US President Barack Obama has created an interagency government office to investigate unfair global trade practices by countries including China, Bloomberg reports.

The Interagency Trade Enforcement Centre will sit within the US Trade Representative office, and include staff drawn from the departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Justice, State and Treasury, as well as US intelligence agencies.

"We are doubling down on the administration's commitment to strong trade enforcement," said Ron Kirk, the US Trade Representative. "We'll continue to press our trading partners" to comply with World Trade Organisation rules "and abide by obligations."

The White House budget submitted to Congress has requested US$26 million in funding for the office to include at least 50 staff. The US has filed five complaints against China at the WTO since Obama took office in 2009.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

A PIRATE attack on a containership at the north end of the Strait of Hormuz has been deterred in a live fire incident involving private shipboard armed guards, Bloomberg reports.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) the attack by three boats on the 18,830-dwt vessel at the northern-most area of the Gulf of Oman is the closest ever attack on this area.

The strait carries 20 per cent of the world's oil, and used by tankers from Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The EU Naval Force declined to name the vessel or record the attack as "gun fire was not exchanged". But the incident marks a significant move deeper into the northern most Gulf of Oman with two attacks since January, said IMB's London manager in London Cyrus Mody.

Britain has stationed the 8,000-ton destroyer HMS Daring to patrol the strait between Oman and Iran in response to Iranian threats to close the strait after western countries placed an embargo on its oil exports.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

MEDITERRANEAN Shipping Company has deployed its first 12,500-TEU vessel on its Asia-US west coast trade, with the addition of the MSC Fabiola to its Pearl River Express' service (PRX) that is jointly operated with CMA CGM.

Come mid-March and the 11,660-TEU MSC Francesca is expected to join the PRX as well. Alphaliner said the two giants were earlier participating on Far East-Europe/Mediterranean services, and most recently on the Far East-North Europe Lion service. These ships are being replaced by newbuildings of 13,000 to 14,000 TEU.

The PRX was previously operated using six ships ranging in size from 8,000-9,000 TEU. The service calls at the ports of Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shenzhen-Chiwan, Hong Kong, Shenzhen-Yantian, Long Beach and Oakland.

This development means that the two US west coast ports will be tasked with handling their largest containership so far.

Maersk Line is already deploying 10,000-TEU vessels on its transpacific trade.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

THE Westbound Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (WTSA) has recommended a new round of dry cargo rate increases by US$50 or $100 per FEU for US-Asia routes.

For shipments of dry cargo, the increase will be US$50 per FEU from Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland to Asia. And for all other cargo, the increase will be $100 per FEU for moving via all-water or intermodal service from Pacific northwest ports, from inland US points and from the US east and the Gulf Coast, according to the WTSA statement.

WTSA carriers have also reaffirmed they will fully apply higher bunker fuel surcharges set to take effect on April 1 on top of the adjusted base rates.

Regarding fuel surcharges, WTSA executive director Brian Conrad said its member carriers understand many exporters of raw commodities and semi-finished goods have low margins. But he said carriers must seek a way to reverse losses estimated at more than $5 billion worldwide last year due to slowdown in demand, decline in rates and rise in operating costs, especially the drastic increase of fuel costs.

"Since the beginning of 2012 lines have seen their fuel costs rise steadily, and recently break through the previous record levels set in mid-2008," he said.

"With bunker fuel prices now exceeding $750 per metric ton and bunker accounting for 60 per cent of operating expense on a typical sailing, absorbing any portion of that cost on a sustained basis is not an option."

He added that other challenges confront the carriers include the cargo imbalance favouring eastbound imports from Asia two-to-one, high operating costs in getting empty containers to remote inland loading points, and capacity constraints due to the mix of heavier westbound cargo and empty equipment on a typical sailing.

"All of these factors add to cost and load planning complexity and must be adequately addressed in the rate structure," he said.

But he expressed optimistic views for the outlook: "This is a moment of significant opportunity for US exporters to Asia, and carriers want to ensure that service levels - in terms of schedule reliability, space and equipment availability, accurate and timely documentation, or other requirements - are in place to maximise that opportunity."

WTSA members include APL, Cosco, Evergreen, Hanjin, Hapag-Lloyd, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), "K" Line, NYK, OOCL and Yang Ming.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

CENTRAL China's Sichuan province has invested CNY266.8 billion (US$42.3 billion) of investment in shipping and road transport construction in the past four years, hitting a record high, reports Xinhua.

The province's total expressway mileage has increased to 6,537 kilometres in the last four years, up 250 per cent compared to 2007's rate on construction. The province's first expressway to the north, the Guangyuan to Shaanxi expressway was completed and put into service in May last year, making Chengdu connected to Xian and Beijing and cracking the transport bottleneck to the north.

Currently, eight new outbound expressways were completed and 12 are under construction including these linking Shaanxi, Guizhou, Gansu and Yunnan. The province commenced 42 projects with a increase mileage of 3,887 kilometres in the four years.

The province's Yibin port has started a trial operation, serving 1,000-tonne vessels running in the Yangtze River channel below Yibin. The port handled 8,055 TEU, 370,000 tonnes of bulk cargo and 3,800 tonnes of heavy goods in 2011. It is aiming to reach a container throughput of 30,000 TEU this year.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

LAST year, Hainan province's container throughput and throughput tonnage both exceeded the benchmark level of one million TEU and one million tonnes last year, marking a step closer to the province's aim to become regional shipping centre and logistics hub, Xinhua reports.

Hainan's container throughput took over 20 years to grow from less than 10,000 TEU to 585,200 TEU in 2009, but took only two years to jump to 1.22 million TEU last year. This was stimulated by China's policy of developing the south China island into an international tourism spot issued in 2009.

The province's container shipping services have also increased to a new high of 37. Last year, port of Haikou launched feeder lines to southwest China's Fangcheng, Beihai, northern China's Qingdao and Tianjin. Port of Yangpu launches services to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong, South East Asia, Australia, US west coast and Middle East.

By 2015, Hainan plans to merge its two major ports, Haikou and Yangpu, into one port cluster. Each of the two is estimated to have a throughput of over 100 million tonnes. The aggregate throughput of all ports in Hainan will double to 227 million tonnes.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

West China's Xinjiang recorded an 11.9 per cent drop year on year in cross-border overland transport volume to 113,400 tonnes in January, reports Xinhua.

The passenger transport volume also fell 77 per cent to 16,200 person trips in the same month.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

MORE than 150 containers belonging to Ugandans will be lost as the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) moves to decongest Mombasa Port.

Kampala City Traders Association spokesman Issa Ssekitto said more than 150 containers at the port belong to Ugandans who stand to lose billions of shillings (UGX1 = US$0.0004) when they are auctioned by the port authority to ease congestion, reports the Kampala Daily Monitor.

"Unfortunately, we [the association] cannot do anything right now. We have done everything possible to have these containers saved. We have written letters to all property owners reminding them about the special waiver that was put in place, some responded while others didn't," he added.

Last December the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) announced a waiver on all containers that had stayed at the port for more than six months. The Ports Authority had then sought to decongest the port.

A special waiver on storage some charges on all overstaying containers that expired March 1 was put in place. However, more than 200 containers are still in Mombasa. The KPA have placed bids for auctioneers to dispose of the boxes in the port and at the inland container depots.

According to KPA, overstayed containers are those that have been left at Mombasa port or in the inland container depots for more than 100 days.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

THE Israeli authorities have announced that a new container security procedure will be implemented on boxes booked for Haifa and Ashdod, but unloaded from the vessel at the other port.

According to Israel's Port2Port news site, in the first stage of the new security rule, imported containers considered to be risky by a customs profiling system and unloaded at the port of Haifa, under an Ashdod bill of lading, will be X-ray screened before departing to Ashdod. But imported containers considered to be risky will be moved without screening.

In the final stage, this new procedure will be implemented on containers booked for the ports of Haifa or Ashdod, but in fact unloaded from the vessel at the other port, and moved at the expense of the ocean carrier by rail or truck, prior to customs clearance.

The ocean carrier and/or the customs broker or forwarding agent, has no direct or indirect control over these container security inspections, which will lead to delays and extra expenses, the report said.

The extra costs are due to port fees, loading and unloading truck at the port, transfer costs to X-ray screening area, return the container to the port, warehousing (if applicable) and waiting time at the X-ray screening area (if applicable), which will be charged to the importer upon release of the delivery order.

The ocean carriers intend to roll these higher operating costs onto the importers, as per the tariff table that will be distributed at later stage. These new expenses are expected to impact containers being moved under DDU/ DAP /DDP terms.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

THE Netherlands will supply two top quality container scanners to boost Israeli security and enhance Palestinian trade by ending cumbersome unloading and reloading of open palletised cargo for individual pallet scanning that increased costs and transit times.

The Dutch government said the scanners at the Allenby Bridge could increase the amount of trade flowing through the crossing by up to 33 per cent, something that will "help the Palestinian economy grow", Reuters reports.

Dutch Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Dutch Major General Eitan Dangot, said the scanners would also safeguard Israel's security.

As it stands West Bank exports must be loaded into boxes on pallets, then placed on trucks. The trucks then go to the Allenby Bridge Crossing where each pallet is scanned by a pallet scanner, and then re-loaded onto Jordanian trucks waiting on the other side of the border.

These trucks then drive to the Jordanian Port of Aqaba where the pallets are unloaded again, the boxes of pitchers taken out and then re-packed into containers for export, greatly adding to costs and transit times.

New container scanners will allow product to be loaded in containers at factories, and without further inspection move to the ship, reducing damage, theft and exposure to weather.

Former British prime minister, and a Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, was instrumental in brokering the deal. He said the scanners at the Allenby Bridge could increase Palestinian trade by US$35.5 million a year, which would yield $10.4 million a year to the Palestinian Authority in taxes.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

TAIWAN's Evergreen Line is to resume services to North America to South America in a joint service with NYK, HMM and Hanjin on their USEC-ECSA 'ANS' service following its suspension of services three years ago.

The Atlantic North South Service (ANS) service will deploy six 2,500-2,700-TEU vessels boosting existing capacity by over half with one each provided by Evergreen (unknown capacity), Hanjin (2,553 TEU) and HMM (2,754 TEU). Three of these will be larger units of 2,664 TEU from NYK. Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Ming will co-load on this service.

ANS operates a port rotation of 42 days as follows: Norfolk; New York; Savannah; Miami; Caucedo, Dominican Republic; Santos, Brazil; Navegantes, Brazil; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Vitoria, Brazil; Caucedo, Dominican Republic; Norfolk.

Evergreen first entered the North America to South American trade over a decade ago in its stand alone Evergreen Inter America service deploying seven vessels of 1,100 TEU. A year later it ended the service to slot-share with Lykes/Crowley USA-ECSA until January 2009, according to Paris-based Alphaliner.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

SOUTH CAROLINA governor Nikki Haley vetoed a bill that lawmakers had passed to suspend the authority of a South Carolina state agency after it granted a permit last year to dredge the Savannah River.

The permit was approved by the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) board in November, even though the agency's staff had originally rejected the application, the American Shipper reported.

The permit is opposed by environmentalists, and is also controversial because it benefits the terminals in Savannah operated by the Georgia Ports Authority which is in strong competition with the South Carolina State Ports Authority's facilities in Charleston.

Governor Haley said in her veto message that the joint resolution, which was unanimously approved by both South Carolina's House and Senate, "amounts to unconstitutional legislative overreaching into an agency's ruling" and "reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about the administrative process."

At issue is a water quality permit that DHEC approved last year, which is also being challenged in court. In December, the Environmental Law Centre claimed the 38-mile deepening project would deplete the Savannah River's dissolved oxygen needed by shortnose sturgeon and devastate hundreds of acres of swamp.

Meanwhile, it's been reported that the governor has asked President Barack Obama to find more money to deepen Charleston and other Atlantic ports so the state can accommodate larger ships expected in greater numbers after the Panama Canal is widened in 2014.

"If we don't get our ports actually deep enough to be able to accept those big ships, we are going to have a wasted opportunity and watch the Caribbean be the ones to benefit," she said.

Governor Haley also called for faster approval of deepening projects by the Army Corps of Engineers and for use of money from the Harbour Maintenance Trust Fund for deepening projects.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

THE Guangxi Civil Aviation Development Co, a unit of Guangxi Airport Management Group, operating freight forwarding and ground services business at all airports in Guangxi, handled 10,500 million tonnes of air cargo during the Chinese New Year traffic peak period from early January to mid February, an increase of 11 per cent year on year.

The company recorded an aircraft movement of 20,200 flights during this period, up 10.7 per cent. It also handled over 9,000 tonnes of luggage, up 12 per cent, Xinhua reports.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

THE federal US government is proposing new legislation that would require pilots to clock up six times more flight training hours to qualify as a co-pilot on a commercial airline or cargo freighter.

Subject to approval, the Federal Aviation Administration regulation would force pilots to receive 1,500 hours of flying time compared to the current rule of 250 hours to become a first officer. Furthermore, the authorities are also demanding new training programmes for specific aircraft.

"Our pilots need to have the right training and the right qualifications so they can be prepared to handle any situation they encounter in the cockpit," FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta was quoted as saying in a Reuter's report.

The tabling of the new bill follows in the wake of a 2009 crash of a commuter plane in Buffalo that killed 50 people, in which investigators determined that the crews failure to address a problem when preparing to land was to blame for the tragedy.

The report said the new regulation is targeted at mainly pilots who fly commuter or smaller feeder planes.

The FAA proposal is subject to a 60-day comment period.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

MIDAMERICA St Louis Airport has been granted approval from the St Clair County Board to issue US$550 million in "conduit" revenue bonds, to realise the goal of developing the airport into a hub for regular air cargo flights to mainland China.

The bond was issue on behalf Strategic Air Cargo Inc, a report by Belleville, News-Democrat said.

It said the $550 million bond issue for MidAmerica will pay for a new air cargo fleet, without providing further details.

Terry Beach, the county economic development director, was quoted as saying that the vote to authorise the sale of the initial $60 million in bonds "is just the initial step to try to move the project forwards."

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

The magazine SEA has been published since 1935
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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
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