Trendwatch: Macron asks EU’s Von der Leyen to stop Mercosur trade deal; New Brexit food checks will test Britain’s supply chains; Boeing pulls Max 7 safety waiver request in bow to pressure

Macron asks EU’s Von der Leyen to stop Mercosur trade deal

Emmanuel Macron stepped up his opposition to a trade deal between the European Union and the South American Mercosur bloc as he is faced at home with farmer protests sparked in part by foreign competition.

The French president contacted European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen last week with a plea to end the current round of negotiations, according to people familiar with the matter.

A government spokeswoman, Prisca Thevenot, confirmed that France told the head of the EU’s executive arm that the deal shouldn’t proceed unless farmers in four South American nations are subjected to the same environmental rules as those in Europe. The European Commission declined to comment, referring to its practice of not commenting on bilateral conversations.

The EU and the Mercosur countries — Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — have been in talks to clinch a trade accord for more than two decades. An agreement was announced in 2019 but never implemented amid new EU environmental demands.


New Brexit food checks will test Britain’s supply chains

This time, the government are really going to do it. There is no going back. They are going to push the button on a new type of trade border coming into Great Britain from the continent.

In industry, it's being called Brexit 2.0. At least, that is the more polite version of the name for the imposition of a series of new post-Brexit requirements in Britain for food importers.

It is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle of the changes necessary after the UK's exit from the EU's customs union and single market.

The most high profile changes for food and plant product imports from the European Union start to be phased in on Wednesday, after a series of delays.


Boeing pulls Max 7 safety waiver request in bow to pressure

Boeing Co. withdrew a request for a key safety exemption that would have helped speed approval of its coming 737 Max 7 aircraft, bending to rising pressure to prioritize safety in the wake of a near-catastrophe on one of its planes.

The concession on the de-icing requirement comes days after Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth called on the Federal Aviation Administration to reject the company’s petition for a waiver for the yet-to-be certified Max 7.

The US planemaker will instead engineer a solution to address the engine inlet de-icing system during the certification process, Boeing said in a statement late Monday.

“The FAA will determine the timing of certification and we will follow their lead every step of the way,” Boeing said. “We’re committed to being transparent, listening to all our stakeholders and taking action to strengthen safety and quality.”


Fed in a trust-but-verify moment as inflation falls

WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - In economic projections issued after their December meeting U.S. Federal Reserve officials on balance saw a measure of underlying inflation ending 2024 at 2.4%, with the lowest of individual estimates at 2.3%.

Economists note that would require inflation to reaccelerate from its current six-month trend of just 1.9%, something many consider unlikely given the underlying math is already leaning towards at least a few more months of slowing.

If central bankers have penciled in three-quarters-of-a-percentage-point in interest rate cuts on the basis of December's outlook, what happens in their next projections in March when they may well have to reduce inflation estimates another notch?


USDOT and FRA continue pressing on rail safety, finalizes NS Railway participation into C3RS

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) will officially join a pilot program of the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) in partnership with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD). As a result of the agreement, NS employees represented by BLET and SMART-TD in Atlanta, Georgia; Elkhart, Indiana; and Roanoke, Virginia, will be able to confidentially report unsafe events that they experience while being protected from NS discipline. The program has been proven to improve rail safety.

USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on all Class I freight railroads to join this vital reporting program nearly a year ago – after the NS derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Every Class I railroad agreed to join – yet NS is the only one that has joined. Today's agreement comes after months of FRA-led meetings and collaboration with worker representatives and NS to secure the first group of Class I freight railroad employees to currently participate in C3RS. USDOT and FRA continue to expect the remaining Class I freight railroads, all of which committed to joining C3RS in March 2023, to make good on their commitment.