What's happening in US





Impact of the illegal migrant tide on the new NAFTA - the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade

When unauthorised US-Mexican border crossings hit 100,000 a month, former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted that the situation had become an "urgent national crisis".

Such statement coming from such a man pretty much silenced Democratic Party screaming that this was a "fake emergency". Yet never-Trumper media critics persisted in saying with ill-concealed delight that Trump's threats delivered via twitter had left him hopelessly trapped.

Little logic underpinned such assertions, typified by a fulminating headline in the Washington Post: "Trump's convoluted, confused threat to impose new tariffs on Mexico".

While the report below the disparaging headline plainly said why US President Donald Trump thinks his scheme will work, the Washington Post journalist says such a stance was ridiculous because he had previously given undertakings not to resort to such measures.

More cargo syphoned from US west to east coast via Panama as dredging opens eastern ports to big ships

One of the more extraordinary things to happen in world shipping was the growing shift of the burgeoning Asian import volume from the US west coast to the east coast. This came about partly because of the expansion of the Panama Canal from a time when it could only accommodate the transit of panamaxes of 4,500-TEU to a time when it could accommodate "neopanamaxes" of 13,000-TEU. But other equally important factors contributed to the shift too.

The main takeaway from this development is that it continues steadily to this day as cargo statistics show. Nationally, according to Newark's Journal of Commerce west coast ports continued to lose market share in the Asia import trade, dropping to 64.2 per cent of total US Asian imports from 71.9 per cent in 2013. East coast ports increased market share to 31.3 per cent from 25.8 per cent, and Gulf Coast ports to 4.1 per cent from 1.9 per cent in 2013.

Even those who first planned to exploit this situation - chiefly the Port of Savannah even before then canal expansion work began, failed to fully appreciate what a good bet theirs was, thinking at first that the expanded canal, when once reopened in four years, would double capacity so that 9,000-TEU ship could transit. This was a time when the world's biggest box ship was the 14,000-TEU Emma Maersk, forever, it seemed at the time, consigned to the Asia-Europe trade because that trade had the only ports that could accommodate these new sea monsters.

Looking back at NAFTA, hoping to taste fruits of Trump's embryonic USMCA before 2020

As summer approached this year, victorious House Democrats in the United States found themselves looking for reasons to support President Donald Trump's United States - Mexico - Canada Agreement (USMCA), the one cannot replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement until the new version has been ratified.

Democrat standing policy of knee-jerk opposition to anything President Donald Trump does or says would no longer do because in the case of the USMCA, its failure to be ratified by the House of Representatives could no longer be blamed on the Republicans who no longer control the House. It would be clearly be the fault of Democrats who are more in control of events than they had been in years.

And the new deal has many Democrat-friendly features. Compared to NAFTA, the USMCA increased environmental and labour regulations and incentivises more domestic production of cars and trucks. The agreement also provides updated intellectual property protections, and gives the US access to Canada's dairy market while imposing a quota for Canadian and Mexican automotive production, and increasing the duty free limit for Canadians who buy US goods online from US$20 to $150.

Human obstruction must end before automation can be fully introduced to the American waterfront

The last redoubt of the Luddite, the enemy of labour-saving automation, is on the waterfront where dockers from Montreal to Melbourne have resisted technological change more effectively than in any other industry.

Where else can one hear arguments, or for what passes for arguments, to buttress resistance to automation, like the grandstanding from the US west coast International Warehouse and Longshore Union: “Robots do not pay taxes. Robots do not shop in our communities. Robots do not vote!”

Certainly such things are not said, much less heeded, in other industrial sectors where new technology has been introduced unimpeded. If it is more efficient, safer, more environmentally friendly and if the general public is to benefit, then technology is introduced. Displaced workers can complain, of course, but they are not entitled to the last word as they appear to have on the waterfronts of North America if not the world.


U.S. Trade Specialists

Recent Issue

Intra Asia Trade

May, 2019

Mediterranean & Africa Trade

Apr, 2019

China Trade

Mar, 2019

Europe Trade

Feb, 2019