Trendwatch: EU and U.K. strike new deal over trade rules in Northern Ireland; India’s economy slows amid sluggish consumer demand, high inflation; Biden nominates Julie Su as US Labor Secretary

EU and U.K. strike new deal over trade rules in Northern Ireland

The U.K. and the European Union have reached an agreement on new trade rules in Northern Ireland in an attempt to resolve a thorny issue that has fueled post-Brexit tensions in Europe and on the island of Ireland.

CNN reports the deal could potentially resolve the issue of imports and border checks in Northern Ireland, one of the most challenging and controversial aspects of the United Kingdom’s split from the EU. Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. but shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.

Supply Chain Brain


India’s economy slows amid sluggish consumer demand, high inflation

India’s economy grew 4.4% in the October-to-December quarter from a year earlier, weighed down by sluggish consumer demand and high inflation.

The gross domestic product figure released Tuesday for the fiscal third quarter shows a slowing of growth compared with the preceding two quarters. The economy climbed 6.3% in the period from July to September and 13.2% in the April-to-June quarter. 

“The pent-up demand is gone,” said Kunal Kundu, an India-focused economist at the Société Générale Corporate & Investment Bank. Demand surged as the country emerged in early 2022 from two years of intermittent Covid-19 restrictions. The job market also recovered from the lows of the pandemic, but many people had to accept pay cuts or move to lower-paying work, affecting their ability to spend, said Mr. Kundu.

The Wall Street Journal


Biden nominates Julie Su as US Labor Secretary

President Joe Biden said Tuesday he would nominate Julie Su to succeed Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who was closely involved in negotiations with rail and West Coast ports’ workers over the past two years.

Su has been the department’s deputy secretary since July 2021, and was the former head of California’s labor department.

“Julie has spent her life fighting to make sure that everyone has a fair shot, that no community is overlooked, and that no worker is left behind,” Biden said in a White House statement.

Supply Chain Dive


US may need new trade agreements so EV makers can meet anti-China rules

The US may need to set up a new trade consortium to meet the anti-China demands of new electric-vehicle tax credits passed by Congress last year, the head of the group that lobbies for most major automakers said Tuesday.

“We talk a lot about onshoring,” or moving production domestically, said John Bozzella, president of Washington-based trade group Alliance for Automotive Innovation, in an interview with Bloomberg News in Washington. “But you’re also hearing a term of art that people like to throw around now: friendshoring.”

“Partnership with allied nations” will be required to create new supply chains “because China has such a significant share of critical minerals,” Bozzella said.



Thailand plans multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investment to boost economy

Thailand is to invest around US$15 billion in transport infrastructure, including upgrades to its key container port, Laem Chabang, in order to boost economic growth.

The Prime Minister's office said, "The Thai government is currently promoting several large-scale water transport projects, including an industrial port development project in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) district."

Container News


Emergency drones market to expand at a CAGR of 13.1% during forecast period – by Fact.MR

According to Fact.MR, a market research and competitive intelligence provider, the global emergency drone market is estimated at US$ 4,885 million in 2023 and is expected to expand at an impressive CAGR of 13.1% during the forecast years of 2023-2033.

Drones were initially used to obtain accurate data and photographs to aid in decision-making for military and defence applications. However, drones are now used in many different industries and applications because to technical improvement.



US lawmaker concern over Mexico steel revives Trump-era conflict

Steel is threatening to become the latest area of commercial conflict between the US and Mexico after a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on the Biden administration to restore Trump-era tariffs if necessary to stem a surge in imports.

A group of more than a dozen US senators, including Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote to and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai last week, asking them to engage Mexico in talks over rising US steel imports. They cited an almost sevenfold jump in imports of steel conduit used in construction.



Hong Kong exports plunge by most in 70 years as demand plummets

Hong Kong’s exports plunged in January by the most in 70 years as waning global demand and the Lunar New Year break weighed on trade and Chinese demand remained weak, even after the mainland emerged from Covid Zero.

Overseas shipments plummeted 36.7% from a year earlier to HK$290.9 billion ($37.1 billion), the Census and Statistics Department said Monday. That was the lowest amount since February 2020 and was far worse than an expectation of a 27.6% fall in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The drop was the largest since September 1953.

Imports declined 30.2% from a year ago, compared with economists’ expectations of a 23.1% slide. The trade deficit was HK$25.4 billion.