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Port of Southampton investing in quayside to continue welcoming largest ships | Brazil Modal

This project, costing £4.3 million, is part of an ongoing programme of investment in infrastructure and quayside facilities to ensure the Port of Southampton keeps Britain trading. The former Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) building, which historically has been a prominent feature in the port’s skyline, is being taken down along with a dry goods storage shed in the Eastern Docks.

The space generated will play a critical role in the movement and trade of High and Heavy – typically exports of farm, construction or specialist machinery and vehicles.

Once the work is complete, the largest car carriers (Ro-Ro) in the world will be able to berth in this newly created space generating further opportunities for international trade.

Regional Director for Southampton Alastair Welch said: “Continued investment around the port is essential and ensures that we stay one step ahead of adapting to our customers’ growing and changing needs.

The Port of Southampton handles £71 billion of trade every year, generating more than £2.5 billion for the economy.

This phase of investment marks the latest in a number of large-scale projects in recent years to ensure the port can continue to welcome the world’s largest container ships and cruise vessels.

Source: Associated British Ports


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Tariffs, Trade War Threaten Jobs and Economy at Port of LA

Tariffs threaten nearly 1.5 million U.S. jobs and more than $186 billion of economic activity nationwide, according to a new study conducted for the Port of Los Angeles.

The potential risks are based on the impact of tariffs levied on cargo handled by the nation’s busiest container port complex.

The report, “By the Numbers: Jeopardizing the National Benefits of Trade through America’s Busiest Port Complex,” shows how many jobs and how much sales, income and taxes are at risk for every state due to tariffs, based on international trade through the San Pedro Bay ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The study also shows the economic benefits of these imports and exports to each congressional district and identifies the percentage burdened by tariffs.

“Every urban, suburban and rural community across our nation benefits from imports and exports moving through the San Pedro Bay ports, and ongoing tariffs are putting those benefits at risk,” says Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “Some regions and industries are already feeling the pain, and the damage to jobs, income and tax revenue could be crippling down the road.”

Causing More Harm than Good

“This study provides graphic proof that a trade policy relying on overuse of tariffs can rebound badly on America, causing more harm than good to our long-term economic health,” says Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council.  “The Administration’s imposition of tariffs as high as 25% have raised costs for everyday consumers of basic products such as food and clothing, home appliances and our ubiquitous iPhones. That’s bad enough, but they also cause untold damage to our most competitive manufacturers and farmers, rendering them less competitive at home and abroad as production costs increase and foreign retaliation shrinks their exports. It is now clear that a tariff war without sensible constraints is a lose-lose proposition for the vast majority of Americans.”

The study shows that tariffs imposed over the last two years could add additional costs—in the range of $31 to $35 billion—which are borne by consumers at the retail level and by American manufacturers who rely on imported raw materials and components to produce American-made products.

“The study focuses on the impacts of tariffs based on trade through the San Pedro Bay ports,” Seroka says. “The implications are much bigger when you consider all U.S. ports, so the effects that the Port of Los Angeles is seeing should concern all U.S. ports of entry.”

Cargo moving through the nation’s largest container port complex is valued at more than $380 billion, and the economic activity it generates—including more than 3 million jobs nationwide—is a bellwether for the health of the overall U.S. economy. Imports through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach flow to every state in the nation, and goods grown or manufactured in every state flow through these ports to reach global markets, predominantly Asia.

U.S.-imposed tariffs have triggered retaliatory tariffs. The vast majority of U.S. tariffs target trade with China, the world’s second largest economy and America’s largest source of imported products. China accounts for 54% of imports and 29% of U.S. exports moving through the San Pedro Bay ports, based on value.

The effect is a threefold disadvantage for U.S. businesses and workers. First, import tariffs increase costs for U.S. consumers and producers. Second, tariffs make foreign products cheaper to manufacture, putting U.S. manufacturers at a cost disadvantage in the marketplace. Third, retaliatory tariffs reduce the demand for U.S. exports, putting U.S. companies and jobs at risk as foreign consumer markets look elsewhere for goods and products. Cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles for October reflect these trends, marking 12 consecutive months of declining U.S. exports, 25% fewer ship calls, and a 19.1% decrease in volume compared with October 2018.

“If cargo traffic out of the San Pedro Bay ports is declining because of tariffs it means America farmers and ranchers are hurting,” says Angela Hofmann, co-executive director of Farmers for Free Trade. “95% of the world’s consumers are overseas. But when tariffs cut off access to markets that are hungry for American livestock, grains, vegetables and other farm products, the economic pain reverberates from ports, to farms to Main Street businesses.”

The toll has been especially heavy on the U.S. agricultural sector, with 26% to 51% of exports from all 50 states hit by tariffs, based on trade through the San Pedro Bay ports. The top 10 most vulnerable states are California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Arizona and Missouri. Within the last year alone, exports of U.S. animal products and feed dropped 10% year over year based on January through August of 2019 volumes.

“Tariffs are a tax on U.S. companies and consumers. Recent data from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland shows Americans have paid an extra $38 billion in tariffs because of the trade war—and that number is only getting higher,” says Jonathan Gold, spokesman for Americans for Free Trade. “While the administration continues to claim that China is paying the tariffs, it’s clear the real casualties are American businesses, farmers, workers and consumers. As the trade negotiations continue, it is imperative that both sides come to a final agreement that removes all tariffs.”

The study includes an interactive map of the country and the effects of the tariffs in each state. 

Exposed regions extend far beyond California:

  • Tariffs affect 90% to 100% of U.S. exports shipped by container through the San Pedro Bay port complex from 42 congressional districts—nearly one in 10—across the country:  Valued at nearly $212 million, these products originate from 22 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
  • Texas alone benefits from nearly $25 billion in economic activity—total output from sales, production and spending—resulting from trade moving through the San Pedro Bay ports.
  • Illinois Congressional District 8: This suburban district north of Chicago is home to 658 companies whose import and export business is valued at more than $1.4 billion.


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Euronav Signs LSFO Deal with Malaysian Port of Linggi | Brazil Modal

Oceania; Image Courtesy: Euronav

The port would also provide other services, including supplying crews and provisions, for the company’s ships sailing on the East of Suez routes, Reuters referred to a statement released by the port operator.

The contract would help Malaysia develop its maritime and bunkering industries, with an aim to rival the world’s largest hub in neighboring Singapore. The parties did not reveal the financial terms of the agreement.

The deal comes only months after Euronav sent one of its two ultra-large crude carriers (ULCC), the 2003-built Oceania, to Kuala Linggi International Port (KLIP). Namely, the company purchased a total of 420,000 metric tons of compliant fuel oil and marine gasoil and used the ship to store this inventory because of its size and related economies of scale.

According to AIS data provided by Marine Traffic, the 441,585 dwt tanker arrived at the port of Sungai Linggi in late September, where it would be used as floating storage with 3 million barrels of 0.2% and 0.5% low sulphur fuel oil.

In line with Euronav’s strategy, a new USD 100 million revolving loan facility has been secured with a club of banks in order to assist funding of the compliant fuel inventory on the Oceania.


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MPC Capital Takes Stake in Tanker Specialist Albis | Brazil Modal

Illustration; Source: Unsplash/Shaah Shahidh

Albis operates a commercial platform for tankers of various sizes, offering tailor-made solutions for chartering and operations of tankers.

In addition to the technical ship manager Ahrenkiel Tankers, MPC Capital said that, by acquiring a stake in Albis, it complements its range of services in the tanker segment as well.

Following the recent merger between Contchart and Harper Petersen, the newest transaction is expected to strengthen MPC Capital’s commercial expertise.

“In view of the new IMO 2020 regulations and the relatively high average age of the global tanker fleet, we expect a number of changes to the tanker industry going forward,” Christian Rychly, Managing Director of MPC Maritime Holding, explained.

“This will include discussions on the alternative propulsion technologies as well as appropriate ship designs for the changing trade flows. We are also seeing growing interest from institutional investors who want to develop these new concepts jointly with us,” Rychly added.

Headquartered in Hamburg, Albis is, apart from the tanker business, also active in the drybulk segment via a joint venture as well as the sale & purchase of tonnage.


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Trade war prompts US firms to set sights on Thailand

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and US President Donald Trump (right).

Companies in the United States are transferring their operations to Southeast Asia—particularly Thailand—having suffered from more than a year of trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Thailand deputy secretary-general to the prime minister Kobsak Pootrakool said that many executives from US firms are seeking the help of the Board of Investments (BoI) and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to facilitate their relocation plans after an already 16-month trade spat between the US and China.

“The government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative and new investment policies to promote high technology, R&D (research and development), innovation, headquarters and human resource development have made Thailand more enticing to foreign investment,” Pootrakool said.

He said Jatusripitak has already assigned the BoI to assist their relocation and design investment packages fit for their needs.

During the first nine months of the year, US investors ranked ninth by country in application privileges in Thailand with 3 billion baht covering 24 projects.

Last year alone, US businesses applied for 38 projects worth 333 billion baht, of which 18.3 billion baht was approved.

Thailand is currently the US’ 20th-largest trade partner, as two-way trade totaled to $44.5 billion in 2018.

The US goods trade deficit with Thailand was at $19.3 billion also last year.

Pootrakool said a New York-listed company, VMware Inc., has also sought for the government’s cooperation and support on information technology-related human resource development.

He said VMware chief executive officer Patrick Gelsinger proposed to help the government develop cybersecurity and cloud services, as well as digital infrastructure in the EEC and an e-government development plan.

On Friday, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) inked a memorandum of understanding with Guangdong-based China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Committee (CCPIT) for the cooperation on the promotion of innovation and technology, education and tourism, R&D on economic-related issues, trade, and culture.

FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree expects that the partnership will result in attracting more trade and investments in Thailand from Guangdong.

The province of Guangdong has the largest gross domestic product share in China, having contributed 9.73 trillion yuan or $1.47 trillion for last year alone.

CCPIT also led 20 companies from Guangdong to visit the EEC.



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EIB Provides USD 155 Mn for Port of Piraeus Expansion | Brazil Modal

Illustration; Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

The 20-year loan, signed in Athens, will support the implementation of part of investments at the principal port of Greece in a total investment plan of more than EUR 600 million (USD 662 million).

The funding was described as the largest ever loan for port investment in the country by Europe’s long-term lending institution.

“The EIB has been supporting strategic infrastructure across Greece for more than 50 years and has unique technical and financial expertise financing leading ports across Europe and worldwide,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, said.

“Redevelopment of the Port of Piraeus will strengthen connections between Greece and the rest of the world and ensure that Greece benefits from a world-class maritime logistics hub … EIB support reflects the economic benefits to be unlocked in the coming years and the importance of ensuring competitive transport links for Greece and South Eastern Europe,” Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President, added.

The first EUR 100 million tranche of the EIB loan was signed on November 11 and the remainder was agreed as project construction progresses. The loan is guaranteed by the Exports – Imports Bank of China.

New investment at the Port of Piraeus includes development of a new port logistics centre, construction of a new cruise passenger handling facility, expansion of car shipping facilities, an improved ship repair area and the upgrade of the container terminal.

The long-term EIB loan will complement other investments in the port currently under consideration by the European Commission and the Greek government.


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Reducing Ship Speeds Has Multiple Benefits, New Study Shows | Brazil Modal

Illustration; Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

According to the two Brussels-based environmental NGOs, the large positive effect that reduced speeds can have on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is well known. What has received less attention is the positive effect such a change in speeds would have on nature and human health.

The report describes how a modest 20% reduction in ship speed would reduce underwater noise pollution by 66%, and the chance of a fatal collision between a ship and a whale by a massive 78%. Both noise and whale strikes are having a serious impact on the health of the marine environment.

Moreover, reduced ship speed means reduced fuel burn, resulting not just in reductions in GHG emissions but also big reductions in black carbon, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, all important air pollutants. SOx and NOx emissions have serious implications for human health, while black carbon is a concern in the Arctic where it is responsible for accelerating global heating.

The new study was commissioned ahead of the latest round of UN ship climate negotiations at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London. The 6th session of the IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee Intersessional Working Group on GHG Emissions (ISWG-GHG6) is meeting from November 11 to 15 in order to consider proposals for short-term measures to tackle shipping’s climate impact, amongst them to reduce ship speeds.

“Speed reduction is the closest thing to a silver bullet the IMO will ever see,”  John Maggs from Seas at Risk said.

“Delegates attending this week’s IMO climate negotiations have on the table proposals to reduce ship speed that would not just make a big dent in shipping’s climate impact but would massively reduce air pollution, underwater noise pollution, and the incidence of fatal collisions between whales and ships, all issues that the IMO must also deal with.”

“Killing four birds with one stone is pretty good, but when you add in that it saves shipowners money on their fuel bill, it really is a no-brainer,” Faig Abbasov from Transport & Environment added.


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RCEP trade deal | View: By saying no to RCEP, PM Modi has kept India first

By Amit Shah

November 4, 2019 shall go down as an historic milestone for India’s bold decision to stay away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The decision also cements India’s growing stature as a country that is rock solid in its resolve to not only protect its own interests, but also to boldly ward off any attempts to being arm-twisted. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, New India reflects a new self-confidence.

India’s not joining RCEP was summed up by the PM himself: ‘Whenever I try and gauge India’s interest in light of her joining RCEP, I do not get an answer in the affirmative; neither Gandhiji’s policy of self-reliance nor my wisdom allows me to join RCEP.’ What makes this decision significant is that this has yet again demonstrated that the PM can go to any extent to safeguard the interests of farmers, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), textile, dairy and manufacturing, medicine, steel and chemical industries. The PM didn’t compromise on it since the agreement didn’t seem to accommodate India’s concerns on issues like trade losses and dumping. India should not be party to any such international treaty that’s one-sided & against the interests of our farmers and entrepreneurs.

The Congress-led UPA government failed in safeguarding the interests of India. In 2007, it had already begun thinking of engaging in a regional trade agreement (RTA) with China. How this affected India’s trade with China is borne out by the fact that during UPA’s tenure, India’s trade losses with China grew 23 times — from $1.9 billion in 2005 to $44.8 billion in 2014. This hit indigenous industries hard.

An example of Congress’ history of compromising with India’s interests is the 2013 Bali Agreement. While participating in the WTO conference, then commerce minister Anand Sharma had weakened India’s stand on its provisions for agriculture subsidy and support prices to farmers. This could have created havoc for farmers, but for the timely intervention of the PM in 2014, who ensured that then commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman rejected the proposal.

Rebuilding the Wall

It is ironic that Congress, which has had a shaky history of dealing with such international treaties, is now desperately trying to take credit for the PM’s decision to stay away from RCEP. In fact, it was Congress’ lack of foresight that had led to India agreeing to become part of this bloc. In its original form, other than 10 Asean countries, only China, Japan and South Korea were to join RCEP.

However, thanks to Congress’ lack of concern for the kind of damages it could pose to SMEs and farmers, the UPA government agreed to become part of RCEP. It was evident from the start that this could open the floodgates for Chinese goods to enter India. India also did not share favourable terms of trade with other countries of the bloc.

Congress had also compromised India’s interests in the Asean free trade agreement (FTA). Even as countries like Indonesia and Vietnam decided to open only 50% and 69% of their market share for India, New Delhi decided to open 74% of India’s commodities for trade. Decisions like these caused India enormous loss in its trades with RCEP countries — from $7 billion in 2004 to $78 billion in 2014. In the context of current exchange rates, this translates into losses of Rs 5,46,000 crore (2014) from Rs 50,000 crore (2004).

2019 is the New 2014

Since 2014, in RCEP dialogues, GoI has aggressively protected India’s interests and worked with member countries to agree to favourable conditions, such as opening up the services sector for the first time for India, higher exports from India, etc. Congress was so eager to be a part of RCEP that it had conceded that the import duty as applicable on January 1, 2014, would be taken as the base rate, assuming the agreement would be operational by 2016.

This could have caused havoc, as the 2014 base rate would have led to unhindered imports. Also, the import duties on many products have gone up in last few years. The PM argued for 2019 as the base rate.

In the RCEP conference, along with commerce minister Piyush Goel, the PM put forward the interests of farmers, SMEs and manufacturing industries, and vigorously asked for amendments vital to India’s interest. The most prominent demands were amendment in tariff differential, changes in base rate for customs duty, changes in the most favoured nation (MFN) rule, asking for exemptions built into ratchet obligations as part of the pact, respecting India’s federal character while determining investments, etc. India was unwavering in its resolve to bring to the fore these pertinent issues.

At one point during the dialogue, out of the 70 agenda items, around 50 were of concern to India.

GoI has begun to evaluate Asean and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with South Korea. It is working on getting into trade relations with Japan, the US, EU countries, and other developed nations that shall help in making India a $5 trillion economy. Considering India’s growing stature, RCEP members can’t afford to ignore it for long, and will come around to agree to GoI’s terms. Meanwhile, India has maintained successful economic relations with Asean by the means of FTA.

By rejecting RCEP, India has firmly protected its industries from any adverse effects that Chinese interests could have caused. For us, India remains first, and foremost.

The writer is home minister, GoI


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