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China's economy is weakening, spurring fear of a global slowdown. The trade war isn't helping

Just about every indicator of economic health in China is down. On top of Apple's slumping sales here, car sales have plunged for the first time in 20 …


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Synergy Group fleet boosted | Brazil Modal

 Currently under Synergy’s technical management on Evergreen Line’s popular Far East-North Europe and Mediterranean service, the 20,000+ TEU capacity ULCV is one of the largest container ships in service worldwide.“As a leader within the ship management sector, we are thrilled to join the 20,000+ TEU club,” said Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of Singapore-headquartered Synergy Group.“The Ever Gifted is one of the highest capacity container ships currently in service.

It is also one of the most efficient, enviro-friendly and impressive vessels deployed across Evergreen’s service network.

“Synergy is uniquely equipped to take on the most demanding technical and commercial shipmanagement challenges,” said Captain Unni.

It offers fuel-efficient headhaul options and slow steaming variations on backhauls. We are absolutely delighted to have been entrusted with its safe operation.”The Singapore-flagged, 199,489dwt Ever Gifted has an overall length (L.O.A) of 399.98 metres, beam of 58.8 metres, total capacity of 20,388 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) and 1,300 reefer points.Fitted with a fuel optimised MAN B&W 11-cylinder G95ME engine, Ever Gifted offers a service speed of 23.2 knots and weighs in at 217,762 MT.On January 15, Synergy will take delivery of Ever Grade, a sistership of Ever Gifted also constructed by Imabari Shipbuilding.

“We eagerly look forward to the addition of the next set of ULCVs joining our fleet in the very near future as their Owners take advantage of our expertise in the management of the world’s largest container ships,” said Captain Unni.“With a fleet of more than 200 vessels covering all sectors of the commercial maritime fleet, adding these ULCVs to our fleet further emphasises how Synergy Group has cemented it status as one of the world’s leading shipmanagers.”Synergy continues to break new ground in technical and commercial shipmanagement innovation, consistently demonstrating its ability to manage the most technologically-advanced vessels joining the global fleet. In November last year, Synergy also joined with leading shipowners Reederei NORD and NISSEN Kaiun to set up N2Tankers, a new Aframax tanker pool.“

I think we have shown time and again that Synergy is uniquely equipped to take on the most demanding technical and commercial shipmanagement challenges,” said Captain Unni.“Two years ago, we prepared and trained specialised crew to operate the world’s first Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLEC). It is challenges like these that we excel in. It’s not only about managing traditional ships. As a technical partner for shipowners, we need to be prepared to take on the challenges posed by new technology.“Larger ships result in more complexity. New technology brings many unknowns. Modern shipmanagement is about preparing the next generation of crew to face these challenges and put in place processes that work seamlessly for these new kinds of vessel operations.

Our teams have proven over and over that they can find the right solutions.“These achievements would not be possible if our onshore and seagoing staff were not equipped and supported to ensure they perform to the peak of their capabilities.“It’s all about people and building a unique culture. It takes time, but every step in that journey is worthwhile.”


Source: Synergy Group


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The Provinces And Canadian Foreign Trade Policy

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The future of workers in the transport industry | Brazil Modal

 The forward-looking assessment, produced by WMU, investigates how the global transport industry will change as a result of automation and advanced technologies, forecasting and analyzing trends and developments in the major transport sectors – seaborne, road, rail and aviation – to 2040 with an emphasis on the implications for jobs and employment for transport workers.

This first-ever, independent and comprehensive assessment of how automation will affect the future of work in the transport industry focuses on technological changes that the industry is undertaking to efficiently interconnect the world through international trade. Trends in road, air, rail and maritime transport are presented. The report concludes that the introduction of automation in global transport will be “evolutionary, rather than revolutionary,” and that “despite high levels of automation, qualified human resources with the right skill sets will still be needed in the foreseeable future.”

Key findings indicate that technological advances are inevitable, but will be gradual and vary by region. Workers will be affected in different ways based on their skill levels and the varying degrees of preparedness of different countries. Case studies, as well as comparisons of autonomy scales and automation potential for job profiles in transport provide insight to the future of work. Regarding maritime transport, the report looks at 17 countries more specifically to assess how prepared they are for technical innovation.

The report notes that new technologies and automation are impacting transport sector workers through both the displacement and creation of jobs, and may result in difficult transitions for many employed in the transportation sector. The future of work needs to ensure that workers are suitably qualified and re-trained to effectively master new technologies and higher levels of automation.

IMO Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim, opened the launch event noting that integrating new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework for the shipping industry is a key strategic direction for IMO. “Member States and the industry need to anticipate the impact these changes may have and how they will be addressed,” he stated.

Introducing the report, ITF General Secretary, Mr. Stephen Cotton, emphasized that automation, new technology and the future of work are some of the most important challenges facing workers today. He stated, “Transport workers of today and tomorrow must be equipped with the required knowledge, skills and expertise for the jobs of tomorrow. The study provides the information needed to support these aims. The ITF remains committed to working in partnership to ensure our unions and members are central to developments in building the future of work.”

The importance of the study was echoed by Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, who stated, “There are four takeaways from the launch of this major report today: First, the academic freedom that the University had to undertake this independent report, and which was respected by the ITF.  Second, the research undertaken has enabled us to design and develop a repository on the status of technology globally, in all modes of transport. Third, it enabled us to provide a more accurate assessment of technology, the modes of transport, and their status in the short, medium and long term. And finally, the report represents research on transport modes that is 60 per cent focused on road, rail and aviation, and 40 per cent on maritime.”

Dr. Doumbia-Henry concluded with, “The transportation sector is vital to national economies and the global economy as a whole. We hope this report will help prepare the transportation industry to continue to contribute to the wellbeing of societies and communities worldwide and provide decent work for all.”


Source: WMU


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Asia stocks gain on hopes of US-China trade talks breakthrough

Friday 01.50 GMT

What you need to know

  • Hang Seng leads Asia stocks higher on US-China trade hopes
  • Pound stable just below $1.30 despite Brexit uncertainty
  • Oil benchmark gains after volatile session


Stocks rose on Friday as gains and positive sentiment on Wall Street — boosted by hopes of a US-China trade deal — rolled into the Asian trading morning. Those gains extended to oil benchmarks while currency and debt markets remained quiet.

Hot topic

Asia-Pacific equities clambered higher on Friday, with all major stock benchmarks buoyed by hopes that a more permanent truce might be brokered in the US-China trade war.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng led gains with a rise of 1.3 per cent with a 1.4 per cent climb by technology stocks and 0.8 per cent gains for financials. China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks rose 0.8 per cent.

In Taiwan the Taiex was up 0.1 per cent as a drop of 1.4 per cent for Apple supplier TSMC weighed on the index after the company forecast a steep drop in revenue growth amid a sharp downturn in smartphone sales.

In Tokyo the Topix rose 1.1 per cent, with gains across all sectors, while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 per cent as mining stocks, which are heavily exposed to China, up 0.9 per cent.

The gains followed on from a solid day on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 gained 0.8 per cent in the wake of media reports claiming US officials were weighing up plans to scale back tariffs on Chinese imports, bolstering hopes for a breakthrough in the trade dispute between the two countries.

Forex and fixed income

Foreign exchange markets were quiet on Friday with the dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of peers virtually flat at 96.058.

The pound, which had edged toward the $1.30 mark on Thursday despite Brexit uncertainty, was essentially unchanged at $1.2981.

Sovereign bond markets were muted as well with yields, which move opposite prices, on 10-year US Treasuries up 1 basis point at 2.756 per cent.


Oil prices were rising after wild swings during Thursday’s session left them not far from where they started. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 0.8 per cent in Asia to $61.67 a barrel while US marker West Texas Intermediate climbed 1.1 per cent to $52.63.

Gold was flat at $1,291.36 an ounce.

For market updates and comment follow us on Twitter @FTMarkets


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China-Rotterdam: Rail picks up steam | Brazil Modal


Shipping a container by sea from China to Rotterdam doesn’t cost that much. However, the preparations and follow-up can be complicated and expensive, making rail an increasingly competitive alternative for freight transport. Wens: “What’s more, China’s coastal region has not only become prohibitively expensive; the air quality has deteriorated to the point where it has a serious impact on the local business climate. You can see more and more plants relocating to inland regions.”

Last and first port of call

And the logistics chain looks very different from a province like Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan or Gansu. When you’re based in one of these areas, rail is suddenly an interesting alternative. “If you’re transporting your product to the UK, for example, rail and short sea via Rotterdam can be a very attractive option. And this even applies to cargo destined for the US. Since Rotterdam serves as the first and last port of call on many Atlantic itineraries, you can save up to two weeks by opting for rail rather than using shipping for the entire route.”


But rail is also becoming more and more popular for European destinations. One remarkable trend is the growing number of fashion shipments from China. “This used to be a combination of air freight – for collection launches – and sea shipping. Nowadays, a lot of clients use rail transport to restock hot-selling items halfway through,” explains Dennis de Roo, Managing Director of D&R Group. “By sea costs you 35 to 40 days; rail takes 24. This definitely gives you a bit more flexibility. We’re already handling a sizeable volume of freight for destinations in France. For example Petit Bateau, Café Au Lait shirts and clothing for Carrefour.”

Lower margins thanks to digitalisation

Basically, there are four key rail routes between China and Western Europe. Hamburg, Munich, Duisburg and Tilburg. The latter two connect almost directly with Rotterdam. According to the freight forwarder, the logistics chains with China aren’t always as straightforward as they’re sometimes made out to be. D&R Group’s experience with transporting cargo from and to China goes all the way back to 1977. De Roo: “Of course, there’s a lot you can arrange online, and the process is becoming more transparent. But you still need to know the ins and outs of the business.” Newly-announced shuttle services often turn out to be a one-time affair, and trains don’t always stick to the times and stops published in their schedules. Nevertheless, Cross Limits saw transport to China increase by some 30 percent in 2018. De Roo: “And this is accompanied by a marked decrease in the margins on the journey itself, thanks to increased reliance on all sorts of online booking tools. More and more often, the freight forwarder’s added value lies in supplementary services like customs settlement and handling the last mile. And of course, you could say that’s the way it should be.”


 Source: Port of Rotterdam


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China economy, Brexit vote, dollar in focus

Prime Minister Theresa May‘s plan on how Britain should exit the European Union was overwhelmingly voted down in the House of Commons, which is the U.K.’s lower house of parliament. Though the move was widely expected, reports suggested it was the largest defeat for a sitting government in U.K. political history.

The British pound traded at $1.2841 on Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN, recovering from a sharp decline below $1.2740 overnight.

“Sterling rallied following the defeat of the withdrawal agreement due to strong cross-party support to prevent a no deal from occurring on 29 March,” analysts at ANZ Research wrote in a morning note.

The British government now has just three working days to map out a new plan of action. But the ANZ analysts noted it is “unlikely to achieve much, given the level of opposition to the withdrawal agreement, unless there is a U-turn from Brussels.” They added that gains in the pound is “limited by the prevailing uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, Steven Englander, global head of G10 foreign exchange research at Standard Chartered Bank, told CNBC that the pound is not hugely at risk as long as Britain is able to avoid a change of government and also a scenario where it exits the EU without a deal, which is defined as a hard Brexit.

“I think that the market is thinking that the risks of a hard Brexit have been greatly reduced,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Wednesday morning.

“I think if we end up with say what most in the market … expect now, and from comments in parliament, that we’ll have some sort of extension and then, possibly, a referendum, possibly an effort to cobble together a new deal. I think sterling could find a little bit of support,” Englander added.

Elsewhere, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, last traded at 96.009. The Japanese yen, considered a safe-haven asset, fetched 108.49 to the dollar while the Australian dollar traded at $0.7198.


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Ocean market set to tighten due to lowered capacity expectations | Brazil Modal

Greatly reduced’ orders for ultra-large container vessels should aide container supply-demand balance, as major carriers focus on becoming global logistics integrators, Drewry reports.

Leading container shipping analyst has Drewry “greatly reduced” its expectations of new orders for ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) as a result of an apparent change of focus among some of the major carriers towards broadening and deepening their involvement in the wider container logistics market, trends it believes will aide the overall container shipping supply-demand balance.

In a briefing today, Simon Heaney, senior manager for container research at Drewry and editor of the company’s Container Forecaster report, commented: “We believe that the industry’s supply-demand balance will benefit from a reduced appetite for ULCVs among the major carriers, some of which now have their eyes fixed on a bigger prize of becoming global logistics integrators. Aside from feeder ship replenishment, there has been no reaction from other lines to HMM’s mega-ship order and as such we have greatly reduced our projected new orders for 2020 onwards.

“This subsequently feeds into a much brighter supply-demand index forecast for carriers through 2022, although the index is still expected to remain below the important 100 marker, indicative of a tighter but still over-supplied market. Ultimately, we believe that these adjustments on the supply side will be sufficient to cushion the blow from slowing demand growth and will contribute to better freight rates and profits.”

Weaker global macro-economic drivers contributed to a downgrade to Drewry’s port throughput forecast for 2019 to approximately 4%, but that softening trend should be mitigated by changes made on the supply side to better balance the market, Drewry believes. “Adjustments to the containership orderbook since the last Container Forecaster reveal that deliveries have been spread more widely than before, with more original 2018-19 newbuilds being pushed out to 2020,” Drewry noted. “Combined with an expected increase in demolitions, the net addition to the fleet is expected to be only half that of 2018, leading to a fleet growth rate of just 2.5%.”

Additionally, supply-side moves associated with the IMO’s upcoming 2020 low-sulphur fuel regulation have the potential to curb capacity, at least on a temporary basis, Drewry noted. “A growing tendency towards retro-fitting scrubbers could see a number of ships taken out of service for a number of weeks at a time, while more generally Drewry expects ship-owners to idle and eventually scrap more older and uneconomic ships before the 1 January deadline.

“Wider use of slow steaming will also help to absorb new capacity and reduce the often negative influence of the cascade on the supply-demand balance.”

Heaney concluded: “Last year was one of the most unpredictable the container shipping industry has faced, and this year is likely to be similarly volatile with question marks still hanging over the US-China trade war and new fuel regulations. However, despite being dogged by uncertainty, Drewry is predicting another solid year for the market.”


Source: Lloyd´s


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Beijing to tackle trade row with US this year: Minister, East Asia News & Top Stories

BEIJING • China will work to tackle trade friction with the United States this year, China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said in an interview with state media that followed three days of talks between the nations and perked up troubled financial markets.

The Ministry of Commerce, which has set trade negotiations as one of its priorities this year, will push talks forward and boost cooperation with US states, cities, business communities and non-governmental groups in order to promote a stable bilateral trade relationship, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing an interview Mr Zhong granted to it and a number of other Chinese agencies.

Talks between mid-level US and Chinese officials in Beijing concluded last Wednesday.

The negotiations were extended for a day, which added to optimism fuelled by recent tweets from US President Donald Trump that the two sides are making progress towards an agreement.

US and Chinese stocks have advanced in the early days of this year on fresh hope for a breakthrough in the showdown between the world’s two largest economies.

There are about seven weeks before the US-imposed deadline for a deal, after which Mr Trump may order a resumption of tariff hikes on imports from China.

The US President is increasingly eager to strike a deal with China in an effort to perk up financial markets that have slumped on concerns over the trade war, according to people familiar with internal White House deliberations.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, a key economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping, is set to visit Washington late this month for further trade talks, people familiar with the plans said last Friday.

Mr Liu would meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the sources said.

Separately, Mr Zhong told Xinhua that China’s goods consumption grew by around 9.1 per cent last year to 38 trillion yuan (S$7.6 trillion), and inbound foreign direct investment increased by 3 per cent last year to US$135 billion (S$183 billion).

Other priorities for the ministry this year include expanding market access for foreign capital.

Such work includes shortening the so-called negative list nationwide, including for free-trade pilot zones, and provides for allowing foreign investors to set up 100 per cent-owned companies in more industries.

It also entails efforts to open up service sectors more, he said.

The ministry will also focus on hosting the second international import expo and promote the construction of more free-trade pilot zones as well as experimenting with free-trade ports, Mr Zhong said.



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Bunker One to Start Marine Fuel Supply in German Ports | Brazil Modal

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

The new entity Bunker One (Germany) GmbH will be supplying marine fuel products and other related services to ferry, container and other commercial vessels in all ports it the German North Sea and Baltic Sea regions with bases in Rostock, Kiel and Hamburg.

Products will be delivered by barge, truck, and ex pipe. The new business unit will operate storage facilities in several relevant locations in Germany. Barge deliveries will be carried out by tank vessels, according to Bunker One.

From mid 2019 the latest, the physical operation will be able to provide very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5%, as informed by Bunker One.

Last month, Bunker One also started with its operation in Jamaican ports, off Jamaica and Trinidad. In the Caribbean, the company is using two specialized tankers – MT Kalymnos and MT Keflonia.


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