What We're Reading: Trendwatch Week 49

US proposes tariffs on $2.4B in French goods

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is proposing tariffs on $2.4 billion in French goods at a rate of up to 100% in response to France's Digital Services Tax (DST), which the Trump administration says discriminates against U.S. companies, according to a Monday notice. 

The USTR named Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon as companies that could be harmed by the new tax in France, according to the report issued by the agency Monday. In a statement, the USTR said it was considering similar investigations in Austria, Italy and Turkey. 

Source: Supply Chain Dive


Ocean shipping in crossfire again as trade war reignites

Hope for a cease-fire in America’s multi-front trade war has dimmed after a barrage of hawkish new U.S. statements toward China, France, Brazil and Argentina. For ocean shipping, fallout suffered in 2019 now appears likely to extend well in 2020 — not just in terms of lost demand, but also, lost investor interest.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Dec. 3, “I think it is better to wait until after the election [to conclude a China trade deal] if you want to know the truth.”

Source: Freight Waves


Carriers must train their crews for IMO 2020 or risk criminality, warns seafarer union

Seafarer representatives are increasingly worried that the forthcoming IMO 2020 low-sulphur regulations could result in a spate of criminal convictions.

Seafarer union Nautilus International said a recent case involving a P&O Cruises vessel in the North Europe special emission control area (SEVA), which extends from the Channel to the Baltic Sea, set a worrying precedent, following which seafarers could find themselves with a criminal conviction if they fail to correctly manage the switchover to low-sulphur fuel for the beginning of next year.

Source: The Loadstar


Panama Canal: Upholding a legacy of sustainability in a shifting landscape

Late last month, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its Review of Maritime Transport 2019. The report addressed the industry’s quickly shifting landscape and range of challenges, making one rising concern very clear – climate change.

The maritime sector is increasingly facing more intense and frequent natural disasters and climate-related disruptions, affecting shipping operations around the world. UNCTAD cited such consequences as the closing of ports in Asia due to the increasing number of hurricanes and typhoons, as well as the impact of low rainfall on the passage of vessels across Europe and through the Panama Canal.

Source: American Journal of Transportation


Korean shipyard mega-merger hits a bump in Singapore

A South Korean plan to create a shipbuilding behemoth controlling roughly 20% of the global market is raising competition concerns in Singapore, one of many parties that have to approve the process.

Seoul announced the merger of debt-ridden Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. in January, but the tie-up needs regulatory approvals from Japan, Singapore, China, Kazakhstan and the European Union to be sealed.

Source: The Wall Street Journal 


Trump to bring back tariffs on Brazilian, Argentinian steel

Brazil is a major source of steel imports for the U.S. — second only to Canada in export volume with 403,599 metric tons imported in October. Argentina is a considerably less significant steel trading partner at 11,046 metric tons in October according to the Census Bureau. 

Though Trump's main reasoning for this global tariff war — which now encompasses China, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Mexico — has been trade imbalances between the U.S. and its trading partners, the President has focused on currency manipulation in recent months as a secondary justification. 

Source: Supply Chain Dive