What We're Reading: Trendwatch Week 50

The UK holds another election to determine Brexit and Britain's future

Voters in the United Kingdom head to the polls Thursday for a crucial election that could determine the country's future and how and when it will break off of the European Union.

This will be the fifth major vote in the country in under five years — including two previous general elections, European Parliament elections and the Brexit referendum — a sign of how chaotic British politics have become.

The stakes are high, voters are weary and the two main candidates for prime minister are especially polarizing.

Source: NPR


US advances new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the replacement to the 25-year-old trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico is now ready to move forward to ratification.

“There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the [Trump] administration,” Pelosi said in a Dec. 10 news conference.

Source: Freight Waves


Trucking faces ‘messy middle’ on road to electrification

The electrification of commercial trucks is edging closer but the industry first must go through a “messy middle” that sorts out the future of diesel and other alternative fuels, according to a new study by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE).

Even as battery and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric get most of the attention as the future of powertrains, improved diesel, natural gas, hybrid and other alternatives have roles to play as they mature amid the transition to an electric future.

Source: Freight Waves


US and Chinese trade negotiators planning for delay of December tariffs

US and Chinese trade negotiators are laying the groundwork for a delay of a fresh round of tariffs set to kick in on Dec. 15, officials on both sides said, as they haggle over how to get Beijing to commit to massive purchases of U.S. farm products on which President Trump is insisting for a near-term deal.

In recent days, officials in Beijing and Washington have signaled that Sunday isn’t the final date for reaching a so-called phase-one deal—even though that is the date Mr. Trump has set for tariffs to increase on $165 billion of Chinese goods. That date could be extended, as has happened several times when the two sides thought they were on the verge of a deal. Those prior deals, though, never held and tariffs continued to mount.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


US business plagued by trade confusion as new tariffs loom

As U.S.-China trade talks undergo more advances and setbacks than a ping-pong match, South Carolina businessman John Ling is increasingly pessimistic that any meaningful trade deal will be reached under President Donald Trump.

“I’m becoming very doubtful there will be any deal that would solve the current problem,” said Ling, a consultant for Chinese companies doing business in the U.S.

The past week has cast the outlook for a trade deal between the U.S. and China into deeper confusion. Trump rattled markets last Tuesday by suggesting a phase-one trade deal may have to wait until after the 2020 elections. Then, two days later, the president said the talks are “moving right along” and people familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg News the sides are close to agreeing on a pact.

Source: Supply Chain Brain


Port Houston sets new records at container terminals

Port Houston’s Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals continue to grow, and gate transactions – which track the number of containers delivered or picked up at the terminals - recently reached new heights. Bayport Terminal completed a record 1,076 gate transactions in a single hour on November 11, 2019 and Barbours Cut Terminal achieved a new milestone in September, with 3,839 gate transactions in a single day. Another record: on August 28, the terminals reported a combined 11,081 completed gate transactions, the most ever in a single day for Port Houston. Port Houston’s efficiency continues at a high pace as well, as these terminals have established and maintained an average truck turn time of 39 minutes this year.

Source: American Journal of Transportation