U.S. shoemakers face losses amid China, U.S. trade tension

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 18, 2019   •   290

Shoemakers in the United States are facing losses over the tit-for-tat tariffs amid the trade tension between China and the U.S.

Xero Shoes is an American brand of lightweight minimalist footwear designed for walking, running and athletics. According to Steven Sashen, CEO of the company, their shoes and sandals have thin and flexible soles that are contoured to the shape of the human foot.

“It really reflects the essence of what we’re doing, which is something so lightweight, so minimalist, so barely there that you don’t know that it exists,” said Sashen.

Sashen started the company with his wife Lena Phoenix 10 years ago. Their 80-percent online business has taken off with 84-percent growth in the past four years.

Yet as another round of U.S. tariff took effect from early September, Sashen’s products are now 15 percent more expensive to import from China, where all of his shoes are made.

Lena Phoenix, co-founder of Xero Shoes, says one possible solution is to uproot their supply chain. Yet such move would take time and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“We don’t want to leave China. Moving factories is very dangerous for a company of our size,” said Phoenix.

“People just say very casually: well why don’t you move to Vietnam for example? Well, cause Vietnam is full. They’re overcapacity already,” said Sashen.

They’ve also thought about raising shoe prices in response to the tariff.

“While we have a rabid fan base and many people say we’re happy to pay a few dollars more. That’s what people love to say, but when push comes to shove, people are very price-conscious,” said Sashen.

“We’re going to hold prices as long as we can,” said Phoenix.

Sashen and Phoenix are not the only ones facing such dilemma. Xero joined forces with about 200 other footwear companies to write to President Trump last month, urging him to cancel the newly planned additional tariffs on goods imported from China.

The letter points out that the tariffs on footwear products imported from China are already at a high level of 11 percent on average, and will reach 67 percent on some shoes after the new tariffs take effect.

According to the letter, the 15 percent tariff will cost U.S. shoe consumers an additional four billion U.S. dollars every year, which may create further economic uncertainty.

“It’s almost impossible to come up with a coherent strategy because of how in flux all of this is,” said Sashen.

Xero is now trying to come up with a long-range manufacturing plan.

“It forces you to step out of your comfort zone and be innovative and thoughtful about how to go forward long-term,” said Michael Wellman, the vice president of the company’s Asia Pacific Development.

Meanwhile, the shoe-makers are also hoping for near-term relief for the footwear industry, which was relatively highly taxed even before the trade war picked up speed.

“There’s a part of me that’s still in denial, that hopes that it’s going to be resolved next month,” said Phoenix. (REUTERS)

Man in Tacloban City quarantined for novel coronavirus infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – A 36-year-old male patient in Tacloban City is now under observation for potential signs of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed Friday (January 24).

The patient, who traveled from Wuhan, China, showed symptoms of nCov upon his arrival in the Philippines on January 17.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, however, clarified that it is still too early to conclude that the man is infected with novel coronavirus.

The DOH is keeping a list of all individuals from China who sought medical tests relative to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Among them is a two-year-old toddler from Aklan.

The DOH clarified, however, that the toddler showed symptoms not worse than an ordinary flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they are expecting the release of the confirmatory test on the patients’ blood samples by next week.

The samples are now being tested at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, including that of the 6-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu who was first to be observed for nCoV infection.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not yet considering the situation a global health emergency.

Also, the Philippines is still technically free of novel coronavirus pending the confirmatory tests from Australia.

Nonetheless, Health offices across the country remain on alert against possible entry of the nCoV given the Philippines’ proximity to China.

Authorities are warning the public to refrain from travelling to China and always wear masks especially airport personnel as they are the first to have contact with arriving passengers from other countries. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

WHO: Coronavirus outbreak has not yet become a global health emergency

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020

Madrid – The coronavirus outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) today,” Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

“For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade.

“We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures,” he added.

This announcement comes after three Chinese cities with a total population of around 18 million people had been put on lockdown Thursday in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus as hundreds of millions prepare to travel across the country to celebrate the new year.

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday published detailed information about the 17 mortal victims of the disease, which include 13 men and 4 women aged between 48 and 89.

Chinese state TV said there were now over 600 confirmed cases within the country.

Authorities closed down public transport and urged people to stay at home in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei province with a population of 11 million.

They later implemented similar measures in neighboring cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, which are separated by the Yangtze River and have populations of six and one million respectively.

Airlines in South Korea and Japan, where cases of the virus have also been detected, also halted outbound flights to China’s seventh largest city.

Singapore authorities confirmed a new case — a 66 years-old man with Chinese nationality who arrive in the city from Wuhan on January 20.

The coronavirus outbreak had already sparked even worries within the country, which is just a four-and-a-half hour flight from Wuhan.

The United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that Dubai airport will start screening passengers coming from China.

“Dubai International Airport will conduct thermal screening measures on passengers on direct flights from China,” Dubai Media Office posted to Twitter.

The Dubai airport, one of the world’s busiest, received in 2019 a total of 3.7 million Chinese visitors.

It said is prepared to welcome “the thousands of Chinese passengers anticipated to arrive at the airport during the Chinese New Year (25 January) festivities.”

Two days after the US authorities had confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Washington state, Canada Health Minister Patty Hajdu informed that several people in Canada were under observation for pneumonia signs although the risk remained low in the country.

“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu said.
“The risk is low to Canadians.”

In other countries, the risk remains low, although Mexico and Brazil confirmed several suspected cases.

Health officials reported three new possible cases on Thursday, a woman, a man and a 2-year-old child from Tepatitlan, Jalisco.

The Brazilian government declared the Level 1 health alert due to the possible arrival of the coronavirus to the country since authorities had ruled out five suspected cases of the disease.

An Emergency Operations Center was installed to monitor the risk, according to official sources.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, originating in Wuhan and provisionally named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO), in many cases seems like a cold, but include fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The new coronavirus sometimes referred to as Wuhan pneumonia, is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that in 2002-2003 killed more than 700 people. EFE-EPA

sh/jt/vm

China confirms 830 novel coronavirus cases, 25 deaths

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020

Medical staff transfers a patient at Hospital of Wuhan Red Cross Society in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, 23 January 2020 (issued 24 January 2020). The outbreak of coronavirus has so far claimed 25 lives and infected more than 800 others, according to media reports. Authorities have extended a travel ban to eight cities in Hubei province, Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi, Xiantao, Qianjiang, Zhijiang and Lichuan in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, which has so far been detected in the USA, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.

The death toll from China’s new coronavirus has risen to 25, and the number confirmed cases in the Asian country to 830, the National Health Commission reported Friday.

At midnight local time (16:00 GMT on Thursday), the agency said that during the 23rd day, eight new deaths and 259 new cases were confirmed, affecting 29 provinces and autonomous regions throughout the country.

For the first time, a death was recorded in the province of Hebei, in the northeast, surrounding Beijing. Until then all victims had been registered in the province of Hubei, the capital of which is Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people and the epicenter of the outbreak.

At least 177 patients are in serious condition, while 34 have been discharged.

The health authorities carried out medical follow-ups with 9,507 people who had been in close contact with the infected, with 8,420 of those still under observation.

Wuhan has been on lockdown since Thursday to prevent further spread of the virus.

The authorities of other Hubei cities Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi, Xiantao, Qianjiang, Zhijiang and Lichuan are now also subject to travel bans, the Hong Kong South China Morning Post said Friday.

In Wuhan, the Didi shared taxi service will also stop operating at midday local time (04:00 GMT time) at the request of the city’s outbreak command authority.

Outside of China, the Beijing source said that two of the four cases diagnosed in Thailand have been cured. There are also two cases in Japan, and one case each in the United States and Singapore.

Vietnam late Thursday confirmed its first cases. In Ho Chi Minh City, two tourists traveling from Wuhan — a 66-year-old father and his 28-year-old — son were hospitalized and underwent a series of tests to confirm the infection.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement Thursday night that both men are recovering and in “good condition.”

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has urged the authorities to implement a series of security measures to prevent new cases, as well as increased controls at airports and border posts.

South Korea confirmed Friday a second case of infection in a 55-year-old South Korean who had been working in Wuhan and fell ill there, before he returned to Seoul on Wednesday where he was detected during screening at Gimpo airport, according to the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 35-year-old Chinese woman who arrived in Seoul from Wuhan was reported as the first case on Monday.

Taiwan also has a case, although Chinese authorities consider Taiwan a province of China and therefore include it in the national count.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV provisionally by the World Health Organization (WHO), are in many cases similar to those of a cold, but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

For its part, the WHO on Thursday decided against declaring an international emergency, although it asked China to increase surveillance in an epidemic that poses a “very high” risk nationally and internationally. EFE-EPA

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