National News

Own container handling record surpassed by Chennai Port

CHENNAI: Chennai Port has bettered its own record for container handling. About 15.70 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) as on March 21 cargo has been handled by the East Coast’s gateway port 10 days ahead of the fiscal closure. The previous record, which was achieved in 2015-16 was for 15.65 lakh TEUs. There are two private container terminals in Chennai Port— Chennai International Terminals Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of PSA International, Singapore, and Chennai Container Terminal Pvt Ltd of DP World, Dubai. The port serves Chennai, Special Economic Zones around the city, Bengaluru, Southern Andhra Pradesh and parts of Southern Tamil Nadu and it handles around 1.5 mn TEUs a year. Chennai port transships nearly 50 % of the container traffic to ports in South-East Asia.

Online facility to obtain export license for restricted items introduced by Commerce Ministry

NEW DELHI: In a move aimed at promoting paperless work and Ease of Doing Business, the Commerce Ministry has introduced an online system for exporters to obtain export license for restricted category goods. “It has been decided that applications by exporters will be filed online on E-COM module for export authorizations. The consultation process with Administrative Departments will also be online,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an arm of the Ministry, has said in a recent trade notice. The notice came into effect from March 19 this year.Certain restricted category goods such as bio-fuels need exporters to obtain license from the Government. Currently procedure is done manually, application for export of such goods in hard copy and the consultation with the concerned agencies. The aim of the move is simplifying application filing, and expediting the processing and issuance of export authorization. An official said that this development will help in promoting ease of doing business for such imports. In the online application process, certain documents such as copy of purchase order of firm involved in the export and Aayat Niryat Form will have to be uploaded by exporters. “No hard copy of the application and documents is required to be submitted to DGFT,” it said, adding that as a transition arrangement, applications shall be accepted off-line also till March 31. “From April 1, 2019 it is mandatory to apply online only,” it added.“This is a welcome development according to the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Ganesh Kumar Gupta and it will also help exporters to cut transactions cost. “We need more such steps to promote the country’s exports,” he said. The Directorate has also come up with a new online facility for obtaining import license for restricted category goods recently. India’s ranking improved to 77th rank in 2018 out of 190 nations from 100th earlier, in the latest Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank. These rankings are based on 10 parameters, which include trade across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. In 2017, in the parameter of ‘Trading across Borders’, India’s rank improved to 80th in 2018 from 146th rank. The country’s exports grew 8.85 % to USD 298.47 bn, while imports rose by 9.75 % to USD 464 bn during April-February 2018-19.

Two more months for withdrawal of GSP export benefits from US sought by India

NEW DELHI: Sources say India is seeking extension of the deadline set by the US for withdrawal of export benefits to domestic exporters under Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The US has decided to go ahead with its decision to scrap the preferential trade benefit under GSP scheme after 60 days, earlier this month, which is expected to impact India’s exports to the US worth USD5.6 bn under this scheme.Small and medium exporters have flagged concerns even though, the Government has said that the US Government’s move to withdraw duty concessions on certain products under the GSP program will not have any significant impact on exports to America. Sources also said that bilateral dialogues can sort issues as the US is important economic and strategic partner of India. They added that India may seek two more months for withdrawal of export benefits.Significant impact on exports to America said the Commerce Ministry due to the US move as benefits were only about USD190 mn annually. India exported goods worth USD5.6 bn under GSP last year, but India’s total GSP benefits were to the tune of only USD190 mn. GSP benefits are envisaged as non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory to be extended by developed countries to developing economies.

Importers, exporters of Bulk Cargo attracted due to VOC Port revises rates

TUTICORIN: Recently meetings were held by the VOC Port Trust with various stakeholders in Mumbai and Chennai in order to woo importers and exporters of bulk cargo and mainline vessel operators.While a host of country heads of major container shipping Lines participated during a network meeting in Mumbai, major importers and exporters handling coal, limestone, cement, petroleum products, edible oil, sugar, fertilizer, windmill blades and other general cargo participated in an interactive session held in Chennai. The revision in scale of rates such as removal of anchorage fees, voyage cancellation charges, shifting charges, weekly rental for coal and implementation of flat rate rentals for coal storage, which the traders were informed of. Labour charges have also been reduced to Rs. 30 per tonne from Rs. 70, while vessel-related charges for big size vessels beyond 30,000 GRT (gross register tonnage) have been brought down.Moreover, for specific customers who offer guaranteed volume, volume-based discounts are in the offing.Confidence that the port would be developed into a major transshipment hub and a leading logistics hub of South India was exuded by Chairman T. K. Ramachandran. As part of the development plan to make the port a transshipment hub, besides increasing the draft to 14.5m from 14.2 m, Berth No. 9 and 10 would be converted into container terminals in the first phase. In phase-II, the draft would further be increased to 15.5m, and a container quay with a length of over 1,000m and 18m draft has been planned in phase-III to attract latest generation mainline vessels to handle transshipment and gateway cargo.A Coastal Employment Unit would be set up to promote port-based industries while the draft at NCB-I, NCB-II, Coal Jetty-I, Coal Jetty-II, Berth No.8 and 9 would be increased to 14.5m in two months. On March 15, the port crossed 7 lakh TEUs and is expected to handle 1 mn TEUs by the end of next financial year.

Rise in imports of vegetable oil

Mumbai: Compared to a year earlier, palm oil imports in February 2019 dropped 1.1 % to 751,703 tons, while soya bean oil imports surged 65 % to 2,20,376 tons. Sunflower oil imports eased 3.7 % to 2,00,358 tons, according to the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA). Import of vegetable oils during February 2019 stood at 12,42,533 tons against 11,57,044 tons in February 2018, comprising 1,182,062 tons of edible oils and 60,471 tons of non-edible oils, up 7.4 %.The overall import of vegetable oils during November 2018-February 2019 was 4,862,849 tons, against 4,785,778 tons, an increase of 1.61 %, reports said.

Time till June 30 to install radiation monitors to Indian Ports

NEW DELHI: For the third time The Commerce Ministry has extended the deadline till June 30 for 14 sea ports, including JNPT, Deendayal, Mumbai, Tuticorin and Visakhapatnam, to install radiation portal monitors and container scanners.The Ministry also said that with effect from July 1, the ports that will fail to meet the deadline will be de-recognized for the purpose of import of un-shredded metallic scrap.

Commerce Secretary: India working on strategy to boost Indo-African trade

NEW DELHI: A comprehensive strategy to boost India-Africa bilateral trade, which stood at USD63 bn in FY18 as opposed to USD52 bn in FY17 is being worked on by the Government. This was revealed by Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan on the sidelines of the 14th CII-Export-Import Bank of India Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership in the capital recently. If current growth rates are to continue, Citing facts on Africa’s GDP being over USD2 trillion in 2017 and estimated to reach USD29 trillion by 2050, Wadhawan added that as per the World Bank, most African countries are expected to reach middle-income status by 2025. “It is extremely heartening to see that both India and several African countries have maintained high economic growth rate over the last two decades and today even as the global economy is faced with several debilitating trends, our two regions are seen as bright spots on the world map,” he said exuberantly. According to CII, India’s key export in April-February 2016-2017 to Africa were petroleum products, which was around 17 % of the total. Other major export items included pharmaceutical products, vehicles other than railway or tramway, machinery and equipment and cereals.Petroleum products dominated India’s import basket in April-February 2016-17, with a significant share of 52 % of India’s total imports from Africa among the key imports from Africa to India. Other major import items include gems and jewelry, edible fruit and nuts, inorganic chemicals and organic/inorganic compounds, and copper and articles.

Q4 merchandise exports forecast to grow 7.7 pc

Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has forecast India’s merchandise exports to witness a growth rate of 7.7 % (increasing from USD 80.6 bn to USD 86.8 bn) and non-oil exports to witness a growth rate of 5.1 % (increasing from USD 70 bn to USD 73.6 bn) during the fourth quarter of 2018-19, viz. January-March 2019, over the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The forecasts are based on Exim Bank’s Export Leading Index (ELI), which continued to show a positive growth momentum. A standing technical committee of domain experts comprising Prof. Saikat Sinha Roy, Professor and Coordinator, Centre for Advanced Studies, Department of Economics, Jadavpur University, Kolkata; Dr Sarat Dhal, Director, Department of Economic and Policy Research, Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai; Prof. N. R. Bhanumurthy, Professor, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), New Delhi; and Prof. C. Veeramani, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai has reviewed the model and the forecast results.Exim Bank has developed an in-house model to generate an Export Leading Index for India to track and forecast the movement in India’s exports on a quarterly basis as part of its continued research initiatives. Essentially developed as a leading indicator to forecast growth in total merchandise and non-oil exports of the country, on a quarterly basis, based on several external and domestic factors that could impact exports of the country, the ELI gauges the outlook for the country’s exports. said a release.

Record freight traffic volume registered: South Central Railway

KOLKATA: The highest-ever freight traffic business this far has been registered by the South Central Railway (SCR). The freight loading in the current financial year as on March 18, 2019 was at 117.16 mn tons. Previously, the zone had set a recorded in freight loading at 116.80 mn tons in 2014-15.“The best ever freight traffic record of SCR’s achievement has been possible to a significant extent on account of the heavy rise in demand for coal from power houses in the region,’’ SCR said in a release. Among others, the transport of coal to various destinations for Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL), handling of freight loads to and from the Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd (KPCL) located in South Coastal Andhra Pradesh, were instrumental in achieving higher freight traffic business by SCR.Similarly, in the current fiscal, around 27 mn tons of cement has been transported by the zone. Other commodities transported include fertilisers, imported iron ore, food grains and raw material for steel plants. The container traffic, petroleum oil lubricants and other goods also contributed to freight business. The freight earnings of the zone rose to Rs. 10,745 crore in the current fiscal 2018-19 till March 18, 2019 as against Rs. 8,331 crore during 2017-18.

Online facility to obtain import license for restricted items to enhance EODB unveiled by DGFT

NEW DELHI: In a move aimed at promoting paperless work and Ease of Doing Business, the Commerce Ministry’s foreign trade arm DGFT has come up with a new online facility for obtaining import license for restricted category goods.For certain goods such as gold ore, some pulses, plastic waste, and bio-fuels, currently, importers need to obtain license. “Online application format for obtaining import license for restricted items is notified,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a public notice.An official said this development would help in promoting the ease of doing business for such imports. Importers would have to provide information such as Import-Export Code,total CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value of consignment and details of imported items in the online application.India improved its ranking to 77th rank in 2018 out of 190 nations from 100th earlier as per the latest Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank. There are 10 parameters involved in these rankings which are based on which include trade across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.In the parameter of ‘Trading across Borders’, India’s rank improved to the 80th in 2018 from 146th rank in 2017. During April-February 2018-19, the country’s imports grew 9.75 % to USD 464 bn.

FIEO: At a 9 month high rupee to impact exports, high volatilities to be managed

NEW DELHI: Mr. Ganesh Kumar Gupta, President, FIEO, said turnaround in political sentiments, FPI flows coupled with the expected large inflows from rights issues and the merger and acquisition deals, reduced geo-political tensions, stabilization in oil prices have driven the rupee appreciation to a 9-months high and the rupee could stay strong, as the flows continue. The RBIs decision for a currency swap to infuse rupee liquidity, observed FIEO Chief, is expected to bring down hedging cost, prompting inflows in the short end of the corporate debt thus augmenting the supply. Causing concern both amongst the exporters as well as importers as uncertainty in the exchange rate such sharp appreciation is driving volatility. Exporters who have contracted at Rs 74 to a Dollar tend to incur huge losses as they could not hedge it, due to non -availability of limit by the banks. Similarly those who imported at Rs 74 to Dollar few months back, will now get Rs 68-69 upon exports resulting in setback to them said Mr. Gupta.For the exporters who are struggling with contraction in global demand, liquidity challenge at the domestic turf and fierce competition from other competing currencies, this is a new and additional challenge faced by said Mr Gupta, in addition to the informal withdrawal of MEIS to apparel and made-ups. Since pegging is not possible, he urged that extreme volatilities should be managed through interventions so that the exchange rate continues to provide requisite competitiveness to Indian exports since rupee is nowhere near its real effective exchange rate. In the given situation, rupee is set to appreciate further giving a jolt to our export efforts and therefore, it should be ensured that rupee remains near 70 to a dollar, said President, FIEO.

Encouraging responses receive Kottayam to Kochi barge services

COCHIN: The container barge service between Kottayam Port, ICD and Cochin Port through national waterways, launched recently, is getting encouraging responses from stakeholders.Commencement of the barge service is an important step towards de-congestion of roads and providing an alternate and efficient mode of transport for the Export-Import and domestic trade in Kerala, according to the terminal operator DP World Cochin. The container terminal at Vallarpadam now has the distinction of road, rail and waterway connectivity by barge.There is immense potential to be an alternative means of transportation in India‘s large inland waterways network. The country and the environment, will benefit largely by leveraging this network boost trade by reducing cost of transportation and increasing market accessibility for customers, it said.ICTT at Vallarpadam has received the third service and the promoters of the barge service have plans to make it a daily service in the near future from the current voyage of every three days. Between ICTT Cochin and Kottayam Port & ICD, a regular service is expected to benefit the importers and exporters by way of reduced haulage for the last and first mile connectivity.

Trade pacts are a must to achieve farm export targets

MUMBAI: Agriculture expert Ian Coxhead, Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison said India will need a start re-engaging with regional and global trade blocks over the next few years, to achieve its farm-export target of USD100 bn.Over the following years India plans to double farm exports by 2022 from the current level of USD30 bn and subsequently increase exports to USD100 bn.Terming the export target ‘ambitious’, Coxhead said India needs to make a commitment to re-engage with regional and global trade blocks while addressing distortions in its trade policy and supply chain inefficiencies, mainly the cold chain, to succeed with its farm exports.To diversify the export basket incentives are being handed out, while more than two-thirds of India’s farm exports are from rice and animal products.
Challenges, opportunities

According to Coxhead India’s domestic policy has a strong consumer bias and is anti-trade. Also, the country’s agri-policy’s primary objective is addressing food security. As a result Coxhead said, it has the unfortunate side effect of discouraging production for exports.
Though the on-going trade war between the US and China, and the exit of Britain from Europe, may benefit India, the deteriorating global trade relations due to it faces headwinds as it is not a cost-efficient producer, Coxhead observed.

Despite ongoing Brexit uncertainty freight forwarders remain ahead of the curve

Whilst to try again to make the case for its Brexit compromise, the UK government keeps working, pushing and grinding on and MPs carry on hunting, and arguing for alternatives that could take the place of that compromise if it ultimately fails, the British International Freight Association (BIFA) is advising its members to continue preparing for a no-deal departure on March 29th, until further clarity is obtained. That this has been the advice of the trade association for freight forwarders’ for several weeks said Robert Keen, BIFA’s Director General. Keen says, “Confusion reigns and with less than a fortnight to go before Brexit, no proposal is off the table and some suggest that a ‘no deal’ exit can happen because last week’s vote was advisory. “A no-deal departure would be very disruptive and damaging for the UK economy as a whole, but freight forwarders – many of whom are Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accredited – would play a key role in tidying up the mess left by the politicians by ensuring UK importers and exporters can continue trading with the rest of Europe as best as possible after March 29. “I am pleased to report that BIFA members are ahead of the curve and planning for every eventuality, with their trade association trying to make sure it gets relevant information to its members following the release of that information from the various UK government departments.
“BIFA’s executive management has engaged with various government departments over the last two years regarding the issues that affect the movement of visible trade post March 29th, in order to provide our members with advice on those discussions whenever procedures are finalised.“Our members have also been discussing the possible impacts with their clients. Large and small, BIFA members have taken actions to review all options to overcome the disorder that a no-deal Brexit could bring to international trade in order to define sustainable solutions as the set of Brexit conditions becomes clearer.“One thing is certain, our members are ready, willing and able to clear up any mess regarding the movement of freight into and from the UK, created by politicians.”

IGST, compensation CESS exemption under various export promotion plans extended by the Govt

NEW DELHI:The Government has extended IGST (Integrated Goods and Service Tax) and compensation CESS exemptions for goods procurement under certain export promotion schemes till March 2020, giving relief to exporters. Under export oriented unit (EOU) scheme, Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme and advance authorisation, these exemptions have been extended for exporters buying inputs domestically or importing for export purposes.EPCG is an export promotion scheme for upgrading technology related with exports under which an exporter can import certain amount of capital goods at zero duty. Advance authorisation, on the other hand, is issued to allow duty free import of inputs, which is physically incorporated in export product. The move exporters from having to pay IGST at the initial point itself giving them a big relief. In the GST regime, they have to pay the indirect tax and then seek refund, which is a cumbersome process. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has said In a notification, that exemption from integrated GST and compensation cess under advance authorisation scheme, EOU, and EPCG scheme of foreign trade policy 2015-20 “is extended up to March 31, 2020”. In the current fiscal year during April-February, exports grew 8.85 % to USD 298.47 bn, while imports rose by 9.75 % to USD 464 bn. The trade deficit has widened to USD 165.52 bn during the 11 months of the current fiscal from USD 148.55 bn compared to the year-ago period.

Benefit from exemption to pay taxes under GST schemes to MSME exporters

TIRUPUR:Exporters operating small and medium-sized units (MSMEs) are set to benefit from the exemption to pay taxes under the GST schemes.The Government has offered exemption for one more year from the payment of integrated goods and services tax and compensation CESS by exporters utilizing promotion schemes such as the Advance Authorization scheme, Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme and Export Oriented Units scheme. GST reliefs under all the three schemes were due to end this month.
Many representations were made to the Government to get the extension said Raja M. Shanmugham of the Tirupur Exporters’ Association (TEA). He said a number of exporters, including knitwear makers, import the machinery to meet the requirements of buyers.Shanmugham pointed out “the payment of IGST for import of machinery under EPCG scheme could not be claimed as refund as the payment is for capital goods”.“After implementation of the GST, TEA had requested for exemption from the payment of IGST while importing capital goods under the EPCG scheme or inputs like specialty fabrics under Advance Authorisation scheme. “Considering the need, the Government permitted for exemption from payment of IGST for a period of six months on each occasion,” he said.

FIEO: Due to increasing protectionism and tough global conditions, exports growth nominal in February

New Delhi, Mar 16 (KNN) President of Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO), Ganesh Kumar Gupta said that exporters have managed to do well despite increasing protectionism, tough global conditions and constraints on the domestic front, while responding to February, 2019 exports data, exhibiting a nominal growth of 2.445 with exports of USD 26.67 bn for the month. FIEO Chief added that due to slowdown in the global trade and fragile world, economies across Asia especially China and South East Asian nations have been showing signs of sluggishness with contraction in manufacturing.During the month almost all labour-intensive sectors of exports have moved into the negative territory including gems and jewellery, leather and leather products, plantation, handicrafts, carpets, jute manufacturing including floor covering, marine products etc. besides petroleum, which also showed negative growth further pulling down the overall exports for the month, opined Gupta.
Only 18 major product groups out of 30, were in positive territory, with most of them with marginal growth during the month. However with this trend, we will be able to achieve merchandise exports of about USD 330 bn, the highest ever exports for a fiscal.Imports during February, 2019 declined by 5.41 % mainly due to decrease in imports of petroleum products, precious and semi-precious stones, gold and silver, which further led down to the decline of exports from gems and jewellery and petroleum sectors.Gupta said that imports of transport equipment and electronic goods were also down. All these sector of imports have also pulled down trade deficit to a low of about one and half years.Both imports and exports in India have also been impacted, Spin off effect due to global tariff war and the recent rise in crude oil prices due to supply cuts added Gupta.

February falls in export in textile sector

NEW DELHI:All the categories under the textile segment, except the cotton yarn/fabs/made-ups/handloom products category, reported a decline in exports in February. Man-made yarn/fab/made-ups category has reported a decline of 2% in the month to USD388 mn, compared with USD398 mn in the year-ago period. Similarly, jute manufacturing (including floor covering) reported a decline of 10% to USD23 mn as compared to USD26 mn in February 2018. The carpet and handicraft categories reported a decline of 3% each to USD111 mn (USD114 mn) and USD151 mn (USD156 mn), respectively, in exports during the month, said the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry. Exports of the apparel segment, however, grew 7% during the month to USD1.544 bn, compared with USD1.44 bn in February 2018. Following this, textiles and apparel exports in February saw a growth of 3% to USD3.094 bn, against USD2.992 bn in February 2018. Cumulatively (April-February 2019), except the jute category, all the other categories under textile segment grew marginally.

CHINA NEWS

India & China working together for ensuring greater market access to Indian Agri products: Envoy

BEIJING: Expressing concern over the widening trade deficit with China, with the country’s new envoy here India has said that addressing the issue would be his top priority. Assuming charge on January 8 at a time when the two Asian giants were trying to boost their bilateral ties, India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri, said on the Chinese media that India is working with the Chinese side for ensuring greater market access to the Indian agricultural products.The growing trade deficit, which has now crossed over USD 58 bn in over USD 80 bn trade concerned him. This year, he said the bilateral trade will cross the USD 100 bn mark. “However, this figure includes a deficit of USD 58 bn for India and this deficit has been increasing over the years. Addressing this trade deficit would be one of my priorities because it is not really sustainable in the long term,” Misri said.He said India is working with the Chinese side for ensuring greater market access to the Indian agricultural products such as sugar and rice, as well as various fruits and vegetables, besides pharmaceuticals and IT, which are India’s strengths.

Feb sees China’s container transport for exports pick up steam.

China’s container transport for export purposes picked up steam in February despite dipping demand on some routes, according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. From a month earlier, the average China Containerised Freight Index (CCFI) jumped to 886.56 in February, up by 3.5 %, the exchange added. In the first two months of the year, the index, that averaged 869.34 sharply rose from an average of 817.8 for 2018.Reports said the CCFI tracks spot and contractual freight rates from Chinese container ports for 12 shipping routes across the globe based on data from 20 international carriers.

2018 sees China’s logistics sector posts steady growth

BEIJING:With the value of goods carried by the sector up 6.4 % year-on-year to 283.1 trillion yuan (USD42.3 trillion), China’s logistics sector posted steady growth in 2018. According to the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, the growth rate was slightly down by 0.2 %age points from 2017.The share was slightly up from the previous year. Logistics expenditures rose 9.8 % to 13.3 trillion yuan, amounting to 14.8 % of last year’s GDP. Out of the total, expenditure on transportation rose 6.5 %, while storage and management costs both surged more than 13 %, showing greater efficiency in the transportation process.At 3 %age points faster than 2017, total revenue of the sector expanded 14.5 % last year to 10.1 trillion yuan.The sector’s steady performance was generally in line with its economic growth at 6.6 % in 2018, above an annual target of around 6.5 %.

More win-win results with China opening-up

BEIJING:On March 23, an official said., China will bring more win-win results by expanding, opening-up and enhancing support to foreign investors. Han Wenxiu, an official of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, said at the ongoing 20th China Development Forum that China believes in making the economic pie bigger and sharing it better through openness and cooperation, instead of pursuing a “zero sum” game. Under the commitment to achieving shared benefits through extensive consultation and joint contribution, China will pursue sustained progress in the Belt and Road Initiative and have more partners join and benefit from its development, Han said. More opportunities and platforms for trilateral and multi-party cooperation for more win-win outcomes will also be created, he said. He said the country will continue to shorten the negative-list to open up more sectors and ensure national treatment for foreign investors, and will step up legal protection of intellectual property rights and punishment for infringements.
Further Han said that the country will accelerate making relevant rules for the foreign investment law, level the playing field for foreign and domestic enterprises, and take on the issues of balance and structure in foreign trade.Adding that the country will turn external pressure into internal strength he said, opening-up at a higher-level will promote China’s economic structural reform and high-quality development. Key issues such as the supply-side structural reform, new measures of proactive fiscal policy, and the opening-up of the financial sector and financial stability will focus on in the three-day China Development Forum, which kicked off on March 23. The forum will see more than 50 officials from the Chinese central government’s departments and over 150 overseas delegates will participate, including 96 executives from the world’s leading companies and nearly 30 globally well-known scholars.

Fall in SCFI rates

SHANGHAI:TEU reorts said containerised freight index spot rates from China to North Europe fell 4.2 % on Friday from the previous week to USD684 per.Rates on the Asia-Medi-terranean trade fell 2.1 % to USD732 per TEU, and on the Asia to US West Coast lane decreased six % to USD1,345 per FEU. Reports added that rates to the US East Coast were also off, by 4.9 % to USD2,357 per FEU.

New rounds of trade talks in Beijing, Washington to be held by China, US

BEIJING:On March 21, China and the United States will hold their eighth round of high-level economic and trade consultations in Beijing from March 28 to 29, said the Ministry of Commerce (MOF).
MOF spokesperson Gao Feng told a news conference, that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were invited to visit China for the talks. Gao said that Vice-Premier Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue, was invited to visit Washington DC for the ninth round of talks in early April. Both sides have recently held several rounds of talks by phone on economic and trade issues and agreed on holding the eighth and ninth rounds of high-level consultations, he said.

Record high China-France bilateral trade volume hit in 2018

BEIJING:The bilateral trade volume between China and France surpassed USD60 bn, hitting a record high last year, the Ministry of Commerce (MOF) said on March 21. MOF spokesperson Gao Feng told a news conference said the bilateral trade volume saw a 15.5-% increase to USD62.9 bn, with France’s exports of agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and luxury clothing seeing fast growth. For the first two months in 2019, the bilateral trade volume grew 19.4 % year on year to USD10.6 bn. China’s imports of goods from France grew 42.2 %, said Gao. In terms of investment, France is the fourth largest country in the European Union (EU) to invest in China and ranks third in attracting Chinese investment in the EU. The direct investment from France to China grew 28 %, while investment in reverse went up 12 % in 2018. The total investment between the two countries exceeded USD40 bn by the end of January this year. While actively expanding cooperation in emerging industries including environmental protection, elder-care and finance, China and France have kept deepening cooperation in traditional industries such as nuclear, aviation and automobile industries said the MOC. Gao said, China would like to work with France to deepen cooperation in the traditional fields and expand cooperation in agriculture, finance and elder-care industries in the future.

Defense cooperation to be further enhanced: China, Egypt

CAIRO: During his meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe on March 25, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi pledged to further enhance defence cooperation with China. Sisi recalled the long-standing China-Egypt relation during which the two sides had achieved fruitful results from their cooperation in all fields and highlighted China’s contribution to world peace, during the meeting. He hailed China’s great achievements in its development, saying that Egypt firmly supports the Belt and Road Initiative and expects to enhance cooperation in the field of infrastructure construction with the Chinese side.Sisi also expressed hoped for more cooperation in the fields of counter terrorism, joint military drills, armed forces build-up as well as defence industry if te two sides can further enhance defence cooperation and conduct. Bearing in mind the long friendship between China and Egypt, Wei highlighted the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, adding that it has gone deeper and achieved pragmatic results. Appreciating Egypt’s important role in international and regional issues, Wei said that China supports Egypt’s efforts to defend its independence and sovereignty, adding that China is ready to enhance cooperation and work together with Egypt to promote the Belt and Road Initiative to achieve better and faster development of bilateral relations. Under the leadership of the two heads of state, the military cooperation between China and Egypt has achieved fruitful results. “We are willing to work together with the Egyptian armed forces to implement important consensus between the two leaders and develop a higher level of relations between the two armies,” Wei said. on March 24, Wei also met with Egyptian Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki.

Port charges to be cut by China to reduce logistics cost

CAIRO: China’s Ministry of Transport and National Development and Reform Commission, for a five-year period has revised port charging plans and will reduce some port charges starting from 1 April 2019.The nation will reduce the charge items of harbor dues on cargo, port facility security fee, pilotage (mooring) fee, tug boat charges for domestic ships by 15%, 20%, 10% and 5% separately.Additionally, some of the port charges will be merged, including combining water, gas, oil and electricity service fees into ship supply service fee, combining service fee for garbage collection and disposal, and receiving and processing polluted oil and water into ship pollution receiving and processing service fee, and combining storage fee and storehouse using fee into the storehouse using fee. The revised plans will be able to further reduce logistics costs and improve Chinese ports operation environment.

Africa News

Operations of RA International expanded in Mozambique

A service provider to remote location in Africa and the Middle East, RA International Group PLC, announced that it has expanded its operations in Mozambique
An acquisition of a 150,000 sq m parcel of land in northern Mozambique has been agreed upon by the group. A large camp facility in support of the upcoming gas projects in the region is sought to be built within months. A 49 % shareholding in Royal Food Solutions S.A. (.RFS), a family-owned Mozambique-based provider of integrated facility management services has also successfully been acquired The group will be in a good position to capitalize on future opportunities with its expanded presence of RA International in the region. RFS provides catering services to Mozal, KPMG, and Vodacom. Strategic investment in RFS will enhance the group’s ability to provide fully integrated camp services in Mozambique. Soraya Narfeldt, CEO of RA International, said, “We are pleased to be increasing our strategic presence in Mozambique, which follows a detailed analysis of the potential opportunities available to RA International in the region. The land purchase and proposed establishment of a camp facility will result in the company having a sizeable footprint in Mozambique which delivers on our geographical diversification plans. “The acquisition of a stake in Royal Food Solutions will combine both companies’ strengths, capabilities and local knowledge. We look forward to working with the RFS team and within the community,” she added.

Africa’s financial development dependent on tax reform, digitization

According to the 2019 Economic Report on Africa, the nation needs to digitize its economies, increase tax base and prevent further deterioration of fiscal and debt positions to achieve the UN 2030 global goals (SDGs), and the AU Agenda 2063.
This year’s Economic Report on Africa, a flagship publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) focuses on fiscal policy. At 21.4 %, Government revenues are insufficient to meet countries’ development financing needs.
Vera Songwe, ECA’s executive secretary, stated, “African countries continue to search for policy mixes to help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. However, for many countries, financing remains the biggest bottleneck with implementing capacity a close second.” While placing emphasis on the need for Africa to accelerate growth to double digits by 2030 and to boost investment from its current 25 % of GDP, analysing and highlighting both challenges and opportunities, the report recommends comprehensive macroeconomic reforms aimed at building financial resilience. While in 2018, economic growth in Africa remained moderate at 3.2 %– due to “Solid global growth, a moderate increase in commodity prices and favourable domestic conditions,” the report emphasises a fine balance needs to be achieved between raising revenue and incentivising investments, that Africa work towards in order to boost growth. The report reveals that in some of Africa’s largest economies, South Africa, Angola and Nigeria, upward growth trend remains with vulnerable to shifts in commodity prices. At 6.1 % in 2017 East Africa remains the fastest growing, and 6.2 % in 2018, while in West Africa, the economy expanded by 3.2 % in 2018, up from 2.4 % in 2017. Central, North and Southern Africa’s economies grew at a slower pace in 2018 compared to 2017. On the issue of Africa’s debt burden, the report reveals that debt levels remained high as African countries increased their borrowing, to ease fiscal pressures most of which have been precipitated by the narrowing of revenue streams that have gone on since the commodity price shocks of 2014. African countries, it is argued, can increase government revenue by 12–20 % of GDP by adopting a policy framework that strengthens revenue mobilisation, including through digitalising African economies stating that digitisation could enhance revenue mobilisation by up to six %.“Digital identification can broaden the tax base by making it easier to identify and track taxpayers and helping taxpayers meet their tax obligations. By improving tax assessments and administration, it enhances the government’s capacity to mobilise additional resources. Digital ID systems yield gains in efficiency and convenience that could result in savings to taxpayers and government of up to USD50 bn a year by 2020,” Songwe added.

Relief sent to cyclone survivors in SE Africa by rallying Logistics community

Residents have been reeling from the impact of Cyclone Idai, which struck the Mozambique coast on March 14 and moved west to Zimbabwe and Malawi in southeast Africa in the following days, where the logistics community is rallying to respond to the devastation. While thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, the official death toll of 500 people is expected to rise in the coming days.The air cargo community has responded with humanitarian aid including flights donated to the region, carrying shipments of supplies, relief workers and other. Denmark-based logistics company DSV, for instance, is providing support transporting emergency equipment from neighboring countries to Malawi, underpinning the Red Cross’ response. “We have been providing support to Malawi for a few years, so we know that this is already a vulnerable area,” said Jesper Petersen, senior director, Group CSR at DSV. “There’s no doubt that we should be supporting, and the best way to do it is offering our transport expertise.” The storm partially damaged and temporarily shut down Beira Airport, but according to the BBC it has reopened. Air force personnel from Mozambique and South Africa have also been called in to “fly rescue missions and distribute aid while roads are out of action”, it said. Working with over 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and more than 10 airlines, namely South African Airways, United, GlobalMedic and Medical Teams International, humanitarian relief organization Airlink is another one of the major participants to organize a relief effort in all three countries. “Our focus is on transporting relief workers and emergency supplies to provide clean water, repair shelters, give medical care to survivors, and provide other critical assistance as people and communities recover,” the organization said in a statement. With weather forecasters predicting heavy rainfall over Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, the devastation is continuing to worsen this week, causing already swollen rivers to burst their banks and flooding to ensue, drowning entire villages, so the response is ongoing.

Growth of palladium and rhodium ETF values sustained due to global environmental trends

According to Standard Bank, palladium and rhodium are more valuable than gold and platinum on an ounce-for-ounce basis, driven by current demand of both PGM metals as the catalytic material of choice in an increasingly emissions-conscious age.
Since January 2017, the US dollar price of both palladium and rhodium has increased by 40 % and 84 % respectively since January 2018, and 117 % and 310 % over the two years. This is the price context driving the recent performance of Standard Bank’s rhodium and palladium ETFs, “Which have been, respectively, the first and second-best performing ETFs in South Africa for two years in a row,” said Johann Erasmus, head of ETFs at Standard Bank. At the same time, largely due to production surpluses and reduced demand for platinum in the jewellery sector, the value of platinum, the other major PGM metal, has decreased by 11 % since January 2018. Despite these sustained PGM price trends, “The ETF investor market has behaved somewhat counterintuitively,” in the view of Erasmus as, “Investors maintain their commitment to platinum ETFs even as they decreased their investment in better-performing palladium and rhodium ETFs.”Some of the sell-off of palladium and rhodium ETFs can be explained by profit-taking as, “Investors lock in the huge price gains achieved by palladium and rhodium ETFs over the last two years compared with the performance of the local equity market,” noted Erasmus.
Compelling market trends
Migration to the use of smaller and more efficient gasoline cars, continue in Europe and China, and China introduces ever-tighter emissions controls, vehicles in these markets which will require higher loadings of both palladium and rhodium. “Both metals are preferred by the manufacturers of catalytic converters of gasoline cars,” explained Erasmus. Moreover, the recent ‘diesel-gate’ scandal raised environmental concerns around the fuel, driving a general move away from diesel vehicles, especially in Europe, traditionally a large user of diesel vehicles. Moreover, in both the United States and China, the sustained growth in demand for gasoline vehicles is only serving to reinforce these trends. At the same time, Europe’s introduction of tighter controls on diesel is being augmented by legislation encouraging the development of hybrid electric and gasoline cars. Despite the shutting down of marginal operations South Africa looks set to continue with a surplus supply of platinum. The closure of these operations, however, also reduces the supply of palladium and rhodium which occur and are produced along with platinum in the same operations.

Solar power operations in West Africa to expand: Daystar Power

Aiming to provide solar power solution for commercial and industrial customers across West Africa, Daystar Power, African solar energy company, has signed a USD10mn investment deal with Verod Capital Management and Persistent Energy Capital LLC.
In addition, to accelerate its expansion across the region, Daystar Power has lined up an additional USD16mn in debt financing.Daystar has installed one megawatt of off-grid solar energy solutions to commercial and industrial customers across Nigeria and Ghana since inception.Solar power systems ranging from 20 KWp to 5 MWp provided by Daystar Power.Olu Verheijen, partner at Persistent, noted, “The commercial and industrial segment presents a credible path to scale and profitability in the off-grid sector.”
Its’s solutions aim to enable companies to redirect significant power cost savings into business growth while reducing their carbon footprint. Daystar Power aims to save the customers regularly up to 25 % of their energy costs, whilst providing them with a reliable source of energy at close to 100 % uptime across all the installed systems, said Christian Wessels, founder and executive chairman at Daystar Power.
The new deal is set to fulfill the demand among West African corporates for solar power solutions, reducing both cost and carbon footprint, commented Jasper Graf von Hardenberg, CEO of Daystar Power.

Mozambique’s GDP growth set to transform with Rovuma LNG: Standard Bank

The Rovuma LNG is expected to attract between USD27bn and USD32bn investment, transforming Mozambique’s GDP growth, according to a study by Standard Bank
The project once developed, aims to monetize 2.6 bcf per day of Mozambique’s offshore LNG resources and add USD15bn to USD18bn per annum to Mozambique’s GDP, driving Mozambique towards being the world’s fourth largest producer of LNG. “The first phase of Rovuma LNG has the potential to transform the Mozambican economy and turn the province of Cabo Delgado into one of the world’s fastest growing regions, with every prospect of developing supporting industrial and agricultural value chains,” said Dele Kuti, head of oil and gas for Standard Bank Group. The development of Rovuma LNG aims to place Mozambique in pole position to become a long-term leading supplier of LNG to some of the world’s largest economies, including China, as they deepen fuel-switching policies aimed at replacing coal with cleaner gas as an energy source. In 2019 the Rovuma LNG project’s first phase is targeting a final investment decision. The Rovuma LNG plans to employ approximately 20,500 construction workers and 1,300 operational workers. Many more additional employment opportunities from various value chain and reinvestment activities are also expected to be created with the project’s activities associated with the support, supply and profits arising from the commercial operation of Rovuma LNG.
“It is anticipated that the development of domestic gas industry in Mozambique will help the government achieve its vision of having a domestic gas sector running parallel to its LNG export capability. This will drive broader national development and social transformation, especially with regard to domestic small and medium-sized enterprise formation,” noted Paul Eardley-Taylor, head of oil and gas, Southern Africa, for Standard Bank. On a cautionary note, the Standard Bank’s study reveals that any delays to Rovuma LNG would have a negative economic impact upon achieving the projected targets.

Payments modernization across Africa driven by Eafricalab and ACI Worldwide

To serve consumers better across 25 African countries ACI Worldwide, a provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, has announced that Eafricalab will use its Postilion UP Retail Payment solution

African processor Eafricalab, is providing payments processing for customers across the banking, retail, microfinance, telecoms and local government sectors. Eafricalab will be empowered by ACI’s payments platform to modernise its payments offering, fostering further innovation and financial inclusion across the continent. For Postillion, that provides seamless configuration and scripting, enabling the processor to quickly launch new value-added payment services for its customers, including card management, gift cards and prepaid solutions, Eafricalab will utilise ACI’s UP Retail Payments solution. Postilion will additionally allow the company to process modern electronic payments, such as non-card withdrawals, retailer transactions and new alternative payment methods. Simplice Anoh, CEO of Eafricalab, said, “We are excited to adopt ACI’s proven payments technology, which will allow us to offer new payments capabilities as well as stronger services to our clients. Together with ACI, we are committed to leading the digital payments revolution across Africa.” Manish Patel, vice-president of Middle East, Africa and South Asia, ACI Worldwide, added, “This new partnership reaffirms our commitment of enabling rapid innovation for the African market with cutting-edge payment solutions.” “ACI’s UP Retail Payments solution for Postillion enables new, digital payments to be offered in any marketplace, ensuring that processors, acquirers, payment card networks and banks are able to participate in the new payments ecosystem,” he concluded.

African Regional Integration Index (ARI) : Regional integration remains low

The upcoming 2019 African Regional Integration Index was released at the Conference of Ministers in Morocco on Saturday. The preliminary findings indicate that regional integration in Africa remains low.
The Index is known as ARII, and was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress. As per the findings, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is the most integrated region in terms of trade, with South Africa as the most integrated country on the continent. Five areas were analysed such as trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration, in which because of its modest performance in regional infrastructure and financial integration South Africa topped the ranking; with South Sudan as the least integrated. Meanwhile, integration in services contributed more than 53 % of the continent’s GDP, but ratification of the protocol on the free movement of people has been slow, despite the 2016 launch of the Common Electronic Biometric African Passport, and the AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The Continent’s large infrastructure deficit remains a major hindrance to intra-regional trade. “It is up to Africans themselves to ensure that the initiative benefits them through hard work and efficient implementation of the mechanisms of the CFTA,” said David Luke, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, regional integration and trade division of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA). Despite the ‘tremendous’ political support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Leila Mokadem, country manager and resident representative in Morocco for the African Development Bank (AfDB), added that there are still major challenges ahead in terms of implementation and pushing the agenda forward to meet the goal of increasing intra-African trade to 25 % by 2023 from between 15 % and 18 % currently.She cited low productive capacity in Africa, high production costs, large infrastructure deficits and other challenges that affected Africa’s competitiveness. This is compounded by the number of small markets and 16 landlocked countries.

In SA Bolt to offer new food delivery service

Bolt, the ride-hailing platform formerly is planning to add food delivery to its service offering. Along with Estonia and Finland, South Africa is likely to be one of the first three countries worldwide in which the service will be offered. Ma1rkus Villig, CEO and co-founder of Bolt, says that the company has been built around offering the best prices for passengers, and the lowest commissions for drivers. “This has led us to grow faster and more cost-efficiently than any other ride-hailing platform in the world,” he says. “Now we want to bring this approach to food delivery. Combined with our technology, efficient operations and thousands of drivers in South Africa, we plan to build the best food delivery service for the people who already use our services daily.” In a move aimed at bringing the brand identity in line with the company’s broader vision of transportation, the company recently underwent a global rebranding exercise, changing its name from Taxify to Bolt. Bolt’s services already include ride-hailing, with cars and motorbikes, as well as scooter sharing.

World News

Eyeing Southeast Asian region, India builds port in Indonesia

JAKARTA: India is making its maiden foray in the Southeast Asian amid China’s slew of connectivity plans for ASEAN under BRI by developing its maiden deep-sea port in Indonesia’s Sabang close to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Sabang Port is being developed in partnership with neighbour and strategic partner Indonesia. Currently an Indian Coast Guard Ship Vijit, is on a visit to Sabang, Indonesia, from March 17-20. India will get wide access to Southeast Asia thanks to the deep sea port as a counter-balancing force. The port will be a key element in India’s Indo-Pacific strategy. In Sabang in Indonesia’s Aceh province a joint initiative to develop deep-sea port to enhance maritime connectivity as part of respective Indo-Pacific strategies was launched last year. India and Indonesia are trying to complement each other with proposed connectivity and infrastructure projects in the region.

Help to raise port efficiency with new container handling equipment

LONDON: With a view to improve the overall operational efficiency at ports UK-based BLOK Container Systems has introduced a new equipment to speed up the handling of containers. Four empty shipping containers to be lifted and transported on to quaysides as a single block, on the equipment BLOK Spreader. This enables potentially easing congestion in container ports as well as reducing emissions and saving bns for the industry.“This is a major innovation that is going to change the maritime sector – it is perhaps the biggest step forward since the introduction of the shipping container as multiple container handling has the potential to revolutionize port handling systems,” said Selwyn Rowley, BLOK’s Director of Sales and Marketing.“Ports around the world handle 679 mn containers annually of which around 24% are handled empty. Container terminals charge at least GBP100 (USD133) and often much more a lift, so the potential savings created by being able to move four at a time rather than one run into the bns,” Rowley said. “Ships have become bigger now and carry as many as 20,000 containers but that volume has exacerbated delays at ports and more efficient handling is required. The price of fuel is also going up and tough new environmental standards are being introduced so time savings are essential to allow for slower sailing.” Rowley added that ports around the world, have shown interest in the company as well as many country members of the IMO.

More slow steaming and transshipment could trigger due to IMO 2020 low-sulphur rules: Drewry

LONDON: As the IMO 2020 deadline draws near, you don’t need Drewry to tell you that it is going to be a pivotal year for the carrier industry. Many lines which still operate with highly distressed balance sheets could be ruined due to the failure to recover more of the fuel cost from customers than in the past (estimated to be around 50%).
In February, offering some pointers to shippers regarding the new fuel regulation to use in their contract discussions with carriers, and previously launched an IMO 2020 Cost Impact Calculator to assess the ramifications, Drewry Supply Chain Advisors released a whitepaper (IMO 2020 Low-sulphur Regulations). From what we hear, although there are still a number of sticking points regarding the mechanics of how it should be done, there seems to be a general acceptance among shippers that they will have to pay more towards the fuel cost burden.
On the other side of the table, carriers will argue that for shippers a short-term win could quickly turn into a loss. Shippers might want to consider during negotiations as any cost saving today might raise the likelihood of another carrier bankruptcy in the manner of Hanjin Shipping, causing unwanted chaos in the supply chain and further reducing the competition, thus increasing the risk of much higher rates at a later date.

Rise in trade of fake goods currently at 3.3% of World Trade: OCED

PARIS: The last few years has seen a steady risen trade of counterfeit and pirated goods– despite overall stagnation in trade volumes – which now stands at 3.3% of global trade, according to a new report by the OECD and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office. Trends in Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide based on 2016 customs seizure data at USD 509 bn, up from USD 461 bn in 2013 (2.5% of world trade). Up from 5% in 2013, for the European Union, counterfeit trade represented 6.8% of imports from non-EU countries. These figures do not include domestically produced and consumed fake goods, or pirated products being distributed via the Internet.The biggest share of 2016 seizures in dollar terms were goods like footwear, clothing, leather goods, electrical equipment, watches, medical equipment, perfumes, toys, jewelry and pharmaceuticals. An increase in counterfeits of goods less commonly seen in the past – such as branded guitars and construction materials – was also noted by Customs officials. Customs checks originate in Mainland China and Hong Kong led to majority of fake goods picked up. Other major points of origin include the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand and India. In 2016 the most affected countries by counterfeiting were the United States, whose brands or patents were concerned by 24% of the fake products seized, followed by France at 17%, Italy (15%), Switzerland (11%) and Germany (9%). A growing number of businesses in Singapore, Hong Kong and emerging economies like Brazil and China are also becoming targets.

Greater focus on dangerous goods must in container safety campaigns

London: Currently making headline news are the recent fire aboard Yantian Express, details of the final judgment on the Flaminia explosion in July 2012 and the ongoing investigation of the Maersk Honan fire. Then just days ago news has come in of a container fire on Grande America in the Bay of Biscay and the ship subsequently sinking. Perilous incidents such as these not only frequently cost lives, mns of dollars in cargo losses and ship damage, but also significant delays in cargo supply chains amounting to major disruption across numerous industries in these ‘just-in-time’ days. Yet these incidents are merely the tip of a failing safety iceberg. While there have already been four major cargo-related fire incidents in 2019, it is estimated that a major containership fire at sea occurs on average every 60 days, taking the maritime segment of global supply chain. Furthermore TT Club’s records indicate that across the intermodal spectrum as a whole, 66 % of incidents related to cargo damage can be attributed to poor practice in the overall packing process; that is not just in securing but also in cargo identification, declaration, documentation and effective data transfer. The cost of these claims in the Marine Aviation & Transport (MAT) insurance sector is calculated to be in excess of USD 500 mn a year. Mr Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s Risk Management Director, is leading the Cargo integrity charge, “We are endeavouring to focus all direct and indirect stakeholders on recognising and doing the right thing,” he states. “One particularly critical aspect of this is the correct declaration and handling of dangerous goods (DG).” Though all types of cargo can be mishandled; however, wrongly classified, labelled, packed or simply inaccurately identified dangerous commodities bring the greatest potential risk of disaster. Estimating the degree of failure to comply with best practices in this regard is not straightforward. ICHCA International, the cargo handling operatives association, has calculated that of the 60 mn packed containers moved each year, 10 % or six mn are declared as DG. It is revealed that 20 % of these are poorly packed or incorrectly identified as per information from published government inspections (which are invariably biased towards declared DG loads) suggests that. This translates into 1.3 mn potentially unstable DG containers travelling around the world each year.Mr Storrs-Fox emphasises that this scale of risk is elevated when undeclared or mis-declared DG consignments are considered. “In these cases an estimate of volumes is more obscure. An indication has been given through the work of one container carrier, Hapag-Lloyd, developing a profiling algorithm to search its booking system for potential misdeclaration of commodities. Results from Cargo Patrol, when extrapolated to the carryings of all the lines, concludes a reasonable estimate in excess of 150,000 volatile containers in the supply chain each year.”
Efforts are on in container lines in particular to mitigate the problem. A number of commodities that commonly cause problems during transport have been successfully identified by the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), in which many of the top lines participate, has been active for a number of years and —not always limited to those formally identified as dangerous. TT Club has additionally promoted, together with UK P&I Club and Exis Technologies, the Hazcheck Restrictions Portal, which is designed to identify and streamline the complexity of regulations and protocols imposed by carriers and ports around the world in relation to transporting declared dangerous goods, said a release. However, as Mr Storrs-Fox concludes, “There is very much still to be done in achieving true cargo Integrity. Our diverse campaign is seeking significant cultural and behavioural change to say the least. Certain elements may require legislative action, enforcement and inspection and there are great challenges in the field of technological development. Above all there is a need for all involved in the supply chain to have a realistic perception of risk and a responsible attitude towards liability.”

Smart borders & how to enhance Customs controls discussed by Global Customs officials

Brussels: The 38th Session of the WCO Enforcement Committee (EC) took place in Brussels from March 11 to 15, 2019 under the theme “SMART Borders: Knowledge-based Customs enforcement” in which more than 200 customs delegates participated. How data and technology have a crucial role to play in optimising Customs enforcement activities was the theme of this year’s Committee had chosen to reflect. Relentlessly faced with new emerging risks the international Customs community is must embrace technology-driven tools and solutions to address cross-border security challenges while facilitating the movement of legitimate trade. The WCO’s general theme for 2019 “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport” and the EC’s theme was purposely in line with the it. The Committee shared and exchanged on many projects and initiatives relevant to this general objective of achieving more secure and efficient controls at the borders while facilitating legitimate trade and movement of passengers during one week of intense and lively discussions.
The importance of coordinated border management, balancing facilitation and enforcement in Customs actions was emphasised in his address by Dr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General of the WCO, d and he stressed the necessity to implement technology that would assist in adopting a risk-based approach. He also emphasised that fostering partnerships with all relevant stakeholders was the way forward to ensure strong and effective responses to emerging risks and threats.Different items contained in the agenda were deliberated upon by the Committee. These included nine sessions covering key topics addressed by the WCO Enforcement programmes, namely: Environment; Drugs; Security; Intelligence and Risk Management/CEN; Cultural Heritage; IPR, Health and Safety; Revenue; Customs Investigations and for the first time, Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing. Interactive panel discussions were maintained following the success of last year’s format. The meeting presented an array of experts from the different sectors who delved into topics of interest and provided valuable input to EC participants. The necessary safety measures to be taken into account by members during controls of potentially harmful substances, like Fentanyl for example, was explored by the drugs panel. The IPR, Health and Safety panel provided some insight into the functioning of the United Arab Emirates’ Free Trade Zones, and the speakers touched upon the importance and the challenges of enforcing controls in these zones. a very interesting presentation on the use of the Artificial Intelligence in satellite imagery and how this could be applied to Customs enforcement ended the sessions . The meeting ended with the elections for the Chair and Vice-Chair of the EC. Following the tradition, the current Vice-Chair, Mr Debi Dash from the Central Board of Excise and Customs of India was elected Chair, and Mr Jean Herby Nelson from Haiti, was elected as Vice-Chair of the 39th Session of the WCO Enforcement Committee. The current Chair, Ms Abigail Bradshaw from the Australian Border Force, was commended for her guidance and excellent management of the meeting over the past two years, by the two newly-appointed delegates who further thanked the Committee for the vote of confidence said a release.

Significant fall in seaborne imports into the biggest US gateways for Asia trade in Feb.

WASHINGTON: February saw a sharp fall in seaborne imports into the biggest US gateways for Asia trade, bringing to a halt a month-long shipping surge driven by strong consumer demand. Companies rushed to bring goods into the country ahead of potential new tariffs. Loaded container imports into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach came down by a combined 10.2 % last month from the same month a year ago. In February, the gateways handled 651,180 TEUs, down nearly 75,000 containers from February 2018. The drop came at the time of the Lunar New Year celebration during the annual pause in China’s manufacturing when factories traditionally shut down for several weeks. It also followed a boom in imports into Los Angeles and Long Beach that began early last summer as new Trans-Pacific tariffs loomed amid growing trade tensions between the US and China, reports said.

Testing of viability of biofuel as a tangible step towards de-carbonization of shipping

A.P. Moller-Maersk and a group of global companies in the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition will test the long-distance viability of biofuel, taking a tangible step towards the de-carbonization of shipping in the world’s largest maritime pilot of its kind. In a pilot between March and June, using up to 20 % sustainable second-generation biofuels, a large Triple-E vessel will sail 25,000 nautical miles from Rotterdam to Shanghai and back on biofuel blends alone, a world’s first at this scale. A group of Dutch multinationals—including Friesland Campina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, Shell and Unilever—all members of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC), convinced of the urgency to tackle the impact of climate change, will join forces with A.P. Moller-Maersk to take this tangible step towards the de-carbonization of ocean shipping, emphasized a release. “To reach our net zero CO2 target by 2050, we need big breakthroughs in the next 10 years. Maersk cannot do this alone. That is why this collaboration with DSGC and its members is such an important step in identifying and bringing low-carbon solutions to life,” says Mr Søren Toft, COO of Maersk. “The pilot lays the foundation for how cross-industry partners can work together to take steps towards a more sustainable future. We welcome others to join in our efforts, as this journey is just beginning.” The DSGC members, many of which are customers to Maersk, played a critical role by initiating and sponsoring the pilot. Shell acts as the fuel supplier for the pilot, and Maersk is the operating partner.The biofuel used in this pilot is a so-called ‘second-generation’ biofuel, produced from waste sources, in this case used cooking oil (UCOME oil). Biofuel, which comes from waste products is called Second-generation biofuel. This could be used cooking oil, forest residues, wood chip waste, etc. This biofuel is ISCC certified, meaning that the whole chain is 3rd party certified. The power of biofuel is that it can, to a certain extent, replace or be blended with conventional fossil fuels, without having to make big technical adaptations to the engines or even replacing them, the release added. Frequencies to Asian destinations increased by ABC By increasing frequencies to its popular trans-Eurasian routes, including Narita (NRT), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Shenzhen (SZX), Moscow-based subsidiary of the Volga Dnepr Group, AirBridgeCargo (ABC), is bolstering its footprint in Asia. Frequencies to each destination will now be eight, two and six per week, respectively, by the end of March. “Based on the backdrop of healthy and stable growth of Asian countries, ABC will be able to boost export volumes, at the same time accumulating burgeoning import volumes,” said Sergey Lazarev, general director of AirBridgeCargo Airlines. E-commerce makes up the majority of airfreight moving out of Shenzhen, said ABC, while its connection to Narita sees a significant amount of pharma and healthcare products onboard. Its Ho Chi Minh City route appeals to shippers moving mostly general cargo. The latest addition to ABC’s APAC (Asia-Pacific) stations, is Shenzhen which the Russian carrier added to its network at the end of last year. “Being one of the three airport hubs serving Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen complements our APAC online stations and offers our customers more options for delivery of their consignments,” said Alexey Zotov, commercial director of ABC. The centerpiece of a cluster of highly populated metropolitan regions on the southeast coast of China is the Pearl River Delta. It has beneficial trade laws, as it lies within a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Zotov also cited the airport’s plans to expand its cargo infrastructure and build a third runway as points of interest to the airline and its customers.

Europe sees launch of Uber Freight

SAN FRANCISCO: Uber Freight has worked to revitalize the trucking industry since launching in the U.S. two years ago and brought new opportunities to both carriers and shippers across the country. “The inroads we have made in the U.S. are exciting, and we recognized from the start that freight logistics is a global industry and an integral part of the world economy”. “With that, we are excited to announce that we are expanding our operations into Europe. Our launch starts in the Netherlands and in the coming weeks, local carriers and drivers will be able to book and move their first loads with Uber Freight. From there, we plan to expand access in other parts of Europe in the near future”. “When we launched the Uber Freight app in the U.S., we introduced transparent pricing, fast payments, and the ability for carriers and drivers to book a load with just a few taps of a button. In an industry where spending countless hours and phone calls to negotiate and book a load is typical, our technology was adopted quickly. Today, we have a robust network of carriers and drivers who are using Uber Freight to grow their businesses and move freight across the country”. On the part of the shippers, Uber Freight delivers instant access to our vast network of reliable carriers and their drivers through an intuitive platform, enabling shippers of any size to generate quotes in real-time, tender a load with only a few clicks, and track their shipments from pickup to drop-off. This simplicity and transparency enable shippers to move freight at scale and with speed that was previously not possible. we aim to unite the industry towards a more efficient and transparent future, one that benefits everyone by removing some barriers between carriers and shippers and creating better ways for them to work together.
Expansion into Europe
Europe’s freight market is one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world, yet carriers and shippers experience many of the same challenges as their counterparts in the U.S. The European market is highly fragmented with small- to medium-sized carriers making up more than 85% of the total carrier pool, and, just like in the U.S., it is difficult for these small businesses to meet the needs of shippers without the aid of technology.

Implications of global sulphur cap 2020 for shipping and how to comply by next year: DNV GL

OSLO: The year 2020 will see the global 0.50% sulphur cap come into force. Finally, this date is no longer in the far-off future but in less than 365 days. What four options are available for ship owners?
An impressive more than 70,000 ships worldwide will be affected by this regulation according to the guidance paper Global Sulphur Cap 2020 published by DNV GL on the topic. As a result, ship owners will need to weigh up their options in the very near future to ensure that their vessels will be in compliance on all the usual trade routes if they have not done so already. Just to recap, to meet the 2020 deadline, there are basically four possible options:

  • Switching from high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) to marine gas oil (MGO) or distillates
  • Using very-low-sulphur fuel oil or compliant fuel blends (0.50% sulphur)
  • Retrofitting vessels to use alternative fuels such as LNG or other sulphur-free fuels
  • Installing exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers), which allow operation on regular HSFO.

While there is no single, dominant solution, all four options come with advantages, disadvantages and constraints. For example, LNG requires a sufficiently developed bunkering infrastructure along the intended trade routes. Scrubbers require significant space in already crowded engine rooms. MGO is roughly twice as expensive as HFO or LNG, leading to possibly prohibitively high operational expenses. It may be even harder to find alternative low-sulphur fuels, in sufficient quantities, than LNG on certain routes. The best choice will depend on many factors, not least in the least the age of the ship. To complicate matters further, the factors themselves are not static; we know they will also change over time and we know they will also depend on the evolution in the rest of the market. Sometimes it seems rather like a game of chess, where if you are blindfolded and are not familiar with the rules of the game, you stand no chance of winning.

Emirates : Flights added to Cairo, network reach to expand

Dubai-based Emirates, today announced that it will add four additional weekly flights between Dubai (DXB) and Cairo (CAI). The new flights will be operated by a 777-300ER and will offer an additional 160 tons of belly cargo capacity per week to and from CAI. 800 tons of cargo capacity is currently available through the carrier’s existing flights on the same route. The four new flights will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and will increase Emirates’ total weekly flights serving CAI to 25. The additional DXB-CAI flight, EK 921, will depart from DXB at 12:00 and will arrive at CAI at 14:15; the return flight, EK 922, will leave CAI at 16:15 and will arrive at DXB at 21:35.
The move demonstrates a continuation of Emirates’ efforts to enhance its connectivity to cities in Asia, the Americas and Australia, including Beijing (PEK), Bangkok (BKK), Hong Kong (HKG), Sydney (SYD), Shanghai (PVG), New Delhi (DEL), Mumbai (BOM), New York (JFK) and Washington D.C. (DCA). Most recently The carrier signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ho Chi Minh City government’s trade agency, launched a new route to Bogotá (BOG) and adjusted its strategy for flights between DXB and Kabul International Airport (KBL), as reported by our sister site, Air Cargo World. Emirates SkyCargo also reported a 4 % increase in its 2018 traffic to 2.6 mn tons of cargo, which may have been supported by its 2018 network expansions to Maastricht (MST), Santiago (SCL), Stansted (STN) and Edinburgh (EDI) airports.
Of this tonnage, the carrier reported that it transported more than 35,750 tons to and from CAI in 2018 – 19,750 tons were exports and 16,000 tons were imports. Close to 90 % of the commodities exported from CAI were fruits and vegetables, which are supported by Emirates’ cool-chain facilities at CAI and across its network. Ultimately, the four new routes will contribute to the carrier’s efforts to grow its cargo volumes into 2019, while, for CAI, the new flights will aid in boosting the airport’s cargo volumes against regional competitors in Dubai (DXB, DWC) and Istanbul (ISL, IST).

Customs decision to extend Transitional Simplified Procedures welcomesd by UK freight association

London: Commenting on the recent announcement by HMRC (UK Revenue and Customs) on Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for Customs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Robert Keen, Director-General of the British International Freight Association, says: “Having criticised HMRC when it originally published its Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) in February, we now welcome the news that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the date when the first supplementary Customs declarations must be submitted, and any import duties must be paid, has been extended to October 4. “We also welcome the news that TSP will be available for any port or airport where goods are being brought into the UK from the EU, not just RoRo ports. “But most importantly, we are pleased that HMRC has agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients.” BIFA, among others, lobbied hard with HMRC following the original announcement about TSP in February. Representing the UK freight forwarding sector, the trade association said it understood new applicants may find it easier to obtain these authorisations thanks to some of the easements contained in the TSP. But it also explained that despite the fact that they are the businesses that are most likely to be fully prepared to operate TSP, there did not appear to be equivalent liberalisation of the regimes for existing holders, such as freight forwarders. The fact that the original documentation was skewed in favour of new applicants for authorisations and actually discriminated against existing holders, particularly relating to special procedures, was addressed by the extension. BIFA understands that by simplifying the declarations at the border and postponing the payment of import duties that would otherwise be due, HMRC’s original aim of publishing the Transitional Simplified Procedures in the event of a non-deal Brexit was to make importing easier. The recently announced extension provides more time to make the necessary preparations, fully test the systems, establish the communication links between the parties involved in the processes, and ensures that everyone concerned is aware of their responsibilities. Mr Keen concludes: “This is a very significant easement of policy and one for which BIFA, amongst others, lobbied hard to ensure all modes were treated equally. It should be noted that much confusion and effort could have been saved if government had consulted with the trade in the first place.” “By allowing freight forwarders to operate TSP, the extension recognises the critical role that the freight forwarder plays as an intermediary in the UK’s supply chain,” as per a release.

2019 IATA Air Cargo Innovation Award won by Unilode Aviation Solutions

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Unilode Aviation Solutions is the recipient of the IATA Air Cargo Innovation Award for 2019. Unilode was recognized for its Bluetooth-based tracking solution for unit load devices (ULDs) and the award was presented at the 13th World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Singapore. Customers will be allowed to use Unilode’s concept ULD as a proxy for air cargo located inside to track location and transmit status updates on the temperature, light and shock exposure and humidity. Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security; Benoît Dumont, Unilode CEO; Markus Flacke, Unilode Head of Product Management and Solution Development; Martijn van Geest, Head of Digital Transformation; Glyn Hughes, IATA Global Head of Cargo (from left to right) “One of the biggest growth areas in air cargo is special handling items like time- and temperature-sensitive payloads. Customers for these products want to know where these items are, and their condition, at any time during their transport. Unilode’s tracking innovation will make this a reality. I congratulate the company on their achievement and use of data to drive improvements in operational quality,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo. “Unilode is extremely proud to have won the IATA Air Cargo Innovation Award with its digital transformation program, which will improve control, visibility, transparency, accuracy and safety in the air cargo supply chain with a breakthrough end-to-end solution. Unilode’s aim is to deliver enhanced value to various stakeholders including airlines, ground handlers, shippers and freight forwarders to solve common issues relating to ULDs and cargo, and is looking forward to continuing the development and roll-out of its award-winning digitalization program,” said Benoît Dumont, Unilode’s CEO. 56 entries from across the industry, were evaluated by an independent jury which included industry experts, academics and CEOs ranging from small start-ups to large multinationals. Projects were evaluated based upon the idea, its potential to create value, and the likelihood of achieving success. Three shortlisted companies were to present their projects to over 500 audience members during the WCS closing plenary, who subsequently cast their vote for their preferred innovation project. Unilode received USD20,000 to develop their innovation.