Port Metro Vancouver says the disruption to its operations from a strike Monday by up to 400 container truck drivers and the non-unionized drivers who have joined them is having a dramatic effect on the ability of terminal operators to move goods.
“Goods are not moving and that is bad news for consumers and businesses,” said Port Metro Vancouver president Robin Silvester.
Picket lines went up at nine separate locations around Metro Vancouver Monday, including the main port of Vancouver and Deltaport as well as at several trucking companies that carry containers to and from the port. Read more here.
Sticking points remain in an attempt by WTO members to eliminate duties on billions of dollars of technology products, the head of the global body said on Monday.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said it was hard to tell whether talks could be wrapped up by the time of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in China in mid-May.
The US, China, the EU and nearly two dozen other countries are negotiating an expansion of the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement, a 16-year-old pact that eliminated duties on a long list of technology products including personal computers, laptops and telephones. Read more here.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper took on critics from the Canadian auto sector Tuesday, defending a trade agreement with South Korea — the first trade deal Canada has reached in Asia.
The free trade agreement will, along with dropping other barriers, phase out Canadian tariffs on imports of South Korean cars over three years.
Under the agreement, Canada’s 6.1 per cent tariff on imports of South Korean passenger cars would be phased out in three annual cuts — with the first cut coming as soon as the agreement comes into force. Read more here.
(Supply Chain Digest)
Major East Coast ports are continuing with varying degrees of success or rather speed to upgrade their capabilities to handle larger ships and process more containers.
The size of ships generally has of course been on the rise for a number of years. But East Coast ports were give a real wakeup call when the planned expansion of the Panama Canal was announced in 2006, a move that will allow much larger ships through the Canal, most of them headed to the U.S. East Coast.
Most of those ports at the time would not have been able to handle many of the larger ships. Read more here.
(James Cudmore – CBC News)
Harper government wants increased Canadian access to agriculture markets, as critics worry about auto industry
It’s no secret that when Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with South Korean president Park Geun-hye on Tuesday it will be to sign a free trade deal.
It will be Canada’s first free trade deal in East Asia and one that could be a kind of template for deals with other Asian partners.
The Harper government wants to increase Canadian access to South Korean markets. A free trade deal would do that by eliminating tariffs and other differential treatment for Canadian goods. Read more here.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has arrived in Seoul, where he is widely expected to announce a free-trade deal with South Korea.
A South Korean delegation greeted Harper on Monday as he stepped off his aircraft after a 20-plus hour trip from Ottawa.
There’s no word yet on whether Harper plans to sign the final text of a free-trade deal with South Korea or is simply going to announce an agreement-in-principle in a staged photo-op. Read more here.
(Josh Hicks – Washington Post)
The Senate on Thursday voted by unanimous consent to confirm U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske as the next head of Customs and Border Protection.
Kerlikowske has an extensive background in law enforcement. Besides serving as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy since 2009, he was Seattle’s police chief for more than eight years. He also led police departments in Buffalo, Fort Pierce, Fla. and Port St. Lucie, Fla., in addition to working for two years as deputy director of the Justice Department’s community-oriented policing division during the Clinton administration.
With the Senate action on Thursday, Kerlikowske is set to become the first permanent CBP chief since 2011, when former commissioner Alan Bersin, a recess appointee, stepped down. He is also the first Senate-confirmed commissioner since 2009, the last year of W. Ralph Basham’s tenure in the position. Read more here.
With imports increasing by slightly more than exports, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing that the U.S. trade deficit edged wider in the month of January.
The report showed that the trade deficit widened to $39.1 billion in January from a revised $39.0 billion in December. Economists had been expecting the deficit to widen to $39.0 billion from the $38.7 billion originally reported for the previous month. Read more here.
Canada’s merchandise imports declined 1.6% while exports edged up 0.2% in January. As a result, Canada’s trade deficit with the world narrowed from $922 million in December to $177 million in January.
Imports declined to $40.8 billion as volumes were down 2.6% while prices were up 1.0%. The main contributors to the overall decline in imports were motor vehicles and parts as well as energy products.
Exports edged up to $40.6 billion, as an increase in energy products was mostly offset by decreases in motor vehicles and parts as well as metal ores and non-metallic minerals. Overall, prices were up 5.8% while volumes were down 5.3%. Read more here.
(Transport Canada & Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today concrete measures being taken by the Harper Government to move more grain through the transportation system and maintain Canada’s reputation as a supplier to world markets.
Minister Raitt announced an Order in Council (OIC) to take immediate effect, setting out minimum volumes of grain that Canadian National Railway Company and Canadian Pacific Railway Company are each required to move. The Order, under section 47(1) of the Canada Transportation Act, also requires the railways to report to the Minister of Transport on weekly shipments.
The railways will be required to increase the volumes carried each week, over a period of four weeks, to a combined target of 1,000,000 metric tonnes per week – more than doubling the volume currently being moved.
The Order creates direct legal obligations on railways and will result in penalties for non-compliance of up to $100,000 per day.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced that the Government will introduce legislation when Parliament returns to establish measures to ensure Canada maintains a world-class logistics system that gets agricultural products to market more efficiently.
The Government continues to call on all parties in the grain supply chain to play constructive roles to ensure the timely movement of grain, and to continue working together on medium and long-term solutions.
(Mike King – JOC)
China’s target of 7.5% GDP growth in 2014, although lower than in 2013, will still be a spur to shipping demand in the coming months, according to one shipping analyst.
Premier Li Keqiang announced the target, which would represent a slowdown from the 7.7% growth achieved in 2013, in an annual work report, the Chinese equivalent of the United States’ State of the Union Address.
Li Keqiang also said the government is aiming to increase trade 7.5% this year, down from the 8% target of 2013 and the actual 7.6% achieved in 2012, when the target was 10%. Read more here (subscription required).
Western Canada’s grain train backlog is hurting the industry’s Canadian customers too with some millers forced to close due to a lack of supply, the president of the Canadian National Millers Association (CNMA) says.
“Prolonged interruptions of up to three to four weeks in wheat and oat delivery by rail to mills have literally forced some mill locations in Canada to cease production,” Gordon Harrison said in an email Feb. 20. “This represents lost running time, lost business for producers and processors, lost wages to employees and potentially lost customers. The economic harm is mounting daily and is potentially irreparable.”
Canadian millers are heavily dependent on western Canadian grains. Read more here.
The dynamic imbalance in trade negotiations is clearly evident in the case of trade negotiations of Canada and the US with the European Union, and what happens with EU/Mercosur trade talks that have been going for seventeen years, with no clear results yet, according to OAS Secretary General Miguel Insulza.
“The clearest example we have of this dynamic imbalance in the case of trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union, and between the United States and the European Union, which have been much more significant than those between Mercosur and the European Union, that have been being negotiated since 17 years ago” pointed out Insulza during a debate sponsored by John Hopkins University on the Atlantic Basin Initiative. Read more here.
(CBC News | CityTV)
Unionized container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver have voted to reject a tentative deal drawn up Thursday by veteran labour mediator Vince Ready, and are set to go on strike Monday.
Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director of the Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association’s, said 98% of the more than 300 unionized members voted to reject the tentative return-to-work agreement.
“The immediate economics of the situation for our members is just intolerable. That’s why they gave us the result they did today,” he said. Read more here.
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FedEx Corp said on Monday it will raise shipping rates at its freight business by 3.9 percent, effective March 31.
The rate increase is for FedEx Freight shipments within the United States including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Canada and within Mexico.
The world’s second biggest parcel delivery company after United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N), FedEx had last year raised rates by 3.9 percent for its domestic express shipping unit, effective Jan 6. Read more here.
Imports of high-tech steel from China are unfairly subsidized by the Chinese government, U.S. trade officials said in a preliminary ruling on Wednesday, potentially escalating a spat over trade of the specialty steel product.
The U.S. Commerce Department estimated a subsidy rate of 49.15% on imports of grain-oriented electrical steel from Baoshan Iron & Steel Co and other Chinese exporters.
In January, the United States took action at the World Trade Organization, complaining that China used tariffs to effectively block imports of U.S. steel despite a WTO ruling in the United States’ favor. It is used in the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators. Read more here.
Economic growth in the emerging markets weakened further in February as an improvement in service sector activity was more than offset by a slowdown in the manufacturing sector, survey data published by Markit Economics and HSBC Bank revealed Thursday.
The Emerging Markets Index, which gauges business activity across emerging market economies, dropped to 51.1 in February from 51.4 in January, marking the third successive decline. However, the index stayed above the no-change 50 mark, which separates growth from contraction. The slowdown reflected a weaker growth in manufacturing activity, which offset an uptick in services growth. Read more here.
U.S. businesses added jobs at a very modest pace last month as factories added few new employees, according to a survey of private-sector hiring released Wednesday.
Private sector payrolls in the U.S. increased by 139,000 new jobs in February, says the national employment report compiled by payroll processor Automatic Data Processing (ADP) and forecasting firm Moody’s Analytics.
Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal expected ADP to report a stronger February increase of 160,000 jobs. The January ADP employment increase was revised down sharply to 127,000 from 175,000 reported a month ago. Read more here.
(Business in Vancouver)
In an attempt to get striking truckers back on the job, Port Metro Vancouver and the British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA) have released an eight-point plan they say addresses many of the concerns raised by truckers.
But the document does not solve key problems with the container trucking system, said representatives from the United Truckers Association (UTA) and the Unifor-affiliated Vancouver Container Truckers Association (VCTA).
Both groups say long waiting times at the terminals are cutting into truckers’ pay. The VCTA, whose last collective agreement expired in June 2012, is also asking for a pay rate increase and for the federal and provincial governments to appoint labour mediator Vince Ready to broker an agreement. Read more here.