The euro zone’s trade surplus widened in February from a year earlier on rising exports with imports unchanged, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday.
Exports from the 18 countries using the euro increased by 3 percent on the year after a 1 percent rise in January, while imports were flat when compared with a year earlier, data showed. The annual data are non-seasonally adjusted. Read more here.
(Pete Fehrenbach – IndustryWeek)
The American Chemistry Council and several related trade groups filed a federal lawsuit against Canadian Pacific over the rail carrier’s recent decision to require rail cars hauling certain chemicals to comply with new safety standards beginning this week, according to a report from KSTP.com in Minneapolis.
KSTP reports that Tom Schick, the ACC’s senior director of regulatory and technical affairs, said Canadian Pacific’s decision “blindsides the chemical industry and has ramifications for America’s public health, agriculture, pharmaceutical, construction, defense, and manufacturing sectors.”
In a statement, the chemical industry group calls the railroad’s decision “abitrary, unilateral and illegal” and says the chemicals involved are “essential to the economy and to national health” and that transporting them by rail is “extremely safe.” Read more here.
(Laurie Burkitt – Wall Street Journal)
Over the past three years, Chinese authorities have fined Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $9.8 million, sanctioning the retailer for using misleading pricing, selling poor-quality products and even peddling donkey meat that turned out to be fox.
Wal-Mart has increased testing and inspections. Food testers at Wal-Mart distribution centers in China check more than 600 products daily to catch flaws before the food is sent out to stores. After Wal-Mart found the fox meat labeled as donkey in January, the company said it would start testing its products’ DNA.
But Wal-Mart is also doing something rare for a Western company: Telling Chinese authorities they need to clean up their own act. Read more here.
The World Trade Organisation has raised its forecasts for global trade for 2014, but said it did not expect a return to historic highs until next year at the earliest.
The figures remain down on forecasts of a year ago, mainly because of the slow pace of European recovery, but the WTO said the situation there is starting to turn around.
After the weakness in growth at the start of this decade, with the hangover from the 2008 financial crisis dragging the figures down, 2014’s 4.5 percent projected growth has been raised by two tenths of a point, and the 5.3 percent trade growth forecast for 2015 is back to the record pre-crash high. Read more here.
(Suzie Chen – Taipei Economic and Cultural Office)
Taiwan is looking at potential multilateral co-operation agreements. In the Asia-Pacific area, we have a bilateral economic co-operation agreement with New Zealand and Singapore. The Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZs) launched in August last year further demonstrate our determination to transform into a free-trade island.
The government is trying to create more favourable trade conditions by seeking to join regional trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). These pacts will provide a level playing field for domestic businesses that compete in international markets. Read more here.
Top Japanese and Australian diplomats Friday reaffirmed a bilateral free trade agreement which the two sides reached earlier this week during a summit between leaders of the two countries.
During a meeting held here between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, the two foreign chiefs agreed to accelerate efforts to sign and ratify the bilateral free trade agreement and to improve bilateral security cooperation, Xinhua quoted the Japanese foreign ministry as saying. Read more here.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced additional sanctions Saturday in response to the escalating tensions in Ukraine, accusing Russia of “violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“We are imposing sanctions on two additional individuals and on a Crimean oil and gas company,” said a statement released by Baird.
“[We] will continue to work with allies and like-minded countries to apply pressure to Russia until it de-escalates the situation in Ukraine.” Read more here.
Pre-clearance, pre-inspection already exists at Peace Bridge in Fort Erie and at airports
The idea of a single mulitmillion-dollar customs plaza built on one side of the new international bridge that will connect Windsor, Ont., and Detroit has been floated and is getting support from border experts.
Two years ago, Canada and the U.S. agreed on a new crossing to be built over the Detroit River and paid for by Canada. However, Canada expected the U.S. to build its own $250-million customs plaza in Michigan.
While Canada has moved ahead on the project, building a $1.6-billion, four-lane highway leading up to the site of the proposed bridge and acquiring land in Michigan, the U.S. has yet to announce funding for a plaza. Read more here.
China plans to ban imports of coal with high ash and high sulfur content as the nation seeks to limit the dirtiest fuels to fight pollution.
Mr Ren Lixin head of the coal division at the National Energy Administration said that “The world’s largest coal consumer will encourage imports of higher quality supplies. Domestic demand for the fuel may rise slightly this year and imports are expected to be similar to 2013 levels. Read more here.
Bruce Heyman, the newly minted U.S. ambassador to Canada, says we cannot let one issue dominate the relationship between the two countries.
And by one issue, he means Keystone XL, the pipeline to carry Canadian oil to refineries and markets in the U.S. that has been making its way through various stages of approval in the U.S. for more than four years, without a decision being made.
Since assuming his duties as U.S. ambassador on Tuesday, Heyman, who takes up the post nine months after his predecessor David Jacobson saw the end of his term, has been asked repeatedly about Keystone. Read more here.
(Grace M. Lavigne – JOC)
Hapag-Lloyd plans to implement two low-water surcharges at the Port of Montreal, although port officials are questioning why, as they expect the spring thaw to begin soon.
Effective April 30, Hapag-Lloyd says it will implement a low-water surcharge on shipments between the Port of Montreal and North Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa. Starting May 8, the German container line also hopes to implement a low-water surcharge on trade between Montreal and East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. In both cases, the surcharge will be $200 per 20-foot container and $250 per 40-foot container.
Sophie Roux, communications director at the Port of Montreal, told the JOC that Hapag-Lloyd’s surcharges are “not fitting reality” given the extensive amount of snow that Montreal saw this past winter. Although the snow has just begun melting, according to Roux, she said water levels this year could be similar to those seen in 2011, which were “quite high.” Read more here.
China has filed an appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against a U.S. tariff act amendment, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announced on Wednesday.
The appeal filed Tuesday in Geneva seeks to overthrow a ruling in a WTO panel that the United States’ 2012 GPX Act was consistent with WTO rules. The act retroactively ratified U.S. anti-subsidy measures on non-market economy countries. Read more here.
(STR Trade Report)
The Senate Finance Committee’s new chairman laid out in an April 9 speech before the American Apparel & Footwear Association his vision for U.S. trade policy in the 21st century. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who took the reins of the powerful trade oversight committee earlier this spring after the departure of Max Baucus, said his view is that “every single trade discussion must now focus on how trade policy can be a springboard to high-skill, high-wage American jobs.” Wyden’s focus is an implicit response to accusations from some corners that U.S. trade policy, and the free trade agreements the U.S. has negotiated over the past decade or so in particular, have resulted in the loss of manufacturing and other jobs to foreign competitors, primarily benefited U.S. corporations and worsened the U.S. trade deficit.
Wyden said his philosophy on trade is for “Americans [to] grow and make things here, innovate and add value to them here, and ship them somewhere, whether in containers, on airplanes, or in electronic bits and bytes.” Toward that end, he said, trade policy should contribute to the creation of “jobs in innovative fields that didn’t exist before the digital era, … jobs in high-tech manufacturing that can’t be easily outsourced, [and] … jobs that give Americans a ladder into the middle class.” Read more here.
All federal departments using software vulnerable to the so-called Heartbleed bug have been ordered to immediately disable public websites.
The directive issued late Thursday calls this a precautionary measure until the “appropriate security patches are in place and tested” but did not indicate how many departments are involved.
The government’s Chief Information Officer says in a statement issued through the Treasury Board that while disruptive, “this is the best course of action to protect the privacy of Canadians.” The statement adds that until measures are applied, “Canadians will be unable to access certain Government of Canada websites.” Treasury Board President Tony Clement confirmed the directive in a tweet early Friday morning. Read more here.
Related: Feds Shutter More Websites on Heartbleed Concerns (CTV News)
(Ricardo Lopez – LA Times)
The L.A. 2020 Commission’s recommendation that the twin ports should work together gets a cool reception from Long Beach officials.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are like the Coke and Pepsi of U.S. maritime transportation.
They seem similar, they dominate the competition but they have a long history of less-than-friendly rivalry. Now, an independent commission’s proposal to merge the neighboring harbors is being met with skepticism.
The L.A. 2020 Commission, made up of prominent business, labor and civic leaders, on Wednesday unveiled a series of recommendations that included merging the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Read more here.
Canadian National Railway, the country’s biggest railroad, this week will reach the minimum weekly grain volume ordered by the government, easing a massive crop jam, chief executive Claude Mongeau said.
Mongeau, speaking to reporters after addressing a business audience in Winnipeg, said the company would move 500,000 tonnes of grain this week as required by a government order, reported Reuters.
The order also requires rival Canadian Pacific Railway to move 500,000 tonnes this week. Read more here.
(Kwanwoo Jun – WSJ)
The U.S. Trade Representative has put South Korea’s small-business advocacy group on a watch list for possibly breaching the U.S.-Korea free trade pact with non-tariff barriers against U.S. businesses.
While the issue is unlikely to flare into a full-scale trade dispute, it highlights lingering friction two years after the deal came into effect.
The annual USTR report on foreign trade barriers, released on March 31, said South Korea’s National Commission for Corporate Partnership and its activities restricted “some U.S.-owned restaurant chains” operating in the Asian country last year. Read more here.
(IndustryWeek – AFP)
Mexico’s booming auto industry has reached a major milestone, claiming to have overtaken Japan as the second biggest car exporter to the United States in the past three months.
The Latin American nation now only trails Canada, but experts say Mexico could become the top exporter to its northern neighbor as soon as 2015, a potent symbol of its growing global clout in the sector.
Industry analysts had expected Mexico to surpass Japan by the end of the year, but the Mexican Automobile Industry Association (AMIA) says it has happened faster than expected. Read more here.
A group of senators seeking to protect jobs is calling on President Barack Obama’s administration to fully enforce trade laws in deciding whether imported steel reinforcing bar from Turkey and Mexico unfairly undercuts U.S. prices.
In a letter sent Wednesday, the senators urged the Department of Commerce to consider the impact of cheaper imports on U.S. steel companies when it issues preliminary rulings later this month. Companies in Mexico and Turkey could be subject to duties on the steel reinforcing bar, which is known as steel rebar and is used to reinforce concrete, if found in violation. Read more here.