All-Out Ban Urged on Russian Seafood Imports

alaskacrabLos Angeles, CA – A number of companies from Alaska’s $6 billion seafood industry are voicing their support for a ban on Russian seafood imports to the US, while urging Moscow to rescind its August ban on US food imports.

Such a move, they say, “would not only further squeeze Russia’s faltering economy as Russia threatens European stability, but would support America’s sustainable, high-quality fisheries.”

Companies calling for the action reportedly include some of the largest seafood producers in the Pacific Northwest including Alaska General Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, North Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Westward Seafoods, and UniSea Inc., all based in Washington state, as well as the entire membership of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Association.

The proposed US ban, the group says, would remain in effect “until Russia rescinds its ban on US imports, and would include mechanisms to prohibit all seafood imports of Russian origin, including Russian-caught seafood that is transferred through other countries such as China before reaching the US.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars of Russian seafood imports are sold in the US every year, with much of the imported Russian fish coming through China.

The Alaska seafood industry is seeking support from the state’s Congressional delegation for the ban, as well as from the Office of the US Trade Representative, while also seeking diplomatic efforts to immediately end Russia’s ban on US seafood products.

Russia has been a major market for US seafood products such as salmon roe, hake, Alaskan pollock, and others, while the US has been an important market for Russian products including crab, Russian pollock, salmon, and caviar.

According to the US Department of Commerce, sales of food and agricultural products to Russia amounted to $1.3 billion in the first five months of this year with more than $86.5 million of that was from US seafood, including shrimp, hake, sole and sardines. The majority of that — $46.4 million — was salmon roe, used for Russian red caviar.

“We did not start this fight, and we hope the Russians will call off their embargo,” said Terry Shaff, president & CEO of Washington-headquartered seafood producer UniSea Inc.

But, he said, “a US ban will signal to President Putin that America will not sit idly by while Russia disregards international law and tries to coerce the world into ignoring its transgressions through retaliatory actions,”

09/19/2014

Segway Inc. Targets Transporters from China

segwayBedford, NH – Segway Inc. has filed a major patent case against imports of personal transporters from a number of Chinese companies in Beijing and Shenzhen.

The company is alleging that the personal transporters from China “infringe its utility and design patents” in a complaint that could, according to one source, lead the International Trade Commission (ITC) to issue a ‘general exclusion order,’ prohibiting not only all personal transporters from China, but from any country, as well.

“This patent case will be a very visible high tech case brought by Segway against Chinese imports of Segway like personal transporters,” said William Perry, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

The company “is also asking the ITC to issue cease and desist orders to prohibit US importers from selling any infringing imports that they brought into the United States,” he said.

Segway is requesting a general exclusion order to exclude all personal transporters from China and other countries and also ‘cease and desist’ orders to stop importers from selling infringing personal transporters in their inventories.

The complaint filed with the ITC lists at least six manufacturers and three distributors that Segway claims are infringing two patents related to the transporter controls, and two for the design of the machines.

The manufacturers named, the complaint says, “intend their products to largely, if not completely, mimic Segway’s personal transporters in operation.”

The manufacturers named in the complaint include Shenzhen Inmotion Technologies Co., Robstep Robot Co. and Ninebot Inc., all of which claim they independently developed their own ‘self-balancing’ transporters without benefit of Segway’s patented technology.

Should Segway win the case, the government could block the competing products made overseas from the US market.

US inventor Dean Kamen introduced the Segway in 2001. His company was eventually acquired by Summit Strategic Investments in 2013.

09/17/2014

‘Emerging Markets’ Attracting US Exporters: Report

exports  doc.govNew York, NY – US businesses are increasingly looking to emerging markets for export growth in both the short and long term, according to the latest HSBC Global Connections Trade Forecast.

Even though US exports are expected to grow by about six percent per year through 2030 and advanced economies will continue to play a dominant role in US trade, the forecast predicts that China and India “present the best trade prospects, with US export growth to average nine percent a year to each country through 2030.”

Additionally, the report said, thirty percent of US business leaders participating in the HSBC Trade Confidence Index Survey (TCI) identified Asia, especially China and India, as the most promising region for business expansion in the next six months, while a quarter favored Latin America, especially Mexico and Brazil.

US Export and Import Forecast

US TCI dipped to 110 from 115 and lower than the global average of 116,” though still well above the neutral benchmark of 100 indicating that the outlook for trade continues to improve although at a slower pace than previously,” the report said.

Sixty percent of US business leaders in the TCI survey expect trade flows to increase, down from 66 percent six months earlier.

Industrial machinery and transport equipment are the key industries driving US export expansion now and into the future, while the top export destinations for the US over the medium term will continue to be Canada, Mexico and China.

However, the report said, Korea and Brazil will displace the slower growing economies of Germany and Japan over the long term to complete the top five US export markets.

Respondents said the biggest areas of opportunity in Asia in the short term are in construction and manufacturing, while in Latin America they are in wholesale and retail.

On the import side, Transport equipment and information, communications and technology equipment will continue to drive US imports.

China, India and Vietnam will be the fastest growing suppliers of US imports. Imports from China will grow by an average of seven percent through 2020, accounting for about one-fifth of all US imports.

The index is an international survey of 5,500 small and middle market businesses engaged in cross-border trade including around 250 in the US.

“Despite near term challenges, there are clearly significant export opportunities in emerging markets and the good news is US businesses are well positioned to take advantage of them, especially as global trade picks up.” said Steve Bottomley, HSBC group general manager, senior executive vice president and head of commercial banking for HSBC in North America.

“A highly educated workforce, well-developed production processes, and innovative technology will help US businesses plug into increased trade flows, while the rise of the emerging market consumer is helping to lift demand,” he said.

US Pharmaceutical and Energy Growth

One US sector that is set to benefit from the increased demand from emerging markets consumers is pharmaceuticals. US pharmaceutical exports are expected to grow by nearly eight percent a year through 2030, outpacing overall export growth for the same period.

This will help the US overtake Germany as the leading exporter of pharmaceutical products by 2030 amongst the 25 countries included in the report.

“Rising global demand for better healthcare, especially in emerging markets, is expected to trigger increased spending on healthcare over the next several years,” said Derrick Ragland, executive vice president and head of US middle market corporate banking, HSBC Bank USA.

“As a global innovator in pharmaceuticals and biologicals, US companies should find it easier to expand into or enter new markets.”

Still, the report notes that healthcare reform and an aging population will drive the US trade deficit for pharmaceuticals goods higher through 2030.

Additionally, to remain competitive, US pharmaceutical companies will need to invest in research and design to promote innovation especially as access to increased supplies of generic products from abroad rises and US patents on many major brand products expire.

Emerging markets, the forecast said, will also be a key focus for US energy trade.

“Rapidly rising production of unconventional oil and gas products domestically will help lift US energy exports by about five percent per year through 2030, while petroleum imports will fall from 12 percent in the near term to seven percent in the long term,” it said.

“Emerging markets that don’t have refining capabilities or don’t dispose of energy reserves could represent a major opportunity for US energy exporters,” said Ragland.

Overall Global Outlook

Globally, trade is expected to grow annually by eight percent beginning in 2016 from 2.5 percent in 2013.

Over the longer term, the forecast shows that global merchandise trade will more than triple by 2030 from 2013 levels, as businesses capitalize on the rise of the emerging market consumer and developing markets stabilize their productivity levels for the future.

The HSBC Trade Forecast, modeled by Oxford Economics, forecasts bilateral trade for total exports/imports of goods, based on HSBC’s own analysis and forecasts of the world economy to generate a full bilateral set of trade flows for total imports and exports of goods, and balances between 180 pairs of countries.

The HSBC Trade Confidence Index covers a total of 23 markets and is the largest trade confidence survey globally. The current survey comprises six-month views of 5550 exporters, importers and traders from small and mid-market enterprises on: trade volumes, risk to suppliers, need and access to trade finance, impact of exchange rates and regulation.

09/16/2014

Carib Energy Granted ‘Small Scale’ LNG Export License

crowleylngJacksonville, FL – Carib Energy LLC has been granted a 20-year, small-scale US Department of Energy (DOE) export license for the supply, transportation and distribution of US-sourced liquefied natural gas (LNG) into several Non-Free Trade Agreement (NTFA) countries in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The licensing permits Carib Energy, a subsidiary of the Crowley Maritime Corp., to export 14.6 billion cubic feet (BCF) of LNG – roughly the equivalent of 480,000 gallons – per day via 10,700 gallon ISO-certified tanks to the specified regions.

Earlier in the year, the company was awarded a multi-year contract to supply containerized, US-sourced LNG to two Coca-Cola bottlers in Puerto Rico.

That contract included supplying and transporting the LNG to the two plants in Cayey and Cidra, Puerto Rico.

The LNG “provides both facilities with substantially lowered emissions, an alternative to their current diesel fuel source, and an uninterrupted fuel supply due to the abundance and availability of US-sourced LNG,” the company said.

The transportation of the LNG for all of the company’s new projects is being managed by Crowley’s in-house logistics team, which coordinates shipment of the 40-foot bulk liquid tank containers carrying the LNG from the company’s shipping terminal at the Port of Jacksonville, Florida.

The containers containing the LNG are ISO-certified and approved by the US Department of Transportation to carry approximately 10,000 gallons of the product.

LNG is natural gas that is cooled to -260° Fahrenheit until it becomes a liquid and then stored at essentially atmospheric pressure.

Converting natural gas to LNG, a process that reduces its volume by about 600 times allows it to be transported. Once delivered to its destination, the LNG is warmed back into its original gaseous state so that it can be used just like existing natural gas supplies.

When returned to its gaseous state, LNG is used across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors for purposes as diverse as heating and cooling homes, cooking, generating electricity and manufacturing paper, metal, glass and other materials.

LNG is not stored under pressure and it is not explosive. LNG vapors – methane – mixed with air are not explosive in an unconfined environment. When exposed to the environment, LNG rapidly evaporates, leaving no residue on water or soil.

Founded in 1892 in San Francisco, the Crowley Maritime Corp. entered the LNG market by acquiring Florida-based Carib Energy LLC last year.

Shortly thereafter, Crowley created a specialized LNG services group to offer supply, transportation, and distribution of LNG services utilizing the certified tank containers.

09/15/2014

Changes Planned for Harmonized Tariff Codes

boxesWashington, DC – International customs officials at the World Customs Organization (WCO) have agreed on 234 changes to the global system that categorizes products that are imported and exported around the world.

In the US, those mandated changes will be implemented by the International Trade Commission – the federal government agency responsible for maintaining and updating the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) product category system utilized by US-based companies involved in global trade.

As a result of the move by the WCO, the agency has said it will make the appropriate recommendations to the White House on the necessary modifications to the HTS.

The US and other countries have until January 1, 2017, to incorporate the changes, “but much work lies ahead,” according to Jim Holbein, director of the ITC office that maintains the HTS.

“The first step for importers and exporters is to become aware of the changes being made at the international level,” he said. “If they believe they will be affected, they will want to stay on top of the process as it moves forward.”

‘Nomenclature analysts’ at the ITC “are analyzing the WCO document” with the ITC expecting to issue proposed recommendations on changes to the HTS by the end of this year, he added.

“At that time, the USITC will seek public comments on the proposed recommendations,” he said. “Detailed information on how to submit comments and related deadlines will be provided at that time.”

The USITC, said Holbein, will consider all public comments, as well as comments from other US government agencies in making its recommendations, which will be submitted to the White House via the Office of the US Trade Representative by July 2015.

Following expiration of a 60-day layover period before Congress, the president has the authority to forward the modifications to the HTS for action. .

The Brussels, Belgium-headquartered World Customs Organization (WCO) was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).

An independent inter-governmental body, it represents 179 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98 percent of world trade.

09/12/2014

Calls Growing to Ease Ban on US Petroleum Exports

WTI-crude-oilWashington, DC – International pressure is growing on Washington from several major trading partners to ease, or end, the long-standing ban on US crude oil exports.

Mexico said recently that it could enter an agreements with the US on crude oil swaps or on direct imports, while one of South Korea’s leading refiners has opened discussions with the government in Seoul over how to encourage Washington to end the ban on ‘ultra-light sweet crude,’ and the European Union wants US oil and natural gas exports covered by the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

 

According to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Mexico’s state-owned oil company, the country is seeking US-sourced oil because of a sharp decline in its own reserves.

 

South Korea, which relies on imports to cover more than 95 percent of its energy needs, has had to curb oil imports from major supplier Iran, due to US and EU sanctions introduced in 2012, and the EU is eagerly looking for an alternative to petroleum supplies from Russia.

 

Japan, while not pushing for an ease on the current ban, has said it’s interested in importing more of what can be pumped out of gushers in such states as Texas, Alaska and North Dakota, but only “if the supplies are economically feasible.”

 

While fully overturning the ban would require Congressional action that most consider unlikely in the near-term, many argue that the White House could gradually allow for more oil to flow abroad through existing means.

 

Due in large part to the increase in shale oil production, the US is soon expected to surpass both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer.

 

In March, the US Department of Commerce approved the export of 500,000 barrels of lightly processed condensate exports to South Korea from two domestic companies. Three additional applications have been put on hold as the White House reviews its policies on the ban.

 

09/11/2014

 

IBM Inks Three Major Technology Deals in China

ibmArmonk, NY – IBM is increasing its footprint in China with three major deals as the global technology giant has been trying to turn around falling revenues there.

The company’s sales in China have reportedly declined 11 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, after tumbling 20 percent in the first three months of the year.

In the largest – and most surprising – deal, IBM has formed a partnership with Inspur Group Ltd. that calls for the Chinese company to install IBM’s database and WebSphere software on its mainframe computers.

The mainframes are reportedly the first ‘high-end’ servers to be wholly developed and produced by a Chinese company.

The partnership has raised some eyebrows as IBM and Inspur have maintained a serious rivalry since May when the Chinese company set out to lure IBM’s customers after a US media report was published claiming that Beijing was studying if domestic banks’ reliance on the US company’s technology threatened national security.

At the same time, IBM has said that Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China Ltd., the largest private insurer in the country, has implemented an IBM Software Defined Storage solution “to help it speed data collection from one month to one hour, dramatically improving its ability to meet new regulatory requirements such as the annual audit and industrial data analysis.”

According to a statement issued by IBM, “With the new virtualized storage environment, Ping An is able to aggregate its growing data volumes in one hour instead of one month and accomplish data migrations easily with just a few instructions. In addition, the solution has delivered fast service times for Ping An’s critical projects.”

IBM also announced that it’s also working with China Telecom Corp. in a three-year agreement to help small- and medium-sized businesses run cloud-based applications, which are stored on remote servers instead of on-site.

Working with China Telecom, IBM said it will “provide integrated and seamless management across all SAP architectures and delivery models so clients can migrate and integrate new applications on the cloud, while maintaining and operating current applications.”

Under the agreement, IBM and China Telecom will first focus on clients in the Guangdong province and then extend the project to such “key areas” as the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Beijing and Tianjin.

09/10/2014

New Jersey Partners with ConnectAmericas.com

accessamericasTrenton, NJ – New Jersey has signed a partnership agreement with ConnectAmericas.com, a new social media platform that connects Latin American and Caribbean enterprises with business opportunities throughout North America.

The move makes New Jersey the first US state to enter into a partnership agreement with ConnectAmericas, an online investment platform that will aim to provide connections and information across borders for Latin American businesses looking to partner in new global markets.

ConnectAmericas was developed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD) with the support of globally renowned companies such as Google, DHL, Visa and Alibaba.

The online ecosystem works to promote international commerce by providing contacts, industry-specific information and financing options for Latin American and Caribbean companies looking to expand their markets.

“This partnership will serve as a facilitator in strengthening economic ties with Latin America and the Caribbean – particularly with Mexico. As New Jersey’s second largest trading partner already, we know that expanding that relationship, and building new ties with others in the region, is incredibly important for our economy moving forward,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The agreement, he said, “will result in greater opportunities to work together by increasing access to information as we conduct business and work on economic issues among our countries.”

The announcement was made in conjunction with IBD representative Mercedes Rosalba Araoz Fernandez at the recent “Invest in New Jersey” symposium in Mexico City, Mexico.

Sponsored by Choose New Jersey, the state’s domestic and international economic development agency, the symposium included a keynote address by Governor Christie and industry round tables led by a team New Jersey business leaders.

09/09/2014

 

Bayer CropScience Opens New US Research Center

Bayer CropScience LaboratoryWest Sacramento, CA – Bayer CropScience has opened a new research and development facility in West Sacramento, California to support the company’s work in developing improved seeds and crop protection products.

According to the Germany-based company, the new $80 million facility, which will serve as the global headquarters of Bayer CropScience’s Biologics Business, is situated on 10 acres of land and features a 100,000-square-foot building and a 35,000-square-foot pilot plant to support research and development of biological crop protection products.

In addition, a 30,000-square-foot vegetable seeds research building and a 2,000-square-foot greenhouse will be on-site with five acres of nearby land for future greenhouse space.

“We are investing heavily in R&D infrastructure such as laboratories, greenhouses and breeding stations as well as new production capacities and seed processing facilities,” said Bayer CropScience CEO Liam Condon, adding that the company aims to grow faster than the US market.

Bayer CropScience plans to invest close to $1 billion in capital expenditures (CAPEX) in the US States over the next several years, mainly to ramp up research and development and to expand a world-class product supply of its top crop protection brands.

In addition to building its R&D network in the US, the company is also investing significantly in the production capacities of the facilities manufacturing its crop protection products.

The company has expanded the capacity of its facilities in Muskegon, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri, and recently completed the construction of a new plant in Mobile, Alabama to produce its agricultural-grade ‘Liberty’ weed killer.

Bayer CropScience also invested $17 million in the expansion of its Memphis Research and Development site, bringing total greenhouse capacity at the facility to 76,000 square feet.

Located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the Memphis facility works on developing high quality cotton and soybean varieties, as well as trait innovations.

In June 2014, the company announced plans to expand its North American and global seeds headquarters in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina.

The RTP site has experienced significant operational growth in recent years, and approximately $200 million will be invested through 2016.

The company also plans to invest approximately $90 million in its Cotton Research and Development Laboratory in Lubbock, Texas.

Founded in 1998, the company’s global cotton headquarters is focused on providing cotton growers with the products and solutions they need to meet the world’s growing demand for fiber.

According to a statement from Bayer CropScience, its overall RTP investment program in the US includes several additional projects – the construction of the Development North America facility dedicated to crop protection and environmental science research; renovations to its North American headquarters; construction of a 6,000 square-foot North American Bee Care Center; and the purchase of 70 acres of land to accommodate a new 29,500 square-foot greenhouse.

09/08/2014

Norwegian Air Denied Temporary US Service Application

naiWashington, DC – The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has rejected a ‘procedural application’ from discount air carrier Norwegian Air International (NAI) to temporarily operate in the US.

The decision is seen as a victory for US air carriers and their unions, which had vocally opposed the application, but the DOT said that while the temporary bid had been rejected, the agency would continue to “review the extensive record and deliberate on the application for longer-term operating authority.”

According to aviation industry analysts, the final determination by DOT probably won’t be announced until after the November mid-term elections.

Norwegian Air’s campaign to enter the US market became a magnet for opposition, not only from domestic US air carriers and their employee unions, but from a broad coalition of lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill.

More than 40 senators and 100 House members signed letters expressing their “concerns” about the deal with the House recently passing an amendment to the 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill in an effort to derail the airline’s efforts.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which has labeled NAI as “the wolf at the door,” praised the DOT’s decision, saying that, “The US Department of Transportation took an important stand for fair competition today by denying Norwegian Air International’s request for temporary authorization to fly to and from the United States.”

NAI – which is certified in Ireland and hires its pilots from Singapore – has said that the opposition to its application is protectionism, driven by the major airlines who control more than three-quarters of the highly profitable transatlantic market.

On the company’s existing US routes operated under a separate company called Norwegian Long Haul, tickets are, according to several sources, often more than $100 cheaper than the closest competitors’ fares.

NAI said in a statement it still expected to win final approval from DOT, but it was disappointed with the ruling.

“While we think it is unfortunate that DOT feels the need to further delay issuance of our permit, which has been pending now for over six months, Norwegian Air International stands behind its business — from its pilots and cabin crew to its affordable fare model to its desire to bring competition to the transatlantic market — and looks forward to receiving approval to operate without further delay,” said NAI CEO Asgeir Nyseth.

09/05/2014