Artist's impression of the Bagamoyo SEZ Masterplan - Source: http://www.ansaf.or.tz/Investment%20...0(%20EPZA).pdf

Artist’s impression of the Bagamoyo Port and SEZ Masterplan – Source: http://www.ansaf.or.tz/Investment%20…0(%20EPZA).pdf

Growing volumes of cargo at all African ports has forced port authorities and operators to increase capacity, analyse operations to increase efficiency, and employ measures to allow bigger ships into their ports. The East Africa Region has various projects underway. The new Lamu Port in Kenya costing $5.3 billion (Reuters.com) and the Bagamoyo port in Tanzania costing $11 billion (The East African) are examples of countries preparing for the ever-growing port capacity needs. When completed in 2017, Bagamoyo will become the biggest container terminal in Africa: with a planned cargo of 20 million TEU a year; it will be 20 times larger than the port at Dar-es- Salaam and likely to rank in the top 10 terminals in the world in terms of volume capacity.

Reconfiguring port layout, and increasing berths at existing ports and conducting dredging more often, have been other strategies that numerous ports have employed to meet this need. Port of Maputo will be undertaking dredging to increase its channel depth from 11 meters to 14 meters this year, to allow larger vessels entry (Dredgingtoday.com). Tanzania will invest $523 million for new berths 13 and 14 to more than double its container capacity at Dar es Salaam Port (Tradeinvestafrica.com).

Source: portexpansioneastafrica.com

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Examples of cigarette and cigar products - Photo: GAO

Examples of cigarette and cigar products – Photo: GAO

A 2009 law that raised federal taxes to discourage smoking cost the U.S. government billions of dollars in lost revenue as manufacturers relabeled products and consumers shifted to cheaper pipe tobacco and large cigars, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report released on Tuesday.

The GAO estimated $2.6 billion to $3.7 billion in lost revenue from April 2009 to February 2014 as manufacturers exploited loopholes in the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act which raised taxes for smoking-tobacco products.

“Each of the three tobacco manufacturers that agreed to speak with us explained that their companies switched from selling higher-taxed roll-your-own tobacco to lower-taxed pipe tobacco to stay competitive,” the congressional watchdog agency said in the report, which was the focus of a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

At the hearing, Liggett Vector Brands LLC Chief Executive Ronald Bernstein urged lawmakers to take action against abuses by manufacturers.

He held up two seemingly identical, but differently labeled non-Liggett bags of tobacco. Showing a third sample, he pointed out that a label saying “all-natural pipe tobacco” covered up a statement that the bag “makes approximately 500 cigarettes.”

“Everyone knows this is cigarette tobacco,” Bernstein said. “The manufacturer knows. The consumer knows. And I know. I know because I tried smoking it in a pipe and it was not a pleasant experience.”

Some manufacturers also add a few ounces of tobacco to small cigars so they qualify as the larger product. Others even mix in clay or kitty litter to increase the weight, Michael Tynan, policy officer at the Oregon Public Health Division, told the hearing.

The GAO said the tobacco market shifted accordingly. Yearly sales of pipe tobacco rose more than eight-fold from fiscal 2008 to 2013, while sales of roll-your-own tobacco declined almost six-fold. Over the same period, large cigar sales doubled, while small cigar sales dropped to just 700 million from 5.7 billion.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, who convened the hearing, criticized the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which is responsible for collecting tobacco taxes and cracking down on evasion, for “footdragging.”

In recent years, the agency has pushed to apply “advanced investigative techniques to uncover illicit trade and fraudulent activity,” including deploying about 125 auditors and investigators, the TTB wrote in its Senate testimony.

Responding to a push to better differentiate between roll-your-own and pipe tobacco, the agency published an “advanced notice of proposed rule making” in 2010 and 2011. But no rule had yet been issued, the GAO wrote.

In 2015, the TTB will issue a proposed regulation cracking down on the illegal activities, TTB Administrator John Manfreda said on Tuesday. Source: nbcnews (contributed by Z Taylor)

CBP_0US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has extended its Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot programme for a further year following representations from freight forwarding representatives, and has reopened the application period for new participants. The pilot was set to expire this month but will now be extended until 26 July 2015, and CBP is also accepting applications for new participants until 26 September 2014.

The programme, which analyses advance data on inbound air shipments to the US to assess risk, is currently in pilot phase, but US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has signalled that it intends to expand it to apply to all inbound air cargo via a “rulemaking”. The extensions follow a letter sent in June to CBP and the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from a coalition of associations representing air freight forwarding companies, calling on the US government to solicit input from small and medium-sized forwarders before expanding the ACAS programme.

The Airforwarders Association (AfA), the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), and the Express Delivery and Logistics Association (XLA) jointly sent letters to CBP and the TSA noting their support of the concept of the ACAS programme’s risk-based analysis at the shipment level, but expressing concerns about certain issues. In addition to detailing issues regarding potential negative impacts on small and medium-sized air forwarding businesses, the letters included requests to meet with both agencies and representatives from air carriers in June to discuss the concerns and try to resolve them.

TIACA said it was strongly encouraging airlines and freight forwarders to apply for and engage in the pilot. “Only through wide participation, which can fully test the various IT connectivity issues for Advance Filing, as well as understanding the operational impact for the future, will we be able to ensure an effective programme when it becomes mandatory,” TIACA said.

It noted that this extension was for a full year, whereas CBP had only extended the pilot in six-month intervals in the past. TIACA said that following the pilot, CBP plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), “and the current estimate is that this may occur in Q3/2015, with the likelihood of possibly Q4/2015 or Q1/2016.”

It said the issuance of an NPRM is followed by a mandatory comment period from industry, after which CBP reviews all of the comments. CBP must then respond to those comments when the final rule is issued.

“Thus, ACAS may not become a mandatory CBP data transmission programme until sometime in late 2016,” TIACA noted. “In comparison, the EU PRECISE programme is currently targeted for the first half of 2016.”  Source: Lloyds Loading List

SEZ-economist.comThe roll-out of special economic zones is under way, with the first two in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State to be proclaimed shortly, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said yesterday.

The Dube trade port and the Tshiame industrial development zone in Harrismith would both be transformed into special economic zones as soon as the regulatory framework had been established, which the minister said would take place within the next 100 days.

The regulations and guidelines would be finalised. The special economics zones board would be established, as would a one-stop-shop for fast-tracked support to investors.

The Dube trade port industrial development zone will specialise in high-value, niche agricultural and horticultural products, as well as manufacturing and value-addition for the automotive, electronics and clothing industries.

The Tshiame industrial development zone at Maluti-a-Phofung near Harrismith in the Free State will focus on automotive, clothing and agro-processing activities.

Mr Davies said the department was evaluating the feasibility of special economic zones focusing on the beneficiation and value-addition of platinum in Limpopo and North West. These zones would be used to encourage investors in beneficiation to locate their plants close to the mineral deposits.

“What we know is that significant opportunities to partner with international producers of fuel cells are available, and that these partnerships have the potential for SA to become an established hub for the production of fuel-cell components,” Mr Davies said.

“This would be a very significant development because fuel cells are new technology used for back-up power generation in telecommunication masts, base-load power generation in rural areas, and fuelcell passenger vehicles.

“This technology is fast becoming the subject of intense international competition for investment and is also a technology well suited to SA’s comparative advantage in platinum mineral resources.”

The department was assessing the feasibility of a solar industrial development zone in Upington in the Northern Cape.

“We have no doubt the support available through the special economic zones programme will lead to increased investment by the private sector and contribute to building new economic infrastructure in provinces,” the minister said.

The Saldanha Bay industrial development zone was well positioned to become a hub for oil, gas and marine repair, engineering and logistics. “An application to operate as a Customs Control Area to service the West and East African offshore oil and gas industry is being finalised. To date 18 companies, nine local and nine foreign, have signed nonbinding expressions of interest.”

The Coega, Richards Bay and East London industrial development zones had together generated R3.4bn in investments and created more than 67,000 direct and indirect jobs. A number of new investments worth several billion rand were also under negotiation. Source: SAnews.gov.za

New Zealand Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says the introduction of a new state of the art drug analyser will free up hundreds of hours a year for more enforcement work at the border.

The handheld device, a Thermo Scientific FirstDefender RM, shoots a laser beam into an unknown substance, accurately identifying it in a matter of seconds.  Customs purchased it with money recovered under the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery) Act.

“The device will drastically reduce the number of substances that have to be sent away for expensive testing, with savings expected to pay for it in less than six months.

“Its effectiveness will allow Customs officers to spend at least 520 more hours each year on frontline border work because they can make decisions quickly on what investigative action, if any, is required.

In addition to the drug analyser, Customs is building a laboratory in Auckland to test unidentified chemical samples.

“The enhanced capability will help to achieve outcomes sought in the government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan and allow Customs to identify an increasing number of new psychoactive substances stopped at the border,” Ms Wagner says.

More than 11,000 substances can be identified almost instantly by the FirstDefender analyser.  It can penetrate through certain types of packaging, so opening a packet or bottle may not be necessary, which also means a safer working environment for officers. Source: New Zealand Customs (contributed by Mogen Reddy)

Old Durban airport - site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

Old Durban airport – site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

The first phase of Durban’s dig-out port, which was expected to generate hundreds of jobs and turn the city into the shipping hub of Africa, would not be ready by 2020 as planned, and the current harbour might have to be expanded to provide a short-term solution. This emerged at a KZN Freight Task Group meeting recently where Transnet dig-out port programme director Marc Descoins admitted that a new completion date was being investigated.

‘The actual start date of the new port is uncertain as we are still in the early design phase,’ Descoins said last night. Technical issues, such as the requirements for the construction of a new single buoy mooring to replace the existing one, were affecting timelines. Other factors affecting the development were being re-examined, but Descoins did not give further reasons for the delay.

Transnet was still tracking demand forecasts to ensure that capacity creation was aligned to demand, he said. Nevertheless it had other plans for port expansion to ensure capacity met this demand. If an alternative could be found to expand the capacity of the port, the dig-out port project at the old airport site could be set back by a few years, he said.

However, a previously discussed option – the expansion of the current port into the Bayhead area – was ruled out by Descoins, as complex problems involved in developing the area as an additional container terminal would take at least 15 years to resolve. Engineering and technical businesses in Bayhead did not appear shocked at the news yesterday, saying they knew expansion in the area would not happen.

One of the most seriously considered – and quickest – options would be for the container terminal on Pier 1 to be expanded in the direction of Salisbury Island. This would also provide Durban with increased container capacity. A decision on this could be made soon, but if this option was decided on, the dig-out port might be even further delayed as Transnet would not develop both projects and create unnecessary capacity in the short term.

However, the dig-out port project would not be cancelled, and preparations at the old airport site would continue, Descoins said. Transnet had warned that without the dig-out port Durban would not be able to meet medium- and long-term shipping capacity demand. The project would increase the volume of container trade at the Port of Durban from the current 2.69 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to between 9 million and 12 million TEUs over 30 years.

Durban was also the first choice for a port upgrade because of its good infrastructure, although the road and rail systems need to be considerably upgraded. Completion of the feasibility study was scheduled for the end of 2015 followed by a four-year construction phase. The first ships were expected to come into the port in 2020. For this to have been achieved groundwork would have had to begin by the end of 2016. Transnet bought the old airport land in 2012 for R1.85 billion. Building the port was expected to cost R75bn to R100bn over the next 30 years.

Desmond D’Sa, chairman of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, was pleased with the delay, but said the project should be abandoned.

‘Why do we even need another port? It is only going to become another white elephant like the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape.

‘This is all about people with big pockets, and the extra time will only allow corruption.’

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew Layman said imports and exports from the harbour were not accelerating as much as expected.

‘This is reflected in the international trading market. South Africa is not the flavour of the month.’

There had always been plans for expansion of the current harbour, he said.

‘This is because ships are bigger these days – it needs to be deepened and widened. So I don’t think it is a case of one or the other.

‘The need for the dig-out port is not as imminent as originally thought, and money is probably not as readily available either.’

Layman said it was not ‘a train smash’ as jobs had not been created yet, but it was unfortunate that job creation would be delayed.

‘It is understandable that it would be further delayed in the current climate.

‘It would be pre-emptive to start construction as the system still needs a lot of work, such as our tariffs, which are higher than most ports around the world, and our service delivery.’ Source: The Mercury

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Customs Duty ActThe Customs Control Act, 2014 (Act No. 31 of 2014) and the Customs & Excise Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No. 32 of 2014) were published in the Government Gazette on 23 July 2014. For copies of these documents lease click here!

The first batch of draft rules has also been circulated in terms of the Customs Control Act, 2014 for comment with the deadline for comments looming – 29 July 2014. The ‘draft rules’ can be located by clicking here.The rest of the rules will follow in due course. Source: SARS

All stakeholders – doing business with SARS Customs – are collectively urged to take the time and opportunity to review the draft rules as they provide further detail to the future requirements and obligations for transacting Customs business when the Customs Duty and Control Acts come into operation.

New feature on SARS website – Customs Bills History

For those interested or concerned with the status of the Customs Bills from their first circulation until now, a ‘new’ SARS webpage contains all the official copies of the Draft Bills released for public comment in 2009 and in 2010 up until they were introduced in Parliament in October 2013. All the versions of the Bills after their introduction in Parliament are available as well, up to the final versions after publication in the Government gazette as Acts of Parliament.

These Acts, when they come into operation, will replace the current Customs and Excise Act, 1964 and provide for new modernised customs legislation. The Customs and Excise Amendment Act, 2014 will amend the 1964 Act to the extent that only the excise provisions will still be in force.

Picture1The days of halting trains and unloading contents for inspection appear to be over at the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, where trained operators can now use high-power X-ray scanners to produce clear, unambiguous imagery of densely packed cargo in trains moving at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour (35 MPH).

Simultaneously, another group of operators located several miles away in a secure inspection office collect, analyze and evaluate the X-ray images for a wide range of potential threats, dangerous materials and contraband.

Because it all happens so swiftly — particularly as the containers are never unloaded or diverted individually to cargo inspection facilities — the speed of throughput increases exponentially. To be precise, Dutch Customs at the Port of Rotterdam can now inspect nearly two hundred thousand rail containers per year, or a single 40-foot container in eight-tenths of a second.

This is the future, or as in the case of Rotterdam, the present model of an enhanced global supply chain — ultra-high-speed rail throughput combined with ultra-accurate threat detection. This combination of speed and efficiency is an innovation that allows not only railways to be more secure, but the global supply chain as a whole.

Rail has long been an overlooked component of the modern supply chain, even though it is arguably one of the most important. Because of the nature of rail — with thousands of miles of unguarded track, often connecting countries — it has previously been challenging to screen and secure without causing a disruption to the supply chain. And while ports and airports typically get the lion’s share of technology innovation, all components need to be equally considered and secured to prevent interference and have a smoothly run supply chain.

For a long time, cost-minded operators have tended to view the security of rail cargo scanning and the efficiency of throughput as essentially two competing interests.

When minor security gains trigger major productivity losses — and when even small throughput disruptions can grind supply chains to a halt — it’s easy to see why rail lines have been relatively (and intentionally) under-served by global security improvement efforts.

As a result, one of the more popular rail security/efficiency compromises has been to implement a procedure for “small sample” screenings, by which only a small portion of each rail car or trainload is scanned for threats, dangerous materials, and contraband — providing a modicum of security without disrupting the core efficiency of the supply chain.

However, as malicious activities have become more prevalent and more sophisticated, “small sample” rail screenings have become increasingly insufficient. The United States Department of Homeland Security even instituted a 100% cargo-screening mandate at ports (though that mandate has since been retracted).

Accordingly, the industry has been eagerly seeking newer technology-based answers — ways to scan a larger portion of rail cargo without degrading throughput efficiency. The Dutch Customs’ solution meets higher inspection goals without detrimentally affecting the international supply chain.

Countless other customs and border agencies, companies, and national organizations are pursuing their own answers to similar and related security/efficiency challenges. For instance, rail operators worldwide are now experimenting with higher-energy X-rays for penetrating more densely packed freight cars. (When throughput lags, companies will attempt to condense their shipments into fewer cars, which can pose an obstacle for traditional X-ray scanners.)

In addition to the security factor, revenue is another motivator for government agencies to embrace this new cargo scanning technology. Customs enforcement of a freight rail (for international cargo lines) is extremely important to a country as contraband goods can cost governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax dollars. And smuggled contraband can also help fund organized crime and domestic terrorists, making it all the more important that rail lines not be overlooked when it comes to integrating cutting edge security.

In fact, a single malicious attack, occurring anywhere in the world, can devastate the global supply chain in its entirety, driving up prices and imposing major delays on manufacturers worldwide. By not being required to choose between 1) preventing extraordinary threats, and 2) maximizing the efficient of ordinary processes, the evolving technology can truly accelerate rail cargo screening and secure it too. Source: Rapiscan (Contributed by Andy Brown)

Azevêdo launches new WTO Facility [Photo: WTO]

Azevêdo launches new WTO Facility [Photo: WTO]

A new initiative unveiled at the WTO on 22 July 2014 will help developing countries and least-developed countries reap the benefits of the WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was agreed at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013.

The new Facility will complement existing efforts by regional and multilateral agencies, bilateral donors, and other stakeholders to provide Trade Facilitation-related technical assistance and capacity-building support. It will act as a focal point for implementation efforts. It will become operational when the protocol to insert the Trade Facilitation Agreement into the existing regulatory framework is adopted by WTO Members. The functions of the Facility will include:

  • supporting LDCs and developing countries to assess their specific needs and identify possible development partners to help them meet those needs
  • ensuring the best possible conditions for the flow of information between donors and recipients through the creation of an information sharing platform for demand and supply of Trade Facilitation-related technical assistance
  • disseminating best practice in implementation of Trade Facilitation measures
  • providing support to find sources of implementation assistance, including formally requesting the Director-General to act as a facilitator in securing funds for specific project implementation
  • providing grants for the preparation of projects in circumstances where a Member has identified a potential donor but has been unable to develop a project for that donor’s consideration, and is unable to find funding from other sources to support the preparation of a project proposal
  • providing project implementation grants related to the implementation of Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions in circumstances where attempts to attract funding from other sources have failed. These grants will be limited to “soft infrastructure” projects, such as modernization of customs laws through consulting services, in-country workshops, or training of officials.

South Africa, on the other hand has warned of the concerns of developing countries being sidelined under a global trade deal, adding to fears India and some African states may block the landmark Bali agreement. South African Minister for Trade and Industry further intimated that the country would have no difficulty in implementing the trade facilitation agreement but said it would “go along with” the decisions made by its allies within the WTO. Source: WTO

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china_mozTo date Chinese company Dingsheng International Investments has invested US$260 million of a total US$500 million to build infrastructure in the Manga-Mungassa Special Economic Zone, in Mozambique’s Sofala province.

Aiuba Cuereneia, Mozambique’s Minister for Planning and Development, says, “The investment was used to build basic infrastructure, including the power and water supply, roads, industrial warehouses and other facilities, as part of a project that includes construction of an administrative building, customs warehouses, and an exhibition area, as well as a hotel.”

“The infrastructure built in the Manga-Mungassa SEZ would play a crucial role in supporting manufacturing and trading companies that, in turn, would reduce the cost of the initial investment made by Dingsheng International.”

The Manga-Mungassa SEZ was set up following a July 2012 law and covers an area of 217 hectares, which may be increased to 1,000 hectares. Dingsheng International manages the SEZ. Source: macauhub

Losing-Business-On-Social-MediaOn March 13th, 2014, Sean Day, a Chicago-based wholesaler, called up the Italian branch of a leading global freight forwarder and requested a price quote for a door-to-door air freight shipment from a Rome-based apparel supplier, to his own warehouse in Chicago, IL. Within 37 minutes, he received pricing for two out of the three legs – from the Rome address to Rome’s airport, and from there to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. If that doesn’t impress you, consider that prompt price quotes for international freight shipments, are rather like four-leaf clovers. A spot quote in 37 minutes seemed too good to be true.

It was. Sean only received the final quote, including delivery to his Chicago address, four days later, on May 17th. Yes, four days.

Bear in mind that this was an air freight quote. Sean was willing to pay a substantial premium to fly his precious cargo by air, because he needed it urgently. What’s the point of splashing out on air freight, you might wonder, if you wait four days just for the price quote? Sean wondered the same thing.

At least he would have wondered, if he actually existed. In fact, our company, Freightos, created Sean, a fictional employee working at an imaginary company, as well as multiple whimsical competitors, in order to collect data on the sales process, and customer experience, of procuring international freight forwarding services. Over the course of two months, we requested dozens of air, ocean and ground quotes from five of the top fifteen freight forwarders in the world (after, of course, receiving permission from the companies). Each time, we identified ourselves as a new customer with potential for repeat business in the future.

Sean’s quoting experience was no exception. Due primarily to the archaic back-end systems so prevalent in the industry, and the lack of data sharing between fiefdoms, the average quote time was approximately 62 hours, with some quotes taking as long as a week. The quoting process was rife with other problems, ranging from vague quotations to blatant inaccuracies. In some freight forwarders, each office, or even individual sales staff, used their own price quote templates. Many forwarders had inactive contact numbers on their website. Worst of all, a staggering 43% of quote requests were simply ignored. Some way to capture new customers!

If these quotes were frustrating for the customers, they were also expensive for the vendors. We estimate a person-hour went into each. In developed countries that’s about $40. And forwarders often do five quotes for every secured order. That’s $200 wasted. For a smallish spot order, $200 is the entire profit! Click here to continue reading the full article… Source: LloydsLoading.com

Tulli+KokkolaFinnish customs has intercepted a shipment of arms on its way to Ukraine, it said on Friday, with a Finnish newspaper saying it consisted of missile system parts.

The customs said it had stopped a shipment of “defense materials” at the Helsinki Airport in late June. Daily Helsingin Sanomat said the air cargo consisted of a large number of parts used to steer missiles.

“They were defense materials on the way to Ukraine,” Sami Rakshit, head of enforcement at Finnish customs told Reuters. “They did not have the required permits.”

The air shipment was only passing through Helsinki airport when the customs discovered it, the daily said. The newspaper did not know the country of origin of the shipment, saying it came from the Far East. Customs would not comment.

The customs is investigating who the intended recipient in Ukraine was, Rakshit said

Finnish military is aiding customs in investigating the exact use for the parts of the missile system.Source: Reuters (contributed by Zarina Taylor)

Earlier this year Reuters featured a series of excellent photographs by Singapore-based photographer Edgar Su, who spent time documenting working life in and around the Port of Singapore. Connected to more than 600 ports in some 120 countries, Singapore is one of the world’s busiest shipping hubs, and is often called the gateway to Asia. It plans to increase its total capacity dramatically as it competes with other massive ports in the region such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China and Busan in South Korea. Source: Reuters

India, China, US [Picture: www.wespeaknews.com]

India, China, US [Picture: http://www.wespeaknews.com

The World Trade Organization agreed on Monday this week to side with claims against the United States made by both China and India concerning US-imposed tariffs on products exported to America.

In both instances, the WTO ruled against the US and decided in favor of the major BRICs countries, who for two years now have each asked the organization to intervene and weigh in on America’s use of tariffs to tax certain imports dating back to 2007.

With regards to both cases, the WTO’s judges ruled that the US acted “inconsistent with its agreement on subsidies and countervailing duties,” or taxes imposed on goods sold by “public bodies.”

In China, the panel agreed, US officials improperly levied those taxes against state-owned enterprises that the WTO does not consider to be “public bodies.” Instead, the WTO said, those entities were majority-owned by the Chinese government, but did not perform “government function” or exercise “government authority,” according to the Financial Times. With respect to India, the WTO again agreed that the US was wrong to similarly treat state-owned National Mineral Development Corporation as a public body, according to the International Business Times.

At issue were billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese steel products, solar panels, aluminum, paper and other goods shipped to the US after being taxed as originating from public bodies. The panel’s decision, Reuters reported, “reflected a widespread concern in the 160-member WTO over what many see as illegal U.S. protection of its own producers.”

“China urges the United States to respect the WTO rulings and correct its wrongdoings of abusively using trade remedy measures, and to ensure an environment of fair competition for Chinese enterprises,” China’s commerce ministry said in a statement.

Mike Froman, the US trade representative, responded by saying Washington was “carefully evaluating its options, and will take all appropriate steps to ensure that US remedies against unfair subsidies remain strong and effective”.

Nevertheless, Froman added that the WTO’s ruling in the Indian case constituted at least a partial victory for the US.

“The panel’s findings rejecting most of India’s numerous challenges to our laws and determinations is a significant victory for the United States and for the (US) workers and businesses making these steep products,” he told Reuters. Source: Russia Today.

5_triple-eFormer Head of Germanischer Lloyd and one of the first in the world to predict the arrival of 18,000 TEU ships, anticipates that container ships will eventually exceed 400m in length and will go beyond 19,000 TEU. “There is no technical limitation,” said Dr. Klein . But first, the ports need to be ready to handle the next generation of container ships. Although ship designers have been talking about vessels with a capacity up to 24,000 TEU, indications are that shipping lines were not looking beyond 19,000 TEU vessels as at present.

According to Ocean Shipping Consultants (OSC), a British firm of shipping consultants, preparations for 24,000-TEU sized ships are already underway and the first could be on the building blocks as early as 2016. Ships of this capacity, which is 5,000 TEU bigger than the Triple-E class, would be 430m in length and 62m in width but with a draught not exceeding 16m. OSC says that technical feasibility studies show that at-sea costs for a 24,000 TEU vessel would be 23.1% lower than that of a 12,500 TEU vessel and 17.4% lower than that of a 16,000 TEU vessel.

As reported by Ports & Ships, the appearance of these supersized ships will herald a surge in transshipment activity, which will have a detrimental effect on port terminal operators and ports alike which would have to cope with sudden increases in container activity. This would compound onto road and rail activity as well, placing further burdens on already creaking logistical systems. According to Transnet capital projects Marc Descoins, project director for the new Durban Dig Out Port, calculations that include ships of up to 22,000-TEU capacity have been factored in.

“Ships of this capacity won’t immediately be coming to South African ports,” he told Ports & Ships this week, adding that in consultation with Drewry, Transnet was advised that eventually the Triple-E class would cascade down onto North-South routes and that it would be wise to factor these in. “Our planning includes the likelihood that eventually ships of up to 22,000-TEU can be expected, so the new port will cater for this.”

Further afield – Remote-controlled ships: Can they be the future? Visualise a cargo ship with no crew and no bridge, operated remotely by a captain from a cabin on dry land. It could happen within a decade, believes the Vice President of Innovation in Marine Engineering and Technology at Rolls-Royce Holdings LLC. The technology solutions aren’t in place yet, but all the pieces are there. It is a matter of developing the technology and putting it together into systems. Rolls-Royce has been working on designs for remote-controlled cargo vessels as a first step toward overcoming widespread industry scepticism.

The European Union is funding a $ 4.8 million research project to study the feasibility of a ship operating autonomously until it nears port and a crew is taken aboard. The project, Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks, has the acronym MUNIN. In Nordic mythology, Munin was the raven sent out daily to fly around the world to gather information or the God Odin. For now though, remote-controlled cargo ships remain for beyond the horizon, unmanned ships may be technically possible, but they don’t fit a legal and regulatory environment that’s taken centuries to develop and would take years to change. Source: Ports & Ships and the Financial Times