What We're Reading: Trendwatch Week 51

At last minute, China suspends tariffs on some U.S. products

On Dec. 15,  the same day Chinese tariffs were set to kick in on some U.S. goods, China agreed to suspend those levies, according to media reports.

The suspension covers tariffs on products including corn and U.S.-made cars and auto parts, Reuters reported.

The last-minute suspension came two days after the two countries agreed to a Phase I deal that would ease the trade war that has roiled markets for the past 18 months.

Source: FreightWaves


Trump cancels Dec. 15 China tariffs

The cancellation of list 4B tariffs was highly anticipated, given its timing close to the holiday season and the large number of consumer goods the list targeted. 

Still, the uncertainty drove businesses to continue planning for a worst-case scenario and adjust supply chains and imports accordingly. 

Data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates showed a significant bump at container ports in November as retailers and manufacturers increased imports ahead of the anticipated tariffs. "While final numbers are not yet available, estimates indicate that November jumped to 1.95 million TEU, up 8 percent year-over-year," NRF wrote. 

Source: Freight Waves


Planning for IMO 2020: The cost of non-compliance

On Jan. 1, 2020, the new International Maritime Organization’s regulation—dubbed “IMO 2020”— requiring sulfur reduction in fuels from 3.5% to 0.5% will go into effect. The regulation stipulates that oceangoing vessels must use either a cleaner bunker fuel, have on-board gas stack scrubbers to clean the higher sulfur fuel or use an alternative marine fuel such as LPG, LNG or methanol. With the regulation comes the need for inspections and enforcement to give the new rule “teeth” and force compliance.

Source: Supply Chain Dive 


Canada, Mexico and US agree on revised USMCA

State representatives of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. signed a revised version of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in Mexico City on Tuesday, containing enhanced labor, environmental and pharmaceutical enforcement protections called for by congressional Democrats.

The USMCA must be ratified by the U.S. Congress before it can go into force. Once the Trump administration formally submits the deal for a vote, a move that has not yet been announced, legislators will have a 90-day window to approve the deal.

Source: Supply Chain Dive


More confusion ahead for lithium battery shippers

Shippers of lithium batteries will face a new hurdle from 1 January, thanks to new transport regulations.

The United Nations’ Committee of Experts, which creates the framework for dangerous goods regulations,  has introduced a requirement which obliges manufacturers, and distributors of cells or batteries, to make available the test summary for their products.

Source: The Loadstar


OK, Brexit ahead: now tell us how we keep cross-border goods moving, says UK freight

Freight industry bodies want the UK government to deliver details of its Brexit intentions, following the landside Conservative victory in the general election yesterday.

Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA) said his members would be looking for the new government to deliver on its promises on the withdrawal agreement with the EU and any future trade deal.

Source: Supply Chain Dive


Ports of Auckland declared “no longer economically or environmentally viable”

The long-running saga over the future of Ports of Auckland as an inner-city cargo port has reached an important point with NZ’s coalition government agreeing “that freight operations on prime land in downtown Auckland are no longer viable”. Ministry officials have been instructed to prepare plans to facilitate moving cargo operations elsewhere for the government to consider in early 2020. The decision was made after considering the final report of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group.

Source: World Cargo News