Overseas news:

The US-China trade conflict

According to Luxembourg-based investment bank Nomura, there could be a sharp slowdown of exports from China this year, both for air and sea freight.

The consulting firm Mc Kinsey stated in a recent report that “the US–China economic equilibrium of the past 20 years has gone.”

However, there are also signs that the Chinese government wants to narrow the trade deficit with the United States.

Its Ministry of Finance announced during the end of December 2018 that it will scrap import and export tariffs on several goods. For exports in 2019, China will not levy any tariffs on 94 products including fertilisers, iron ore, slag, coal tar and wood pulp.

On its part, the United States have postponed their plans to increase at the beginning of 2019 its customs tariffs from 10 to 25%on $ 200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Nevertheless, the ceasefire in the US-China trade conflict is only temporary, the two sides may take up to March to negotiate customs tariffs before reaching a deal.

Furthermore, in the meantime, the United States intend to limit its exports of technological products to China, thus complicating the future trade negotiations.

China may enter into technological and trade agreements with European Union countries to avoid that its high-tech industry suffers from these disruptions through the US supply chain.

In addition, China is also trying to diversify its export markets especially with countries located along its Silk Road sea and road initiative. These states accounted for 27.3% of China's total foreign trade value during the first seven months of 2018.

However, these markets would be an insufficient substitute for the United States.

Moreover, the US-China trade war is also pushing several foreign companies to shift the manufacture of their labour-intensive products such as textiles, apparels, footwear…from China to other Asian countries. Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam may benefit from this production shift.

 
Posted by: Editor on Thursday, 3rd Jan 2019


Mixed fortunes for the port of Chennai

During the financial year 2017-18, the port of Chennai has managed to generate profits of Rs 320 million compared to Rs 130 million during the previous financial year. 51.88 million metric tons (MMT) were handled with container traffic representing 30 MMT.

An above average performance despite the sluggish growth in global trade and heightened competition from new ports especially the nearby port of Kattupalli.

The Chennai port authorities are optimistic about their future since the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has announced that it will resume work on the Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated expressway. This 19 km expressway consisting of six lanes will open new commercial opportunities.

However, since October 2018, the port of Chennai suffered a big blow when the shipping line Maersk moved all its operations for productivity reasons to the new Adani Group terminal located at the nearby port of Ennore. The latter has an annual capacity of 800 000 TEUs.

Maersk stated to the press in India that it sees Ennore as a potential South India gateway and expects considerable productivity benefits from a congestion-free operation there.

As a result, in October 2018, container traffic declined by 7% to 140 500 TEUs while it amounted to 150 444 TEUs the preceding month.

The port of Chennai is trying to target the transshipment of containers following the recent decision of the Indian government to liberalize cabotage and allow vessels bearing a foreign flag to transport laden cargo or empty containers between ports of India.

Furthermore, to increase its attractiveness, the port of Chennai has introduced since last July a tariff discount program for vessels handling cargo for transhipment.

Several sea carriers have expressed their interest to rework their service routings to include Chennai as a transshipment point for freight to/from the South of India.

 
Posted by: Editor on Wednesday, 5th Dec 2018


IMO 2020 raises fear of slowing down world trade



The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has established a new regulation that shipping companies will have to comply as from the 1st January 2020.

The IMO 2020 rule as the press calls it, will make it mandatory for vessels to use fuels with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5% (compared with 3.5% now). The objective is to reduce harmful emissions from ships and protect the environment.

If this measure is implemented in less than 13 months’ time, it will lead to an increase in the transportation costs of goods to and from Mauritius.

Sea carrier Hapag-Lloyd has estimated that the compliance to the IMO 2020 rule, will result in an approximately additional $ 1 billion compared to cheaper heavy fuel oil the shipping company is currently using for its fleet of 220 containerships.

These supplementary expenses will certainly be recovered from the shippers through surcharges.
During the end of October 2018, the International Maritime Organization rejected a proposal -- supported by both the U.S. and shipping groups -- for an experience-building phase. Analysts have warned that the firm implementation of the IMO 2020 regulation will undermine world trade.

Moreover, several countries such as the Bahamas, Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands have also supported the phased implementation of the IMO 2020 rule.

A spokesman from the administration of the American President Donald Trump stated to the press that “the United States supports an experience building phase, which has been proposed by several other countries in IMO 2020 in order to mitigate the impact of precipitous fuel cost increases on consumers”.

This phase-in approach would mean that the IMO 2020 rule would not have to be fully complied with until at a later date to be specified.

 
Posted by: Editor on Tuesday, 30th Oct 2018


Escalating trade war between the United States and China

The trade war between the United States and China is escalating. It is expected to slow down global economic growth.

The Chinese government has announced that it will impose customs tariffs on US goods worth US $ 60 billion, in retaliation of President Donald Trump’s decision that new tariffs will be levied on $ 200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The US tariffs which will be applied on the 24th September, will start at a rate of 10%, before rising to 25% as from the 1st January of next year.

Thousands of products from China, from food seasonings to network routers and parts of industrial machinery, will be affected.

On the other hand, the Chinese government will implement new tariffs at 5% or 10% depending on the product, entering the People’s Republic of China.

More than 5 000 goods will be impacted, including meat, alcoholic drinks, chemicals, clothes, machinery, furniture and auto parts from the United States.

The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) stated to the press that the latest move was “part of the United States continuing response to China’s theft of American intellectual property and forced transfer of American technology”.

 
Posted by: Editor on Monday, 5th Nov 2018