Steel Makers Unite to Appeal ITC Import Decision

steel-coilWashington, DC – US producers of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) have said they will file an appeal of the negative decision on “material injury” by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

The AK Steel Corp., ATI Flat Rolled Producers, and the United Steelworkers Union, which represents workers engaged in the production of GOES at ATI Flat Rolled, will join forces to fight the ITC’s decision.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, which represents workers engaged in the production of GOES at AK Steel Corporation, also expressed its support for the appeal.

GOES is a flat-rolled alloy, specialty steel product that’s used primarily in the production of laminated cores for large and medium-sized electrical power transformers and distribution transformers.

The petitions cover GOES in either sheet or strip form, in coils or in straight lengths imported from the Czech Republic, China, South Korea, and Russia.

“We are very disappointed by the negative determination by the ITC,” said David A. Hartquist of Kelley, Drye & Warren LLP, the Washington, DC-based counsel to petitioners.

“We believe the case warranted an affirmative determination and that the majority decision contains fundamental errors of fact and law,” he said.

The Department of Commerce, he said, “found antidumping margins of up to 159 percent, which caused lost sales and significant financial injury to the US producers, which in our judgment met the legal standard for an affirmative determination.”

The petitioners also filed an appeal on September 16, 2014 to a similar ITC decision covering imports from Germany, Japan and Poland.

10/24/2014

 

Port of Long Beach Clogged with Box Cargo

longbeach10Long Beach, CA – Cargo movement through the Port of Long Beach is being delayed from three to five days because of a surge in cargo volume and a “stressed and in some cases, flawed ”supply chain infrastructure, according to port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.

Speaking at a recent town hall meeting at the Center for International Trade & Transportation at California State University – Long Beach, Slangerup said the flaws result from a failure of the supply chain “to work as an integrated system.”

Slangerup’s comments follow his recent formation of a Congestion Relief Team (CRT) “to meet daily, seek solutions, and solicit feedback from our staff in the field.”

The port, he said, “will do everything we can bring our partners who operate and work at the terminals together to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions.”

The first target of the CRT is the shortage of chassis at the port, a situation that Slangerup has called a “mismanaged mess.” Chassis are the frame trailers used to haul cargo containers.

“There is a chassis imbalance,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, the Port’s chief operating officer. “This is a big part of the congestion issue and I have been facilitating discussions with the key players to find relief as soon as possible.”

Cargo numbers rose sharply for the Port of Long Beach in September as the port recorded its heaviest traffic for that month since 2007, the port’s peak cargo volume year.

Nearly 630,000 containers moved through the port last month, a 7 percent increase over the same month last year.

Imports to Long Beach rose 10 percent as retailers brought in products for the holiday shopping season. More than 339,000 containers came into the port, making it the third-highest month for imports in the port’s history. Exports, however, fell 12 percent.

Over the first nine months of the year, container traffic at the Port of Long Beach is up 1.7 percent.

Cargo numbers climbed in September largely due to the importation of products for the upcoming holiday shopping season and the increased container capacity of the newer generation of containerships calling at the port.

10/23/2014

WTO Slams US ‘COOL’ Meat Import Labeling Rules

06478_COOL_NewLabelJuly2013Los Angeles, CA – Canada and Mexico are lauding a finding by the World Trade Organization that the US has failed to bring its Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) meat labeling regulations fully in line with international fair trading rules.

In a joint statement, the governments of Canada and Mexico issued a statement saying, “The WTO has confirmed once again what we have known all along: that the United States’ mandatory COOL requirement for beef and pork is a blatant breach of its international obligations as a member of the WTO.”

The WTO ruling, the statement said, “provides an opportunity for the U.S. to cease this harm and to comply with its international obligations.”

COOL rules require retailers such as grocery stores and meat markets to list the country of origin on the products they sell.

The WTO ruled in June 2012 that the COOL program “unfairly discriminated” against Canadian and Mexican beef and pork imports because it gave “less favorable treatment” to those products than that given US-produced beef and pork in violation of WTO rules.

The US responded, saying that it had met a deadline to change the rules, but Canada and Mexico said it had not done enough.

Unless the revised COOL rules are given the all-clear by the WTO’s Appellate Body, both Mexico and Canada can ask the trade body to let them impose trade sanctions on the US.

US pork producers have urged Congress and the administration to fix the rules and avoid “financially devastating” retaliation, while several other groups including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, farmer cooperatives and corn refiners said the offending sections should be immediately rescinded.

“The WTO dispute panel on the US Country of Origin Labeling rule brings us all one step closer to facing retaliatory tariffs from two of our largest trading partners,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bob McCan.

Canada and Mexico said they “remain extremely disappointed that the United States has continued, to date, to attempt to defend this clearly protectionist policy, which harms trade with the United States’ largest export markets and also hurts domestic US livestock producers and meat processors and retailers.”

10/22/2014

Anti-Counterfeit Efforts Finally Go Global

seizure-of-counterfeit-goods-594x396Washington, DC – It’s no longer just the US and the European Union that are concerned with the festering issue of counterfeit products, say Michael Czinkota and Ilkka Ronkainen of Georgetown University.

“Globally, companies reportedly lose a total of $657 billion every year because of product counterfeiting and other infringement on intellectual property,” they say. “Today’s key problems are with high-visibility and strong brand name consumer goods.”

Intellectual property enforcement “ensures that new ideas can blossom into economic opportunity,” they’ve written in a recently published paper addressing the topic of counterfeit goods.

“Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have become a core issue in the global economic debate. No longer confined to cheap knockoffs of luxury goods, IP theft is placing industry and the public at risk of highly adverse economic, safety, and health consequences,” they added.

Earlier, the only concern was whether a company’s product was being counterfeited; now, the raw materials and components purchased for production may be counterfeited.  In general, countries with lower per capita incomes, higher levels of corruption in government, and lower levels of involvement in international trade tend to have more intellectual property violations.

Ronkainen teaches marketing and international business at Georgetown University, while Czinkota researches international business and policy issues at the school.

According to the writers, China, long seen as the focal production point of global counterfeiting operations, has taken significant steps to counter what has plagued the country’s e-commerce market particularly hard.

Alibaba “spends more than $16 million yearly fighting counterfeit goods,” they say. Another example is “Hong Kong’s commitment to the protection” of intellectual property.

“With the goal of enhancing consumer confidence in Hong Kong, and to strengthen the city’s reputation as a ‘Shopping Paradise’ for genuine products, the Intellectual Property Department has launched the ‘No Fakes Pledge’ scheme,” Czinkota and Ronkainen said.

The issuing bodies of the scheme are the Hong Kong & Kowloon Electrical Appliances Merchants’ Association Limited and the Hong Kong Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries.

“The international marketer must act to enforce intellectual property rights.  No industry or country is immune from infringement, nor can they address the threat alone. There is also need for better education regarding the risks IPR violations pose and how to defend against them,” they said.

For example, the pharmaceutical industry lobbied to make sure that provisions for patent protection in the NAFTA agreement were meticulously spelled out.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers (PhRMA) addressed the issue of international IP protection by responding to the Special 301 Report issued by the US Trade Representative in May 2012.

The PhRMA statement cited the need for IP protections in spurring innovation, research and development, as well as the need for fair international market conditions to ensure that patients have access to medications.

One research firm estimated the global market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals to generate revenues between $75 billion and $200 billion a year.

The Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI), a trade association created to address illegal pharmaceutical incidents, collects data on the number of counterfeiting, illegal diversion, and theft incidents. These incidents increased seventy-eight percent from 2005 to 2009.

Pfizer reports that between 2004 and 2010 it seized more than 62 million doses of counterfeit medicines worldwide.  More than 200 million counterfeit Eli Lilly medicines have been seized in 800 raids around the world.

“A number of other governments are drafting similar policies, which have served as a catalyst for enhancing protection in both the public and private sectors in those nations,” said Czinkota and Ronkainen.

Efforts to protect intellectual property, and modernize the patent and trademark system are crucial, they added.

“The power of creativity and innovation applied to the solving of practical problems is not the exclusive province of any country or people. A victory over fakes and counterfeits will protect the quality and reliability of products and services, and lets customers be more informed and secure in their usage decisions.”

10/21/2014

Moscow Targets McDonald’s Charity Operation

mcdonaldsrussiaLos Angeles, CA – Ronald McDonald House Charities is the latest target of Moscow’s campaign of investigations into the Russian operations of global fast food giant McDonald’s.

Russian authorities are reportedly preparing to level tax evasion and money laundering charges against the charity, which operates a sports facility for physically and mentally disabled children in Moscow, and a residential facility near a children’s hospital in Kazan, 450 miles east of Moscow.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Russian Duma legislator Andrei Krutov said, “They use donations from ordinary Russians, so that is why we want to know how this money is spent. I am talking only about financial aspects of their activities, and technical questions about their work. We do not want you to think that we have political reasons for doing this.”

In August, Russia’s consumer protection agency ordered four of the company’s largest restaurants to suspend operations over a host of alleged hygiene violations and shortly afterwards added another five to the list.

Since then, 12 restaurant in Russia have been closed for alleged “sanitary reasons” while more than 200 unscheduled hygiene and safety “inspections” have been carried out.

Last week, nine more McDonald’s outlets – four in Moscow, two in Yekaterinburg, two in Volgograd and one in Sochi – were “temporarily” shut-down.

The latest move subjects more than half the McDonald’s franchises in Russia to government scrutiny.

McDonald’s Russia issued a statement on its website over the weekend saying that, “Right now, more than 200 probes have been initiated,” adding that a Russian court had extended the government’s temporary closure of the initial nine restaurants and added that it would appeal against the decision.

The company, which opened its first restaurant in Russia in 1990, has 450 restaurants across the country, more than 100 of which are in Moscow and the surrounding region. More than 60 are in St Petersburg and the surrounding region, the country’s second big metropolitan area.

Moscow’s investigation campaign is seen in the West as a slap-back at the economic and financial sanctions and executive orders put in place earlier this year by the US in response to Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and continued incursions into neighboring Ukraine.

10/20/2014

Global Air Cargo Volume to Double by 2033

aircargo1Chicago, IL – Boeing has released a report projecting air cargo traffic to grow at an annual rate of 4.7 percent over the next 20 years, with global air freight traffic expected to more than double by 2033.

Major air cargo carriers were severely hit by the global financial crisis in 2008 and, despite a rebound in 2010, worldwide air cargo traffic has remained flat in recent years, the World Air Cargo Forecast said.

The market began to see growth again in second quarter of 2013 reaching 4.4 percent for the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period a year earlier.

If this trend continues, 2014 will be the highest growth year for the air freight industry since 2010, according to the Boeing report.

“We see strong signs of a recovery as air freight traffic levels continue to strengthen after several years of stagnation,” said Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes’ vice president of marketing.

The global air cargo market “is now growing at nearly the long-term rates,” he said in a statement.

The new forecast shows Asia-North America and Europe-Asia will continue to be the dominant world air cargo markets with the most traffic volume. Intra-Asia, domestic China and Asia-North America markets are expected to have the fastest growth rates over the next 20 years.

With increased air cargo traffic, the world freighter fleet is also expected to grow with deliveries of 840 new factory-built airplanes and 1,330 passenger-to-freighter conversion airplanes.

More than 52 percent of those deliveries are expected to replace retiring airplanes and the remainder used for fleet expansion.

10/17/2014

Universal Plans New 1,000 Acre Theme Park in China

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Universal City, CA – China has approved the development of a $3.3 billion Universal theme park in Beijing that would be the first major foreign-owned theme park in the Chinese capital.

The planned theme park will be the third Universal park in Asia after Singapore and Osaka.

California-based Comcast NBCUniversal and a consortium of four Chinese state-owned companies issued a joint statement saying the park will be developed on about 300 acres in eastern Beijing.

They said the Beijing park will include attractions from other Universal parks as well as new ones reflecting China’s cultural heritage.

The complex will eventually cover about 1,000 acres and will feature a Universal CityWalk entertainment zone and a Universal-themed resort hotel. The developers said they were not ready to announce a timeframe for completing the park.

China’s growing consumer market has proved fertile ground for US companies looking to expand theme park franchises. Disney has opened one park in Hong Kong and is building another one in Shanghai.

In June, Six Flags announced plans to build six parks in China over the next decade. Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc. is building a $2.4 billion complex with Chinese partners in Shanghai, scheduled to open in 2017.

China is home to 11 of the top 20 amusement parks in Asia with about 166 million visits in 2013.

According to industry analysts, amusement parks in China are expected to total nearly $3 billion this year alone. There are 59 more parks in the pipeline, and by 2020, theme park attendance in China could overtake the US market’s 220 million visits last year.

The opening date and specific development plans for the new Universal park were not announced.

10/16/2014

 

US, Mexico Border Truck Program Expires

Mexican-border-odWashington, DC – The three-year program giving Mexican long-haul truckers access inside the US beyond the designated commercial border zone has officially expired, but the border will remain open to the 13 Mexico-domiciled carriers that were granted authority to participate in the project.

As required by statute, the Department of Transportation has completed a three-year trucking pilot program with Mexico,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) agency responsible for conducting the pilot project, said Tuesday in a prepared statement.

The controversial cross-border program, strongly opposed by the US trucking industry, was created in 2011 to evaluate the safety of cross-border long-haul operations, with 13 carriers participating in the program.

“Prior to making any additional determinations regarding cross-border trucking issues or specific carriers, the department will await expected reports on the pilot program from the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the DOT Inspector General,” the agency said.

“In the interim, based upon successful completion of the program, as well as a review of safety and inspection data collected during the program, the department has converted the 13 participants to provisional or standard operating authority, allowing those carriers to continue to operate in the United States.”

The 13 carriers will reportedly continue to undergo regular border inspections and be subject to all US motor carrier laws and regulations, the DOT said.

In addition, it said that there were no fatalities or major accidents involving Mexico-domiciled trucks during the current pilot or the previous pilot program that ended in 2009 when it was scrapped by Congress.

10/15/2014

Apple Plans Broad Global iPhone 6 Distribution

iphonesCupertino, CA – By the end of this month, technology giant Apple Inc. will make its highly popular iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus available in 36 additional countries and territories across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Starting with China, India and Monaco this week, the new iPhones will be available in China and 68 other countries and territories by the end of the month, including the initial launch countries.

The distribution campaign is reportedly also on track to make the devices available in more than 115 countries by the end of the year, making this the company’s fastest iPhone rollout ever.

Apple set a new record for first weekend sales of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, having breached the 10 million mark within just three days of its initial September 9 sales launch in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

The new iPhones will be available in Israel from Thursday, October 23 and in Czech Republic, French West Indies, Greenland, Malta, Poland, Reunion Island and South Africa the following day. They will be available in Bahrain and Kuwait from Thursday, October 30.

It will be available in further 23 countries – Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Guam, Hungary, Iceland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macau, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Thailand – on October 31.

Cupertino, California-based Apple unveiled the two new larger screen smartphones, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, last month in San Francisco.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are both available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions and feature larger HD (high definition) screens than their predecessors, as well as markedly enhanced performance and power efficiency.

10/14/2014

Seattle, Tacoma to Combine Ocean Cargo Operations

seatacSeattle, WA – ​ The Seattle and Tacoma port commissions will unify the management of the two ports’ marine cargo terminals and related functions under a single Seaport Alliance “to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo for the region.”

The new Seaport Alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions will retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets, said a spokesman for the Port of Seattle.

This unprecedented level of cooperation between the state’s two largest container ports “is a strategic response to the competitive pressures that are reshaping the global shipping industry.”

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, which, when combined, form the third-largest container gateway in North America, “face fierce competition from ports throughout North America, as shipping lines form alliances, share space on ever-larger vessels and call at consolidated terminals at fewer ports,” said Port of Tacoma Commission president Clare Petrich.

“Working together, we can better focus on financially sustainable business models that support customer success and ensure our ability to reinvest in terminal assets and infrastructure,” she said.

“Where we were once rivals, we now intend to be partners,” said Stephanie Bowman, co-president of the Port of Seattle Commission.

Instead of competing, “we are combining our strengths to create the strongest maritime gateway in North America. The Seaport Alliance is the result of our shared commitment to maintaining the economic health of our region through a thriving maritime industry.”

The Seaport Alliance is the outgrowth of talks held under the sanction and guidance of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).

Subject to further FMC review and approval, the two port commissions will enter into an ‘Interlocal Agreement’ (ILA), which is intended “to provide the ports with a framework for a period of due diligence to examine business objectives, strategic marine terminal investments, financial returns, performance metrics, organizational structure, communications and public engagement.”

Following the due diligence period, the two port commissions intend to submit a more detailed agreement for the Seaport Alliance to the FMC by the end of March 2015.

During the due diligence period, John Wolfe, Port of Tacoma CEO, and Kurt Beckett, Port of Seattle deputy CEO, will co-lead the planning work and coordinate with both port commissions, according to a joint statement released by both ports.

Commissioners from both ports expect to hold a public meeting next spring to hire Wolfe as the CEO of the Seaport Alliance following the FMC’s approval of the agreement.

10/13/2014