Asian supply lines hit by U.S. West Coast ports dispute

admin   •   February 16, 2015   •   1952

Cranes and containers are seen at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California February 6, 2015 in this aerial image.
CREDIT: REUTERS/BOB RIHA JR

(Reuters) – A labor dispute at ports on the U.S. West Coast is disrupting supply chains across the Pacific, forcing some Asian suppliers to resort to costly air freight and pushing up shipping rates as more freighters are caught up in long queues to dock.

With ports near gridlock and cargo delays being felt throughout the U.S. economy, President Barack Obama on Saturday dispatched Labor Secretary Tom Perez to California to try to broker an agreement on a new contract between dockworkers and the group representing shippers and terminal operators.

Ports along the coast, which between them handle nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade and more than 70 percent of imports from Asia, have been experiencing severe delays since October, and the effects are rippling far beyond the United States.

Japan’s Honda Motor Co said on Sunday it would slow production for a week at plants in Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, Canada, as parts it ships from Asia have been held up by the dispute, affecting models including the Civic, CR-V and Accord.

“We do not have a sufficient supply of several critical parts to keep the production lines running smoothly and efficiently,” spokesman Mark Morrison said.

Honda and other carmakers have already started transporting some crucial parts from Asia to their U.S. factories by plane.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, maker of Subaru cars, said it would continue flying parts to its U.S. factory beyond an initial arrangement through the end of February, which it previously said would cost an extra 7 billion yen ($59 million) a month.

Toyota Motor Corp , which built about 2 million vehicles in North America last year, said it has reduced overtime at some factories as a result, while Nissan Motor Co Ltd said it had been slightly affected.

RATES RISING

With dozens of ships caught up in queues for miles along the West Coast, many waiting more than a week, the rates to charter container ships have begun to climb.

“The strike is affecting a lot of vessels. There’s a lot of delays, and this is pushing up panamax (container) rates as fewer ships are available for new orders,” a leading Singapore-based broker said.

A Shanghai index for U.S. West Coast (USWC) freight rates rose 23 points last week to 2,265 and brokers said quotes had risen a further five points on Monday.

The dispute is also affecting volumes. Singapore-listed Neptune Orient Lines’ container shipping unit reported an 8 percent decline in the fourth quarter, partly due to fewer trans-pacific sailings as a result of the congestion.

Roberto Giannetta, secretary of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association, said the effects were being felt across the industry, as shippers looked for ways round the delays.

“All shipping lines are affected, and all shipping lines are making alternative arrangements one way or another, by … reallocating assets to the trans-pacific or redirecting cargo via the East Coast.”

Even if the dispute is resolved, there could be long-term consequences for the ports and the communities that depend on them.

“Trust in West Coast ports is at an all-time low, and the perception of supply chain risk is at an all-time high,” said Peter Tirschwell, chief maritime analyst at the JOC Group, a supplier of U.S. seaborne trade data. “We are entering another period of fundamental supply chain re-evaluation that is already leading some shippers to permanently abandon the West Coast.”

For air freighters, however, the crisis is an opportunity.

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific reported on Monday combined cargo and mail traffic figures for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair rose 12.5 percent in January, outpacing a 2.7 percent increase in passenger numbers, thanks to increased North American traffic.

“We saw a pick-up in demand as January progressed, and by the end of the month we were operating close to a full freighter schedule,” said its cargo sales and marketing manager Mark Sutch.

(Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Rujun Shen and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Writing by Will Waterman; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Afghan president marks Independence Day, vows revenge on wedding attack

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday (August 19) vowed that they will “avenge” the killing of innocent Afghans, following a suicide blast at a wedding that killed 63 people over the weekend.

Leading an official ceremony held on the Defence Ministry compound in Kabul to mark the country’s 100th Independence Day, Ghani called the attackers cowardly and weak.

“They targeted a completely civilian place and attacked our children and women. And in a brutal way they shed the blood of our countrymen,” Ghani said.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the suicide blast at a wedding reception that killed 63 people and wounded nearly 200, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees to a pact with the United States.

While never part of the British empire, Afghanistan gained complete independence from Britain on Aug. 19, 1919. (Reuters)

(Production: Sayed Hassib, Hameed Farzad)

Hong Kong doesn’t need “suggestions” after Trump Tiananmen comments – China

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang (Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday (August 19) that Hong Kong doesn’t need “suggestions” after U.S. President Donald Trump told media that a “Tiananmen”-style crackdown on Hong Kong’s recent anti-government protests would harm trade talks between the two countries.

“President Trump has previously said that Hong Kong is part of China and they must solve their problem by themselves. They don’t need any suggestions. We hope the U.S. side can live up their word,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media in Beijing.

In recent weeks U.S. President Donald Trump has made a series of comments on Hong Kong via twitter, one of which urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet with protesters to diffuse weeks of tensions.

Hundreds of China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) continue to be stationed at a sports stadium in Shenzhen that borders Hong Kong.

The U.S. State Department has said it was “deeply concerned” about the movements, which have prompted worries that the troops could be used to break up protests. (Reuters)

(Wang Shubing, Irene Wang, Joseph Campbell)

Investigators work on site of plane after emergency landing

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

Russians hailed a miracle on Thursday after a passenger plane carrying 233 people made an emergency landing in a cornfield on the outskirts of Moscow after striking a flock of birds shortly after take-off.

The Ministry of Health said 23 people had suffered injuries, but nobody had been killed when the Ural Airlines Airbus 321 came down in a field southeast of Moscow after striking a flock of gulls, disrupting its engines.

State television said the maneuver was being dubbed the “miracle over Ramensk”, a reference to the district of Moscow region where the plane came down more than 1 km (0.62 miles) from Zhukovsky International Airport.

The Interfax news agency cited a source as saying one person had suffered serious injuries.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid lauded pilot Damir Yusupov as a “hero,” saying he had saved 233 lives, “having masterfully landed a plane without its landing gear with a failing engine right in a cornfield.”

Some drew comparisons with U.S. Airways Flight 1549 which performed a landing on the Hudson River in 2009 after striking a flock of geese.

The engines were turned off when it made the emergency landing and it also had its landing gear up, said Elena Mikheyeva, a spokeswoman for Russia’s civil aviation authority.

An unnamed passenger interviewed by state television said the plane had started to shake violently shortly after take-off.

“Five seconds later, the lights on the right side of the plane started flashing and there was a smell of burning. Then we landed and everyone ran away,” he said.

The plane was due to fly to Simferopol in Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

Safety concerns have plagued Russia’s airline industry since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, though standards are widely recognized to have sharply risen on international routes in particular in recent years.

(Production: Maria Vasiyeva, Dmitry Turlyun)

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