Manuel Coronel Kautz isn’t a man who’s easily deterred. Good thing. Because as head of Nicaragua’s Canal Authority, he’s seen the $50 billion, Chinese-backed project suffer setback after setback. The latest: 12 months of construction delays on a key port just as financial turmoil in China deepens speculation the funding won’t come through.
Three years after President Daniel Ortega awarded the 170-mile long project to Hong Kong-based HKND Group, topographical and archaeological studies are nearing completion, Kautz said. … The viability of the project, which would be 300 miles (480 kilometers) from the century-old Panama Canal, has been questioned by shipping experts and engineers since Ortega first announced his plans and the Central American country’s legislature awarded the contract without accepting competing bids.
“I think the canal only exists in Ortega’s head,” said 24-year-old university student Yader Sequeira, who lives in the town of El Tule near the canal route. “Absolutely nothing is happening.”
More at Bloomberg
From Marine Link:
The merger between China Shipping group and the Cosco Group has given rise to a mammoth company that could trigger stability and extended consolidation in the global shipping industry, says a report in the WSJ.
The merger will free the two Chinese shipping groups from competing against each other at home and abroad, in an industry swamped with oversupply and depressed freight rates.
While shipping mergers are rare, when companies of such size come together, further consolidation likely will follow, say industry observers. One example came in December, when French shipping company CMA CGM SA agreed to buy Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. for about $2.4 billion.
More at Marine Link
Coast Guard inspectors ordered a containership to remain at the Port of Tacoma until the ship’s owners correct safety defects that could endanger the ship and its crew.
The Westwood Robson, a 685-foot Liberian-registered ship, failed a Coast Guard inspection last week because of defects, including oil-soaked rags in the machinery spaces, oil in the ship’s bilge, clogged oil drains and deteriorated and leaking oil and water fittings. The leaks could cause a fire, the Coast Guard said.
More at the News Tribune
The Kimberly-Clark property in Everett, WA, is a prime spot to expand port operations.
After years of watching the former Kimberly-Clark Corp. mill site sit dormant, the Port of Everett is moving to snatch up the 66-acre waterfront property. Port officials plan to ask port commissioners Tuesday to sign off on acquiring the land “by any means necessary,” Port CEO Les Reardanz said. “We are very serious about acquiring the property for port purposes.”
The former mill site is in the middle of the port’s marine terminals. Several times during the year, the port had to turn down or delay cargo because there was nowhere to park more freight, Port spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber said.
“We need more land” to handle cargo moving between ships, trucks and trains, Reardanz said.
More at the Herald
From the Puget Sound Business Journal:
Container terminals at the Port of Tacoma were nearly twice as busy as those in Seattle during 2015, according to statistics from the Pacific Maritime Association.
The statistics show that Port of Tacoma terminals handled the equivalent of 1.62 million 20-foot containers, a measurement called TEUs, during 2015. Terminals at the Port of Seattle handled 877,000 containers during the same period.
Seattle terminals have suffered from the temporary closure of Terminal 5 until it can be upgraded to handle larger ships, an action that moved some of the cargo to Tacoma.
More at the Puget Sound Business Journal
From the International Transport Workers Federation:
Commenting on the raid on the CSL Melbourne in Newcastle, ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel said: “This raid was an error of truly national dimensions. The Australian government seems hell-bent on stripping away the very protections that make Australia the nation it is, and in doing so is becoming an international embarrassment in an industry seeking higher standards of governance and accountability.”
He continued: “Coming on the heels of the dawn raid removal of the crew of the Portland last week, this is another example of the Australian government shooting itself in the foot. It is beginning to look almost like it wants to punish the Australian people, by removing their jobs and national shipping industry in favour of dodging tax and national labour standards.”
The Melbourne is the latest victim of the undermining of Australia’s cabotage protection laws. The ITF has repeatedly made the case for keeping such legislation. As the ITF cabotage taskforce has stated, 47 countries have some form of cabotage law because it is good for their economies. With a thriving maritime industry, people work in good quality jobs, consume goods and boost the economy.
Failing to protect cabotage undermines sovereignty and has national security implications. It also has serious economic implications for maritime regions and communities.
Mr Heindel is leading the seafarers group at the high level meeting at the ILO in Geneva consolidating the ground-breaking Maritime Labour Convention, 2008 for international seafarers. “This latest debacle from the Australian shipping industry will not be lost on anyone there,” he said.
For more about how cabotage laws protect skills see this link.
The Port of Stockton specializes in bulk shipping. The Central Valley Business Journal reports that there were 245 ship arrivals at the port last year, compared with just 100 during the recession in 2009.
For the second year in a row, the Port of Stockton set a record for ship arrivals in 2015. Overall, the port experienced nearly a 150 percent increase across the board.
Last year, there were 245 ship arrivals at the port, up from the previous record of 230 set in 2014. Total tonnage was 3.8 million metric tons in 2015, the second best in a decade.
Last year, low sulfur coal continued as the leading export with more than one million metric tons leaving the port compared to the 1.74 million metric tons shipped to foreign buyers in 2014. That may change this year, though.
“Because of monetary exchange rates and shifts in global demand, we’re looking at spot shipments in 2016 for coal,” Port Director Richard Aschieris said.
More at the Central Valley Business Journal
Elected officials are demanding swift action and increased oversight at the Port of Los Angeles following disclosure that a second major shipping company has been allowed to skirt requirements to reduce harmful diesel emissions.
Port officials failed to require two large terminal operators, TraPac and China Shipping, to comply with air quality improvement measures the city adopted years ago, including mandates that massive cargo ships shut down their diesel engines and plug into shore-based electricity while at the docks.
TraPac’s failure to meet the requirement is “a huge breach of faith,” said U.S. Rep.Janice Hahn (D-Los Angeles), who as an L.A. City Council member helped negotiate the shore power requirement as a condition for allowing TraPac to expand operations at the city-owned port in 2009.
More at the Los Angeles Times
From the Journal of Commerce:
Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero said he sympathizes with Los Angeles and Long Beachport users seeking less truck congestion and more transparency from the ports’ PierPass program for off-hours truck gates.
“I cannot think of any stakeholder, not one stakeholder, who supports PierPass status quo,” Cordero said. He spoke at a panel discussion sponsored by the New York-New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders & Brokers Association, which Thursday night named him the association’s person of the year.
Cordero credited PierPass with showing night gate operations are feasible, but said truck congestion remains a problem and that the fees keep rising.
More at the JOC
From the Los Angeles Times:
Representatives of the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Thursday formally signed a sweeping free-trade agreement reached last fall, setting in motion what is expected to be a hard battle for approval in national legislatures, none more contentious than in the U.S.
Michael Froman, President Obama’s chief trade negotiator, beamed as he walked onstage during a signing ceremony in New Zealand, but back home it is looking increasingly unlikely that a congressional vote on the deal will take place by summer. Major presidential candidates continue to pan the accord and even leaders of the GOP, the party of free traders, have shown only lukewarm support for what Obama has made his,top economic priority in the second term.
More at the LA Times
The former Port of Los Angeles police chief has pleaded guilty to tax evasion and making false statements to FBI agents probing an alleged bribery scheme.
Ronald Jerome Boyd entered his plea in federal court Wednesday on the day he was to face trial. Boyd now faces up to 11 years in prison.
The 58-year-old was investigated over allegations that he accepted a financial interest in return for helping a company get a contract to develop a port-based smartphone app.
In his plea agreement, Boyd also acknowledged failing to report income he received from the owner of a guard service company that did business with the nation’s busiest port complex.
From the Daily Journal
IDC-ITF joint press statement:
5 February 2016
Representatives of the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met in Barcelona, Spain, today to explore how to work together to defend dockers’ jobs and rights.
The one-day meeting agreed the following statement of intent:
Representatives of the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) meeting in Barcelona today 5th February 2016 have agreed to find ways of working more closely together with the aim of strengthening solidarity between dockworkers’ globally and supporting each other in fighting back against attacks on their working terms and conditions, and job security.
These common challenges faced by our members are the result of significant changes in maritime transport, and some employers and governments pursuing a neo-liberal agenda characterised by union busting including through automation, the casualisation of jobs and deregulation of labour standards and protections. Collective agreements are increasingly being violated and we are concerned over health and safety conditions in ports, as well as attempts to limit dockworkers’ ability to exercise their trade union rights.
We have established a joint committee to develop a strategy and plan actions urgently to tackle the key challenges and issues faced by dockworkers globally.
In particular, our organisations will cooperate on:
- Campaigning and solidarity support to secure and maintain dockworkers’ rights internationally, especially in the global terminal operating companies (GNTs); and
- Managing the impact of automation, securing lashing work and respect for dockworkers’ jurisdiction.
We anticipate an active and fruitful collaboration between our two organisations to build dockworkers’ power around the world.
Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of its dockers’ section, commented: “This has been a landmark event. Both organisations are now best placed to promote and defend the rights of international dockworkers.”
Jordi Aragunde, IDC general coordinator, added: “Today’s meeting was designed to further our joint efforts to aid and represent dockers worldwide. It is a pleasure to see it result in such concrete outcomes.”
Torben Seebold, ITF vice chair and ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation) dockers’ section vice chair, added: “Dockers do hard and often dangerous work which is rarely given the recognition it deserves. The ITF and IDC are committed to changing that.”
IDC European zone coordinator Anthony Tetard concluded: “Dockers face common challenges, which demand a united response. Today we have agreed one.”
From the Journal of Commerce:
Rotterdam’s pioneering automated container terminals face tough challenges as they strive to hit ambitious productivity targets in their first full year of operations with the rest of the European waterfront looking on.
The year got off to a bad start, with every container crane in Rotterdam stalled for 24 hours last month as longshoremen downed tools to protest looming job losses due to accelerating automation at Europe’s top box hub.
And there could be more disruption unless terminal operators nail down a deal with unions over employment guarantees for 800 of the port’s 3,500 container workers whose jobs are at risk as robots take their place.
More at the JOC
From the Journal of Commerce:
The decision Monday by Outer Harbor Terminal in Oakland to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection will not deter Ports America from continuing to invest in its other container terminals on both the West and East coasts, the company said Wednesday.
Outer Harbor Terminal, a joint venture between Ports America and Terminal Investment Ltd., a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co., was in discussions with the Port of Oakland to end its 50-year lease
for the 166-acre terminal when Outer Harbor abruptly announced on Monday it had filed for Chapter 11 protection.
Questions immediately arose about the ability of Ports America to maintain and expand its operations at its other container operations in ports such as Long Beach, Los Angeles, Tacoma, New York-New Jersey
and Baltimore, but the company said through a spokesperson that the decision involving Oakland will have “absolutely no impact on Ports America in any way.”
Full article at the JOC
Commenting on today’s TPPA trade agreement signing in New Zealand, ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) president Paddy Crumlin said: “We, like our fellow global unions and everyone who protested in Auckland today, are clear about one thing: the TPPA – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – offers nothing to workers in the Asia-Pacific region except job insecurity and exclusion.”
He continued: “TPPA has been characterised by secrecy and lack of consultation. Unless resisted, as, thankfully, unions and other organisations have done and continue to do, it threatens to usher in a free trade free-for-all where anything goes – except for protections for ordinary citizens.”
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added: “TPPA is a poor match for the diverse needs and expectations of Asia-Pacific countries. It is being foisted on their peoples by a narrow range of governmental and business special interests. It was great to see people gathering in New Zealand today proclaiming ‘TPPA no way!’ as part of a groundswell of opinion that will continue to challenge this agreement during its planned ratification and implementation processes.”