Trendwatch: China appeals WTO ruling on Trump-Era tariffs against US goods; UK to boost power exports, helped by cheaper polluting costs; Drought restrictions in Panama Canal to continue into 2024

China appeals WTO ruling on Trump-Era tariffs against US goods

China this week appealed a World Trade Organization decision to reject the country’s tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of US products, saying the ruling was erroneous.

“China believes that the expert panel’s ruling in this case contains legal errors,” the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement Tuesday confirming the appeal. The nation is disputing the ruling by the WTO panel “to safeguard its rights and interests.”

The WTO found last month that China violated its fundamental trade commitments when it imposed the tariffs in retaliation for former President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum duties.



UK to boost power exports, helped by cheaper polluting costs

The UK will increase power sales to the continent this winter as a slump in carbon prices makes it cheaper to produce electricity at gas and coal plants.

The price gap is a consequence of the UK government’s recent decision to ease the burden on emitters as part of market reforms. A glut of permits has sent carbon prices down 50% this year, compared with less than 3% for European Union futures. That means a competitive advantage for the UK’s fleet of power stations over those on the continent.

Costs are likely to remain lower in the UK, prompting more exports along subsea cables to France, the Netherlands and Belgium. While Britain will remain a buyer overall, net imports to the island are seen just below four terawatt-hours in the first quarter, or half compared with a year earlier, S&P Global Commodity Insights said, without breaking out actual exports.



Drought restrictions in Panama Canal to continue into 2024

Restrictions on shipping going through the Panama Canal are likely to persist through 2024, canal authorities say. The Wall Street Journal reports that drought conditions that have hobbled operations and triggered big vessel backlogs are likely to persist at least into next year.

Because of the drought, the canal will continue to limit the number of ships that can pass through the canal daily to 32 from 36 in an effort to conserve the water needed to operate the 12 locks that allow ships to be lifted up and down as much as 85 feet. Water comes from Gatun Lake, via three large culverts, in order to lift the ships, and then is drained into the sea to allow the ships to descend to the next level. Each lock chamber requires approximately 27 million gallons of water.

Supply Chain Brain


Port of Los Angeles sees the first volume increase in 13 months

Cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles rose 3% YoY to 828,016 TEUs in August, marking the first increase in 13 months, port officials said.

The recent 6-year contract ratification between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association helped restore stability and confidence to customers regarding where to ship their cargo, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement.

“With this contract in effect through 2028, you can continue to count on our longshore workers and terminal operators to keep cargo moving through the nation’s busiest port,” Seroka said. “When we are operating on all cylinders like we are right now, there’s no better choice for cargo than the Port of Los Angeles.”

Supply Chain Dive


NY State court upholds trucker e-tracking regs

Intrastate New York truckers will have to use the same electronic logging devices (ELDs) as their interstate counterparts, thanks to a court decision finding no basis for a driver support organization’s regulatory challenge. The State of New York Court of Appeals ruled that the time-tracking devices used to ensure drivers follow work-hour limitations, do not result in unreasonable violation of privacy, or constitute unreasonable search and seizure.

In reaching its decision the court cited the nation’s long history regulating the trucking sector. ELDs have been required for interstate traffic since 2017 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for any driver who runs more than 150 air miles or works for than 14 hours a day.

Nearly 40 states followed the federal rule with requirements of their own, with an eye on improving highway safety. “The states wanted to fill the gap in the application of the law,” said Randy Mullett, a consultant in the areas of trucking and freight sustainability, security, and safety. “They saw it as a tool for improving highway safety and wanted to apply it to everybody.”



Strangling the flow: the impacts of overbearing regulations on California’s logistics sector

A California regulation requires all newly-registered trucks be zero emissions vehicles starting in 2024. As a result, small trucking companies are left grappling with various challenges, from growing insurance costs to restrictive employment mandates, paving the way for major corporations to take the reins. 

California's approach to sustainability could set a precedent for other states to follow. As state policies ripple across inter-connected industries and supply chains, the potential consequences could affect the entire U.S.

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U.S. flight attendants threaten strikes

Flight attendants are threatening strikes and calling for substantial wage increases and improvements in working conditions, after major U.S. airlines are reporting vast profits, post COVID-19.

The Guardian reported September 17 that workers are negotiating new contracts and campaigning hard for better pay and conditions, including the AFA-CWA, which represents more than 6,500 flight attendants at Alaska Airlines, and more than 25,000 flight attendants at United Airlines.

They are demanding a 40% wage increase — similar to the auto-workers UAW, which is currently engaged in strikes — and threatening a possible strike during the 2023 holiday season.

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