to unload them, tying up the chassis under each box. Amid this height- ened demand for marine chassis, shortages of labor and critical sub- components such as axles, harnesses, and suspension systems hampered the production of new units by US manufacturers, most of which fell In search of stability Marine chassis supply–demand balance expected to improve in 2023 By Ari Ashe The big picture: A shortage of available marine chassis caused congestion in US supply chains for the second consecutive year in 2022, especially at inland rail ramps, but importers are optimistic that equipment supply will be better aligned with demand in 2023. While marine chassis were hard to come by during 2022, stakeholders believe they've nearly caught up with demand. Ari Ashe ANNUAL REVIEW & OUTLOOK 2023

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