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JOC 2/4/13 - Long Beach Board Wants More for Environment Print E-mail

 

Long Beach Board Wants More for Environment

 

Calling for additional clean-air measures at a proposed BNSF near-dock intermodal yard, the Long Beach Harbor Commission wants developers to look into zero-emission trucks and a buffer zone to protect neighboring communities.

 

The commission voted Monday to direct port staff to work with the Long Beach city administration in demanding additional environmental safeguards at the $500 million Southern California International Gateway project.

 

The proposed 153-acre intermodal yard, which would be located adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroads Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, is located in an industrial area in the city of Los Angeles, but it abuts a residential area of west Long Beach.

 

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission recently approved the environmental impact report for the SCIG facility. The next step in the approval process is for the Los Angeles City Council to take up the issue in the coming weeks.

 

Groups that have concerns with the proposed SCIG project are preparing to challenge the EIR as it now stands before the Los Angeles City Council. In addition to the city and Port of Long Beach, the Natural Resources Defense Council and neighborhood groups are expected to express their opposition to the city council.

 

As a regional initiative, the SCIG appears to be an acceptable strategy. Intermodal containers currently must be trucked from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the BNSF Hobart yard, more than 20 miles away, near downtown Los Angeles. If SCIG is built, about 1.5 million truck trips a year would be removed from the Long Beach Freeway and would travel only four miles to the new BNSF yard.

 

However, Long Beach does not want to shoulder the entire environmental burden of both the truck traffic and the pollution that would result in a neighborhood that includes schools and residences.

 

Long Beach interests want a firm commitment by the developer, with timelines, to work toward zero-emission vehicles, such as electric trucks, to move containers from the harbor to the intermodal rail transfer yard.

 

Trucks that serve the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex are already the cleanest in the nation because of the ports clean-trucks programs. The 2007 and 2010 model-year trucks mandated for use in the harbor have reduced harmful diesel emissions by more than 80 percent.

 

BNSF also anticipates increased use of LNG-powered trucks, which are even cleaner than clean-diesel trucks. The railroad has also pledged to incorporate electric yard equipment and clean switcher locomotives into the operation.

 

However, local residents feel more can be done to reduce emissions. In addition to cleaner trucks, suggestions include creation of a buffer zone around the yard, and modifications to the Terminal Island Freeway and Alameda Street to improve truck flow from the harbor to the SCIG site.


JOC 2/4/13 - Shippers Weigh Options as HIT Strike Continues Print E-mail

 

Shippers Weigh Options as HIT Strike Continues

 

Lines and shippers are making contingency plans in the event the dockworker strike at facilities operated by Hongkong International Terminals is protracted.

 

Protests for higher pay by members of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers have been staged at HITs terminals since March 28, causing vessel and truck delays at the worlds third-biggest container port in terms of volume.

 

Although a High Court injunction was granted to HIT late Monday forcing strikers to vacate company property, protests continued Tuesday near port entrances.

 

A spokesperson for HIT told the JOC the dispute is impacting operations and causing vessel delays, although she would not comment on local reports that claimed average berthing delays had climbed to 60 hours.

 

A special task force has been formed by HIT to oversee the development of the situation, and contingency procedures have been activated, she said. HIT has also been relocating internal resources and manpower to sustain the operation of the terminals over the past few days.

 

As the action continues and the number of protestors grows, port stakeholders are making preparations in case the dispute is prolonged.

 

We understand that the strike at HIT in Hong Kong has impacted productivity, and if the situation continues, we will consider options and work with our customers to minimize the impact on their shipments, said Stephen Ng, director of trades at Hong Kong-based line OOCL.

 

SBS Worldwide has warned its customers that the dispute could worsen, and is offering alternative routings and air freight possibilities for urgent shipments.

 

Sunny Ho, chief executive of the Hong Kong Shippers Council, admitted shippers were concerned the dispute could drag out because unions supporting workers were well funded. Shippers have options, he said. Exporters can use Shenzhen ports if the situation deteriorates.

 

Port users contacted by the JOC said operations had only suffered minimal interference so far.

There has been some delays at the gate, but disruption has not been very significant, and we havent had any advisories from lines saying they are skipping calls at the port, Ho said. Its the slack season, so cargo turnover is only about half compared to the peak season, so there is not a lot of pressure at the port.

 

Paul Tsui, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics, said that although HITs facilities were affected by strikes, other terminals at the port were operating unhindered. Should the situation worsen, he said the most obvious means of diverting cargo to and from Hong Kong would be using feeder vessels via Shenzhen in mainland China.

 

HIT is encouraging its contractors ¬ third parties that employ the striking dockers that usually man HITs terminals ¬ to open talks with employees in a bid to resolve the situation. We are also looking into the workers concerns regard working conditions, said the spokesperson, who claimed some contractor-workers were returning to work.

JOC 2/4/13 - Middle East Air Cargo Growth Risks Protectionist Backlash Print E-mail

 

Middle East Air Cargo Growth Risks Protectionist Backlash

 

The latest IATA cargo figures again show the Middle East is the only region posting significant year-on-year traffic growth in a flat lining global market.

And if the trend continues into the second half of the year, when the global market is expected to return to growth, it could trigger a protectionist backlash, particularly in Europe.

 

The latest figures paint a dramatic contrast between the Middle East, particularly the Gulf, and other regions.

 

Middle East carriers freight traffic grew by 12.3 percent in February from a year ago and was up 0.8 percent on the previous month, according to IATA. Asia-Pacific carriers saw volume collapse 14.7 percent, largely due to factory closures during the Chinese New Year holiday. North American traffic dipped 3.1 percent, reflecting the fragility of the revival in U.S. consumer demand. Europe was down 5.4 percent from February 2012 amid persistent euro zone weakness. The once dynamic Latin America market saw international traffic dip 0.2 percent, and the much-hyped African market was up just 2 percent.

 

Even after adjusting for one-off factors, Middle East carriers are trouncing their rivals. They carried 15.3 percent more freight in January than a year ago while Asia-Pacific airlines were up just three percent after stripping out the impact of an export rush ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays.

 

This latest success of Middle East airlines, which is also reflected in the higher-profile passenger segment, is sure to inflame protectionist passions in competing aviation markets.

 

Just days before IATA published its February figures, the chief executive of Air France-KLM, a European leader in passenger traffic and until recently cargo too, urged European Union governments not to give Emirates and other Gulf airlines further access to their markets until they prove they are competing on a level playing field.

 

It would be suicide for European airlines to lift current restrictions on Gulf carriers flying into European airports without getting assurances about fair competition, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, told the Financial Times.

 

Gulf carriers likely get cheaper finance because they are state-owned and benefit from lower user fees at their hub airports, according to Spinetta. If you compete with [Gulf airlines] in an open sky situation, its sort of suicide. It means European air will disappear.

 

Spinetta isnt saying something that hasnt been aired by other European airline executives in recent years. Lufthansa Cargo raised the specter of Gulf airports replacing Frankfurt as a global hub during its campaign against a night flight ban at its home base, to no avail. A court made the ban permanent, and Dubai has already overtaken Frankfurt in the global cargo airport rankings.

 

The special pleading by European carriers will get louder in the coming weeks as the European Commission, the EUs executive, negotiates with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for afair competition agreement.

 

The Gulf airlines have sought to buy off the hostility to their spectacular growth by forging partnerships with European carriers and joining global alliances rather than launching takeovers of more vulnerable airlines to move into their domestic markets.

 

Its different in the cargo sector, which is much smaller than the passenger business and has less political clout. Some European carriers, led by Air France-KLM, are also shrinking their freighter operations and retreating to the more profitable belly-cargo business.

 

Lufthansa is still making good money from cargo, but it expects to be overtaken by Emirates soon as the Gulf carrier ramps up its freighter capacity to fill the hole left by retreating European and Asian airlines.

 

Qatar Airways also recently stressed it still intends to be a top five global cargo operator by 2018 despite divesting its 35 percent interest in Cargolux after a dispute over strategy for Europes biggest all-cargo carrier. The Gulf carrier, headed by former Cargolux boss Uli Ogiermann, is adding four freighters ¬ three A330s and a 777 ¬ to its current five all-cargo aircraft this year to keep pace with 20 percent annual growth. The small Gulf nations cargo ambitions will be underscored next week when it opens a new $16 billion airport with an annual capacity of 1.4 million tons.

 

Etihad Airways is boosting its cargo exposure, too, even as industry leaders like Hong Kongs Cathay Pacific are downsizing their freighter fleets in line with flat global demand. The Abu Dhabi-based airline, which boosted freight traffic by 19 percent in 2012, is adding two 777 freighters and an A330 freighter to its fleet this year.

 

But the Middle Eastern challenge to the established order goes beyond tiny Gulf emirates desperately seeking ways to invest their surplus petrodollars. The regions biggest player is Saudi Airlines Cargo, which recently acquired its first two 747-8Fs to expand its fleet to 15 freighters within a couple of months. The airline, which increased its freight traffic by 18 percent to 570,000 tons in 2012, is tapping new markets, particularly between Asia and Africa, at a time of sluggish growth on Asia-Europe routes that has forced its larger competitors to cull capacity.

 

The rise of the Middle East as a cargo powerhouse is shaking up the global air freight business and could yet trigger a backlash in the established markets. But as Asian and European airlines focus on passengers, the region is set to play an increasingly important role in international supply chains.

JOC 2/4/13 - Air Cargo Demand Continues Modest Upward Trend Print E-mail

 

Air Cargo Demand Continues Modest Upward Trend

 

Demand for air cargo showed modest improvement in February, continuing the trend that began in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data released by the International Air Transport Association.

 

This is welcome news after two consecutive years of contraction, said Tony Tyler, IATAs director general and CEO, in a written statement. It is even better news that this growth is expected to pick up moderately as the year progresses.

 

Seasonally adjusted cargo volume in February improved by 2.5 percent from the October 2012 low point, but dropped by 6.2 percent compared with February 2012. However, the year-over-year comparison was skewed; February 2012 had an extra day from Leap Year, and the Chinese New Year occurred in January 2012, but February 2013. After compensating for these abnormalities, IATA said, the data showed that air cargo was actually up by 2 percent in February compared with the same month in the previous year.

 

The Middle East again posted strong growth year-over-year, even as other regions saw weak increases or even drops.

Shpg Gazette 3/4/13 - China scraps tariffs on technical equipment it cannot produce itself Print E-mail

 

China scraps tariffs on technical equipment it cannot produce itself

 

CHINA will scrap import duties on a range of technical gear it finds difficult to produce itself, from April 1, announced the Ministry of Finance.

 

Solar cell equipment, signalling systems for high-speed railways and manufacturing equipment for flat-panel display screens are listed as tax exempt items, according to a statement on the ministry website.

 

The ministry also re-imposed import taxes on some goods, including hydraulic support equipment, with effect from April 1, Reuters reported.

 

China has cut import duties on 780 products earlier this year, including consumer products, manufacturing equipment and environment-friendly products, said the report.

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