USTR Tai To Put Fighting Climate Change at Centre of U.S. Trade Policy

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday laid out her vision for using trade policy to protect the planet and combat climate change, and said the United States must be a leader in preventing a catastrophic environmental chain reaction.

President Joe Biden’s top trade negotiator said U.S. climate protection efforts should not lead to the export of polluting industries to countries with lower standards, and comprehensive, global action was the only solution to meet such challenges.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Center for American Progress, Tai said the World Trade Organization needed new rules to address the current corporate incentives that had resulted in a “race to the bottom” that put countries with higher environmental standards at a competitive disadvantage.

“The science indicates that, the window of opportunity to prevent a catastrophic environmental chain reaction on our planet is closing fast. And the United States must be a leader in the collective effort to work toward a global solution,” Tai said.

Katherine C. Tai addresses the Senate Finance committee hearings to examine her nomination to be United States Trade Representative, with the rank of ambassador, in Washington, DC February 25, 2021. Bill O’Leary/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday laid out her vision for using trade policy to protect the planet and combat climate change, and said the United States must be a leader in preventing a catastrophic environmental chain reaction.

President Joe Biden’s top trade negotiator said U.S. climate protection efforts should not lead to the export of polluting industries to countries with lower standards, and comprehensive, global action was the only solution to meet such challenges.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Center for American Progress, Tai said the World Trade Organization needed new rules to address the current corporate incentives that had resulted in a “race to the bottom” that put countries with higher environmental standards at a competitive disadvantage.

“The science indicates that, the window of opportunity to prevent a catastrophic environmental chain reaction on our planet is closing fast. And the United States must be a leader in the collective effort to work toward a global solution,” Tai said.

Tai’s speech comes a week before Biden convenes world leaders for a summit on climate change, and signals a shift to more aggressive efforts by Washington to promote energy-efficient and low-emissions technologies.

She highlighted the need to develop environmental technologies, goods and services, as well as strategic supply chains to ensure the transition away from fossil fuels.

That would require pushing for bold reforms that ensured clean energy use throughout the supply chain, she said. New global agreements to end illegal logging and address overfishing were also needed, she said.

Tai also vowed to rigorously enforce a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that took effect in July, saying it contained the most comprehensive environmental standards of any U.S. or global trade accord, although she acknowledged that its failure to explicitly acknowledge climate change was a “glaring omission”.

(Source: Reuters)

Unresolved Labour Dispute at Port of Montreal Causing Widespread Uncertainty Across Supply Chains

With no definitive resolution to labour dispute issues at the Port of Montreal, a climate of uncertainty is causing the shipping industry to divert vessels to provide a minimum of reliability despite the added delays and costs, according to Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority.

The potential for escalation will increase the diversions, causing the port to results that pale in comparison with those of its competitors on the U.S. East Coast, who are enjoying significant growth. The tense situation of labour relations at the port significantly affects the reliability of port operations. The reduced scope of scheduled work will generate delays and additional costs for clients.

The labour dispute, which has lasted more than two years, largely revolves around work schedules according to the Longshoremen’s union representative, Michel Murray. At a press conference on Monday, he told reporters that employees want a schedule that better reflects the work and family life balance.

The Port of Montreal handles more than $275 million a day of merchandise. But volume dropped by 11% in March, and its capacity could be reduced to 30%, according to Imbleau.

“I don’t want to be dramatic but it’s delays, costs and further uncertainty which brings additional delays and costs. So basically, it’s the food chain in general that’s being affected.”

Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority

Presently, the employees are refusing to work on weekends as well as work overtime. A strike has not yet been called, but many in the industry feel is imminent.

Montreal business leaders are now calling on the federal government to intervene, demanding back-to-work legislation be adopted.

Carson clients are encouraged to reach out early to schedule shipments, as we navigate the uncertainty at the Port. We will continue to monitor the port labour situation daily and share our findings as the situation evolves.

(Source: Global News)

U.S. Adds Seven Chinese Supercomputing Entities to Export-Ban List

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security has added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to the Entity List for conducting activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.

The final rule adds the following entities to the Entity List: Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou. These entities are involved with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo released the following statement:

“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons. The Department of Commerce will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging U.S. technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts.”

These entities meet the criteria for inclusion on the Entity List listed under Section 744.11 of the Export Administration Regulations.

The Entity List is a tool utilized by BIS to restrict the export, re-export, and in-country transfer of items subject to the EAR to persons (individuals, organizations, companies) reasonably believed to be involved, have been involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. Additional license requirements apply to exports, re-exports, and in-country transfers of items subject to the EAR to listed entities, and the availability of most license exceptions is limited.

For more information, visit www.bis.doc.gov.

Massive Opium Bust at Port of Vancouver

Police officers and and border officers have seized nearly $8 million worth of opium from shipping containers at the Port of Vancouver. Prior to the seizure, police swapped out the opium from the two containers before tracking decoy shipment to its destination where they arrested five suspects.

Authorities disclosed the operation on Monday, more than six weeks after the February 11th opium bust at Vancouver’s Deltaport — the largest container terminal in Canada. There, officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Federal Serious and  Organized Crime unit and Canada Border Services Agency served a warrant on two shipping containers that had arrived from overseas.

Officers found 2,500 packages of suspected opium weighing a combined 2,204 pounds, the RCMP and CBSA said in statements. The CA$10 million ($7.9 million) bust represented one of the largest opium seizures recorded by the CBSA.

Officers seized the drugs and replaced it with a placebo to allow the probe to continue “without further risk to Canadians.”

With the opium swapped out, officers followed the shipment as it was transported to a warehouse in nearby Surrey, British Columbia.

(Source: Freight Waves)

USTR Proposes Additional 25 Percent Tariffs on Imports from Six Countries

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has issued lists of products from six countries that may be subject to additional 25 percent tariffs. The proposed product lists identified by USTR are designed to offset digital services taxes imposed by Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom, and that USTR has determined violate Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

The initial Section 301 action was brought against 10 countries, however, USTR also announced it was formally terminating cases against Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union and Indonesia because these countries had not implemented or adopted any digital service taxes.

USTR’s announcement did not address a separate Section 301 digital services action brought against France, covering $1.3 billion worth of French goods that was suspended by the previous administration.

For the cases going forward, each of USTR’s notices requests comments and information from parties on whether action is appropriate, and if so, the appropriate action to be taken.

USTR will hold a hearing regarding the proposed remedy for each of the six subject countries, as well as a “multi-jurisdictional” hearing for issues that concern more than one country.  Requests to appear at each hearing (including a summary of the testimony to be given) must be submitted to USTR by April 21, 2021, and written submissions must be submitted by April 30, 2021.

Among the products identified on USTR’s six lists are seafood, children’s clothing, jewellery, and certain furniture items. 

USTR’s federal register notices, and prior relevant documents concerning the agency’s investigations, are available at the agency’s website

(Source: U.S. Trade Monitor)

Survey: Port of Montreal Canadian Industry Input

The Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters (IE Canada) is requesting information regarding companies diverting to other ports in order to estimate the total dollar/qty impact. If members are diverting to other ports and wish to participate in a survey it is located here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T2HFBQF 

The information is being collected by Electro Federation Canada ( Association representing electronics, electrical and lighting manufacturers and distributors ). 

If there are any insights you would like to share with IE Canada regarding the situation at the Port of Montreal, please reach out to info@iecanada.com.

Liners Begin Warning of Port of Montreal Diversions

Container line Hapag-Lloyd this morning has warned customers that it may begin diverting vessels away from call at the Port of Montreal if the labour situation deteriorates.

In an email, the company said: “With the risk of potential industrial action at the Port of Montreal, we expect that terminal performance in the port will be severely impacted…. As the situation develops, it may prove necessary to divert vessels.”

Hapag-Lloyd also notified shippers of the additional charges for moving  containers by rail to or from the alternate ports of call, Saint John, New Brunswick, or Halifax, Nova Scotia in the event of a diversion.

On the weekend, the Port of Montreal’s longshore union voted almost unanimously to reject the contract offer from the Maritime Employers Association. This has caused many in the industry to become fearful of strike action.

The labour dispute has been ongoing since workers went on strike for 12 days in August 2020. A truce deal expired March 20, 2021.

During the work stoppage at least eight container ships were diverted to ports in Halifax, Saint John, N.B., and New York City, affecting thousands of importers and exporters and halting most of the 2,500 trucks that roll in and out of the port daily.

The longshore workers, who have been without a contract since September 2018, say the strike that began Aug. 10, 2020 revolved largely around wages and scheduling.

(Source: Inside Logistics)

Cargo Ship Blocking Suez Canal Now Moving

After a week of disruption, the Suez Canal is preparing to reopen after Ever Given finally gets under way.

The ship that has been blocking Suez Canal transits appears to have finally been pulled clear of the bank side and is now in mid channel.

The 20,000 teu Ever Given appears to be in the middle of the canal with its heading now showing it pointing north and making 0.5 kts over ground.

A statement from Evergreen, the vessel’s charter, said the ships would be repositioned to the Great Bitter Lake in the Canal for an inspection of its seaworthiness.

“The outcome of that inspection will determine whether the ship can resume its scheduled service,” Evergreen said. “Once the inspection is finalized, decisions will be made regarding arrangements for cargo currently on board.”

Evergreen added that it would coordinate with the vessel’s owner to deal with “subsequent matters” after the shipowner and other concerned parties complete investigation reports into the incident.

BSM, Ever Given’s technical manager, also confirmed that the vessel was safely refloated at approximately 1500 hrs local time.

German container line Hapag-Lloyd said that now the vessel was underway to the Great Bitter Lake for inspection and repair, it expected transits to start later this evening.

“It is still not clear if any vessels might be prioritized for passage,” Hapag-Lloyd said in a customer advisory. “The current backlog should be cleared within four days.”

Ever Given had been blocking the Suez Canal since March 23.

According to vessel-tracking data, 372 vessels were stalled waiting to transit the Suez Canal on Sunday. A total of 80 containerships were still waiting, but diversions of container traffic for the Asia-EU and EU-Asia trades started accelerating over the weekend, with dozens of vessels now starting to reroute.

(Source: Lloyd’s List)

Ship Stuck in Suez Canal Disrupting Daily Flow of Nearly $10B of Goods

ship

The ship the length of four football fields that’s wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal is bottlenecking global trade routes for a third day as at least 150 other vessels needing to pass through the crucial waterway are sitting idle, waiting for the obstruction to clear.

The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. In the time since, efforts to free the ship using dredgers, digging and the aid of high tides have yet to push the container vessel aside — affecting billions of dollars’ worth of cargo.

Famed London-based shipping journal Lloyd’s List estimates each day the Suez Canal is closed disrupts over $9 billion US worth of goods that should be passing through the waterway.

So far, dredgers have tried to clear silt around the massive ship. Tug boats nudged the vessel alongside it, trying to gain momentum. From the shore, at least one backhoe dug into the canal’s sandy banks, suggesting the bow of the ship had plowed into it. However, satellite photos taken Thursday by Planet Labs Inc. and analyzed by The Associated Press showed the vessel still stuck in the same location.

Canal service provider Leth Agencies said at least 150 ships were waiting for the Ever Given to be cleared, including vessels near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea and those already stuck in the canal system on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.

Cargo ships already behind the Ever Given in the canal will be reversed south back to Port Suez to free the channel, Leth Agencies said. Authorities hope to do the same to the Ever Given when they can free it.

The closure of the trade lane could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Mideast, which rely on the canal to avoid sailing around Africa. The price of international benchmark Brent crude stood at over $63 a barrel Thursday.

(Source: CBC News)

Uyghur Forced Labour Bill Could Pass in April, Lobbyist Says

cotton

The Senate and House versions of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act have diverged fairly substantially and the law seems likely to ultimately be closer to the Senate approach, said Ray Bucheger, a lobbyist at FBB Federal Relations. The House bill is more punitive, including a requirement for CBP to name and shame importers whose goods are detained. The Senate bill requires public comment and a public hearing open to importers before establishing a strategy to prevent the importation of goods made with forced labour. Part of that process is expected to produce guidance to importers, and there will still be a rebuttable presumption that goods from China’s Xinjiang region were made with forced labour, but if importers implemented the guidance, that would change the burden of proof, according to Bucheger.

Bucheger, who was speaking March 18 to a Coalition of New England Companies for Trade audience, said that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is looking to assemble a package of China legislation to move as soon as April, and that a forced labour bill could be one plank of it. “The political attention to this issue of forced labour is only going to grow,” Bucheger said. He said that while the House version of the bill was largely unchanged when it was reintroduced, the Senate version’s updates “better reflect reality, which is companies are actively working to decouple their supply chains from Xinjiang.”

The moderator described the Senate bill as one that would give importers more time to get their houses in order, and Bucheger said that’s also appropriate, given that new tools that would allow tracking of inputs in the supply chain are being developed.

Therese Randazzo, director of the forced labour division in the trade remedy and law enforcement directorate at CBP, said that while the agency is exploring whether there are technologies that could pinpoint the presence of cotton grown in Xinjiang, for instance, there isn’t yet a technology that companies could use to learn where all the cotton in their garments came from. “We wish there was a silver bullet as much as you do. It is resource-intensive on both sides.”

Bucheger said that Congress appropriated an additional $8 million for forced labour enforcement at  CBP in this fiscal year, and he thinks members will “push for an even bigger increase this year.”

(Source: International Trade Today)