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

admin   •   February 16, 2015   •   1997

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)

New serious lung disease linked to daily vaping

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019

Toronto, Canada – A group of Canadian researchers announced Thursday the discovery of what they consider a new type of lung injury linked to vaping.

The disease, similar to bronchiolitis obliterans, is different from lung disease, known as EVALI, connected to the use of electronic cigarettes recently detected in the United States, the researchers said.

The research, which was published Thursday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, was based on a 17-year-old boy who uses daily electronic cigarettes and THC, the main psychoactive in cannabis, who developed a persistent cough and was eventually taken to hospital.

The patient’s condition worsened in hospital and he had to be placed on life support with lung lesions similar to a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, known as “popcorn lung” because it has been observed in workers exposed to diacetyl, a chemical used as a flavoring in popcorn factories.

The young man’s situation worsened and doctors referred him to a transplant center because of the possibility he would need a double-lung transplant.

After ruling out other causes, Canadian researchers identified the liquids used to flavor the cartridges of electronic cigarettes consumed by the teenager as the most likely cause of the lesions.

Dr. Karen Bosma said the new model of airway injury disease associated with vaping that causes chronic obstruction appears to be different from the alveolar lesion seen in recent EVALI cases in the US and seven confirmed or probable cases in Canada.

She added that the case of acute bronchiolitis was a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge.

She said the patient had extensive exposure to flavored liquids for electronic cigarettes and the negative diagnosis for other causes of bronchiolitis.

Researchers suspect bronchiolitis obliterans may have been developed in the same way as that of popcorn factory workers exposed to inhalation of harmful chemicals, she continued.

The young man managed to avoid a lung transplant but researchers said he suffers from chronic lung damage and is recovering from his long stay in the intensive care unit.

The study authors noted that statistics indicate around 272,000 Canadians aged between 15 and 24 have used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days. EFE-EPA

jcr/rb

Iraqis defy tear gas, upcoming curfew as protests stretch on

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

 Iraqi protesters react after police fired tear gas at them during a protest at al-Tahrir square, central Baghdad, Iraq, 28 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF

Thousands of people in Baghdad continued their protests at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Monday (October 28), defying a curfew scheduled to be imposed from midnight until 6am (2100GMT to 0300 GMT).

Protesters took to the streets for a fourth day, despite having endured bloody clashes over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.

At least 74 Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded across the country on Friday (October 25) and Saturday (October 26) as demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of this month’s protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.

More than 200 people have been killed in October so far.

Iraqi security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from the prime minister and joined anti-government protests.

A spokesman for Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious as he faces the largest challenge since he came to power a year ago, said on Sunday (October 27) that anyone disrupting work or school days would be severely punished.

Mass street protests in Baghdad and other cities in the southern Shi’te heartland against economic hardship began at the start of the month and resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks. (Reuters)

READ: DFA cautions Filipinos against travel to Iraq

(Production: Haider Kadhim, Mohammed Al-Ramahi, Mohammed Katfan, Hannah Ellison)

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US Military: No footage on Baghdadi’s death will be released

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

US President Donald J. Trump answers a reporter’s question as he participates in a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 07 October 2019. At right is United States Army General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. EPA-EFE/Ron Sachs

Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains had been disposed of and there were no plans to share footage on his death, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley announced on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria.

Trump said earlier that part of the footage on the operation would be released, but military sources said that the footage might expose some confidential information about the U.S. military, adding that the footage should go through strict checks before it is published.

The Associated Press on Monday released footage taken by a witness when the U.S. military launched a raid in northwestern Syria — but the authenticity of the footage has not been verified.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday expressed “prudent welcome” to Baghdadi’s death, saying the U.S. has made a big contribution to fighting terrorism “if confirmed”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that it does not have reliable information about the U.S. operation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria that allegedly killed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday stressed that the extremist ideology and the support for it still exist in the Middle East, and the death of Baghdadi was a “creature” killed by the U.S.

On the same day, Iranian government Spokesman Ali Rabiee said al-Baghdadi’s death is the end of a symbol of “destructive terrorism,” and the U.S. should end its interventions in the Middle East. (Reuters)

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