Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, (202) 822-9491
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, (202) 822-9491
(Reuters) – Losses from lower oil exports should sap up to $300 billion from economies in the Middle East and Central Asia this year, as countries in the region adjust to falling crude prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.
Economies that are particularly dependent on oil exports, including Qatar, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia, will be hit hardest by the more than 50 percent decline in petroleum prices, the IMF said in an update to its outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia.
Oil prices are now hovering near six-year lows amid expectations of an abundance of supply tied to unexpectedly high production of U.S. shale crude.
The IMF said, however, that falling crude prices will not translate immediately into major gains for oil importers in the Middle East and Central Asia, which have been hurt by the slowing growth prospects of key trading partners in the euro zone and Russia.
The IMF this week cut its forecasts for global economic growth to 3.5 percent for 2015 compared with an October outlook of 3.8 percent, and significantly lowered projections for oil exporters Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
The IMF said nearly every exporting country in the Middle East and Central Asia is expected to run a fiscal deficit this year because of the oil price shock, which prompted the IMF to downgrade the region’s growth prospects by as much as 1 percentage point compared with its October forecasts, to 3.4 percent for 2015.
The losses are likely to reach 21 percentage points of gross domestic product in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, or about $300 billion. In non-GCC countries and in Central Asia, the expected losses are $90 billion and $35 billion this year, the IMF said.
Oil importers will see smaller gains, compared to exporters’ losses, as their economies are less dependent on the price of petroleum, the IMF said. Morocco, Lebanon and Mauritania are expected to gain most from falling crude prices, while Lebanon and Egypt are likely to see improved fiscal balances, the IMF said.
The IMF expects oil-importing countries in the Middle East to save most of the windfall, boosting their current account positions by 1 percentage point of GDP, compared with what the IMF forecast in October.
Central Asian importers should see worse external positions this year, compared with the October forecasts, because of lower demand from Russia and China, the Fund said.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov.Editing by Andre Grenon)
Rising foreign trade that drove up throughput at China’s container ports in 2014 is expected to continue this year on the back of strengthening demand from the U.S. and Europe, and despite a slowdown in the mainland economy.
The International Monetary Fund projects growth in advanced economies to strengthen in 2015, but JOC Group Economist Mario Moreno said the pace of recovery would be different across regions.
“The strongest rebound in growth is forecast in the U.S., with a still accommodative monetary policy, lessened fiscal drag and healthier household balance sheets,” he said in the latest edition of the monthly JOC Insights report. “In the eurozone, the forecast is for a soft recovery to gradually take hold, supported by accommodative monetary policy, lessened fiscal drag and improving lending conditions.”
Even with concerns about China’s slowing growth of about 7 percent this year, the recovery in major markets will keep cargo volumes growing. Moreno expects U.S. imports to increase 6.8 percent this year, and Europe container trade to grow 7.6 percent. “The HSBC China Purchasing Managers Index was down in December, but the export orders component rose for the eighth month in a row,” he said. “This is mainly attributed to the solid demand from the U.S.
“China containerized exports to the U.S. are estimated to have grown at 5.9 percent in 2014, which is faster than the 4.1 percent growth seen in 2013,” Moreno said. “China’s new orders declined in December, mostly due to softer domestic demand, but external demand appears to be holding up, particularly from the U.S.”
The good news for beneficial cargo owners is that it has seldom been cheaper to ship a container in the major east-west trades. By the end of December, the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index indicated spot freight rates on the Asia-Europe trade were hovering just above $1,000 per 20-foot-equivalent-container unit, barely breakeven for the lines. Even trans-Pacific rates tumbled as carriers struggled to cope with a glut of capacity that dragged down pricing on the main trades.
The consistent weakness in price prompted Maersk Line, the world’s largest ocean carrier, to say it will walk away from unprofitable long-term contracts when they come up for renewal this year and to do more business on the spot market, which already accounts for approximately 50 percent of its traffic. As the market leader, any sign of success on that front would spur rivals to follow suit.
But even as ship lines carried greater cargo volumes at lower rates, that didn’t translate into a complete victory for shippers. Port congestion became a rapidly emerging menace in the container shipping industry as larger vessels transported more containers to ports ill-equipped to handle the concentrated surge of boxes. Bottlenecks developed at hub ports in Asia, Europe and the U.S., especially on the West Coast where labor issues contributed to the gridlock.
As they plan for this year, shippers who lost millions of dollars bypassing the West Coast while being forced to hold excess inventory are nervously watching the negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. Regardless of the outcome, East Coast ports are expected to benefit from the chaotic waterfront situation in the main U.S. gateway of Los Angeles-Long Beach.
In Europe, the hubs of Rotterdam and Hamburg faced bottlenecks over the peak season, but appear to have been able to reduce ship delays.
The gridlock at ports in major export destinations created difficulties in repatriating empty containers to Asia, leaving shippers in the region struggling to find enough boxes to stuff. Paul Melkebeke, vice president of supply for Samsonite Asia, said the problem wouldn’t ease anytime soon. “The challenge for me remains shortage of equipment, causing delays and uncertainty for our shipments going out,” he said.
The trend toward carriers deploying larger vessels will continue to challenge ports this year, and there is no short-term solution to the congestion it will exacerbate. According to research firm Clarksons, container capacity in the orderbook amounts to 3.4 million TEUs, of which 1.9 million will be delivered in 2015. Nearly 85 percent of the new orders are for vessels with capacity greater than 8,000 TEUs. An estimated 1.5 million TEUs was delivered in 2014.
Larger cranes are being installed or already commissioned in many ports, but terminals built years ago weren’t designed to handle the 19,000-TEU giants floating into service today. Singapore’s PSA is building a new port that will be able to accommodate the latest generation of mega-vessels, but few cities are in such a fortunate position.
Another trend expected to accelerate is the shift of manufacturing from China to Southeast Asia as rising labor costs and serious labor shortages in China’s coastal areas force factories to look for cheaper locations. “A lot of the low-end, labor-intensive industries, such as toys, garments and shoes, have already moved to Bangladesh, Vietnam or Cambodia,” said Geoffrey Crothall, a spokesman for Hong Kong-based labor rights organization China Labor Bulletin. “You will not see the wholesale China manufacturing industry vanish overnight, but it is transforming.”
An example of this trend can be seen in shoes. Although China remains the dominant source of U.S. containerized imports of footwear, its market share has eroded in recent years because of not-so-stellar economic conditions in the U.S., according to Moreno. “Demand for low- to medium-priced goods manufactured in China, Vietnam and Indonesia has continued to increase as consumers chose low-value imported footwear instead of more expensive, locally produced brands,” he said.
“Vietnam’s share of U.S. footwear imports rose to 14.3 percent year-to-date (October 2014) from 9.1 percent in 2011, while Indonesia’s share rose to 5.0 percent year-to-date from 3.4 percent in 2011,” he said. “Furthermore, footwear imports from Cambodia are jumping from a very low base, up 119 percent year-to-date, accounting for a sourcing share of a still small 0.5 percent.”
As measured by dollar value, China was still the largest supplier for U.S. footwear imports, accounting for 70.1 percent of the market year-to-date through October, although this was down from 74.1 percent in 2011, according to Moreno.
India, China’s traditional Asia rival, is struggling to realize its potential, with infrastructure shortcomings and inefficient inland transportation frustrating efforts to expand its manufacturing base. Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into port projects to improve congestion at the country’s main gateway of Jawaharlal Nehru, also known as Nhava Sheva, as an increase in volumes and construction work have slowed cargo movements and created lengthy delays since June.
“The shipping industry is in very bad shape,” Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters last year. “We are making every possible effort to revive it.”
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China, unexpectedly slipped into recession in the third quarter of 2014, and weak exports saddled companies with high inventories. With little sign of domestic consumption increasing, it will be difficult for the country to boost exports. As a net oil importer, however, the cheaper crude prices will help reduce production costs.
As shippers settle into 2015, falling oil prices will be registering brightly on their radar. The price for a barrel of crude fell by almost 50 percent in the last half of 2014, and apart from making factory production and raw materials cheaper, that’s leading to rapid drops in bunker and jet fuel costs. Fuel surcharges have fallen and shippers are waiting to see if they will continue to enjoy the benefits of cheaper fuel.
Samsonite’s Melkebeke, for one, is watching the situation closely, especially as it relates to pricing, asking, “How will we see the evolution of the freight rates as oil prices are dropping?”
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that revoking the existing antidumping duty orders on ferrovanadium from China and South Africa would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time.
As a result of the Commission’s affirmative determinations, the existing orders on imports of this product from China and South Africa will remain in place.
All six Commissioners voted in the affirmative.
Today’s action comes under the five-year (sunset) review process required by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. See the attached page for background on these five-year (sunset) reviews.
The Commission’s public report Ferrovanadium from China and South Africa (Inv. Nos. 731-TA-986-987 (Second Review), USITC Publication 4517, January 2015) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the reviews.
The report will be available after February 18, 2015. After that date, it may be accessed on the USITC website at:http://pubapps.usitc.gov/applications/publogs/qry_publication_loglist.asp.
ONG KONG — Asian countries dominated the 2015 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index released today with four nations ranked in the top 10 emerging markets – China, Indonesia, India and Malaysia.
Out of the seven Asian countries among the top 20, five are Southeast Asian nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam.
The annual data-driven ranking of 45 emerging economies is accompanied by a separate survey of nearly 1,000 global logistics and supply chain executives. Now in its sixth year, the index ranks emerging markets based on their size, business conditions, infrastructure and other factors that make them attractive for investment by logistics companies, air cargo carriers, shipping lines, freight forwarders and distribution companies.
In the survey, logistics executives were most upbeat about 2015 trade flows between Asia’s emerging markets and other emerging markets. Survey respondents also identified risks to growth by region and provided views on near-sourcing, e-commerce and other trends affecting emerging markets.
“Southeast Asia continues to be one of the world’s most vibrant, fast-growing areas. Growing domestic demand in Indonesia and Malaysia, a strong manufacturing base in Thailand, strong economic growth in Philippines, and a rapidly growing manufacturing base in Vietnam, all position the region well for continued growth,” said Morten Damgaard, CEO of Southeast Asia for Agility Global Integrated Logistics.
Improving business conditions raised the “market compatibility” scores of Malaysia and Philippines. Malaysia and China ranked among the countries with the best “market connectivity,” a reflection of their transport infrastructure and links. Indonesia is among the “next-tier” non-BRICS economies with populations topping 100 million.
Data from the index showed that the world’s busiest air trade lanes, as measured by cargo tonnage, were those linking China with the U.S. and European Union. E.U.-China air freight was up 9.1 percent while U.S.-China air freight rose 7.1 percent. Outbound traffic also posted big gains as China-U.S. volume grew 14.3 percent and China-E.U. air freight increased 9.6 percent, the sharpest gains among top trade lanes that link the U.S. and E.U. to emerging markets.
U.S.-Vietnam was the fastest growing trade lane linking emerging markets to the developed economy, growing at 42.7 percent compared to 2013.
ASEAN’s 10 member states have been taking steps toward becoming a single economic market in 2015. The International Monetary Fund forecasts a rebound for one of ASEAN’s largest economies, Thailand, which has been dogged by political instability and remains under martial law.
The steady shift in manufacturing as companies moved away from having all their production in China to a “China plus one” strategy was continuing. The index identified this trend, as well as near sourcing, where companies set up manufacturing closer to their destination markets, such as in Mexico or Eastern Europe. Almost 68 percent of logistics professionals surveyed said they were seeing manufacturing shift locations closer to end markets.
Research firm Transport Intelligence (Ti) compiled the Index, and chief executive John Manners-Bell said global manufacturing retailers had become more sophisticated in their supply chain sourcing strategies.
“Their decisions are obviously based on international transport costs, and on supply chain risk, but the retailers also have to take into account the prevalence of a large and adequately skilled workforce,” he said.
“Apple may never build their products back in the U.S. because the large supply of labor required and the skill set doesn’t exist there, but the manufacturing environment is shifting and manufacturers are relocating elsewhere in Asia.”
For 2015, the International Monetary Fund forecasts average growth for the 45 countries featured in the Index at 4.57 percent.
“The factors driving growth are increases in population, size of the middle class, spending power and urbanization rates, along with steady progress in health, education and poverty reduction,” said Essa Al-Saleh, president and CEO of Agility Global Integrated Logistics.
“That’s why we remain optimistic about emerging markets and continue to see them on an upward trajectory.”
Manners-Bell said five years after the global recession, prospects for all economies, developed and emerging, were still unclear.
“Economic fragility, a falling oil price and increasing security concerns in Africa and the Middle East have created uncertainty,” he said.
“Despite the challenges, interest remains high in these volatile markets as indicated by increased infrastructure investment, expanding international trade and increased domestic demand. Global manufacturers, retailers and their logistics service providers need to remain cognisant of the shifting dynamics if they are to exploit the significant opportunities which exist.”
HONG KONG — A U.S. West Coast port lock out would be “a catastrophe beyond belief” for the footwear industry that imports the vast majority of its products through the terminals at Los Angeles-Long Beach, said Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.
Priest is alarmed at the escalating tensions between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore Warehouse Union, as concerns mount that the acrimonious negotiations are heading towards waterfront employers locking out the longshoremen.
“We have sent letters to the President, to the PMA, the ILWU, and one went out today to 200 organisations, imploring them to come to some kind of agreement because of the importance imports play in our economy,” he said.
“Both from a consumer point of view, and also an employment perspective it would be a catastrophe beyond belief. A huge disaster for us. My hope is that cooler heads will prevail and an agreement will be reached.”
The import numbers for footwear are incredible. From January through November, the latest figures available, 2.166 billion pairs of shoes were imported into the U.S., almost 95 percent of which were made in China. In the 11-month period, 866 million pairs of shoes entered the U.S. through the ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach. The port complex handles 68 percent of international footwear imports, according to PIERS data.
“This is a critical period for the U.S. footwear industry that is building up inventory for the Easter period when a lot of shoes are sold,” Priest said. “In July and August is another big shipping period to catch the back-to-school sales, and then there is the end-of-year holiday season.”
Priest said he was fortunate to tour the Port of Long Beach in October and saw first hand the ships backed up and the congested yards, so he had a good idea of what was coming and could inform members.
“The spring and early summer footwear is being imported now, but a lot of our members have been prepared for what is happening and started bringing in footwear early, putting it in warehouses, or air freighting things in if they needed to get to retail stores quicker.”
A lock out of longshoremen would force shippers to divert their cargo and try to enter the U.S. via alternative gateways, but Priest said the options were not ideal.
“The alternatives are to divert to other ports in Canada and truck cargo down to the U.S., or to ship via Houston or the East Coast. The East Coast ports are great and provide good services to the Eastern Seaboard, but do not nearly have the capacity of the Southern California ports,” he said.
Stephen Ng, OOCL director of trades, said he was not aware of any breakdown in talks between the PMA and the ILWU and the likelihood of a lock out, but he said if it happened, the alternatives were limited.
“As the situation is affecting the whole of the U.S. West Coast, carriers would have little option in switching or omitting port calls,” he said.
The senior Asia executive of one of the world’s top 10 carriers, who declined to be named, said if port operations on the West Coast came to a halt, demand via the East Coast would go up and customers would pay the price.
“There is simply not enough port and ship capacity to replace the U.S. West Coast flows. Capacity can’t just be made up,” he told JOC.com.
“Lines will also suffer as a large part of their ship and container fleet will be occupied with waiting, which will have a negative impact on the bottom line.”
It has been reported that requirements for Chinese companies to get approval for outbound investment have been relaxed. The bill states that companies now only need to file – with approval no longer needed – with the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) if the projects are related to sensitive countries and industries. The April 2014 Outbound Rules required companies to get approval for all outbound investment projects worth U.S. $1 billion or more or involving sensitive countries, regions or sectors. The new law removes the price threshold and only maintains the sensitive criteria for NDRC approval. It also states that any investments which are sensitive and over U.S. $2 billion require NDRC filing and State Council approval.
Source: Economic Observer (Chinese only: http://www.eeo.com.cn/2015/0108/271090.shtml?LS=EMS1119256)
Date: Jan. 8, 2015
(Reuters) – China has published draft rules to allow foreign investors to trade in some of the country’s commodities futures, potentially paving the way for an imminent opening of a booming market as Beijing looks to increase its sway on global commodity pricing.
China is the top global consumer of raw materials and has some of the most liquid commodities futures markets. Although trading firms around the world are eager to access the country’s commodity exchanges, state restrictions on foreign participation and currency flows have prevented the contracts from gaining global prominence.
The draft guidelines, issued by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on Dec. 31, cover increasing the number of futures contracts open to foreign investors, as well as operational procedures and cross-border legal supervision.
The CSRC said the Shanghai Futures Exchange’s crude oil futures would be the first contract qualified foreign investors would be able to trade, adding that they could participate via approved overseas or local brokerages. They may also apply for direct trading licences with the bourse.
The commission did not give details on other domestic futures contracts that would be open to overseas players. It approved the launch of the long-awaited crude oil futures contract last month.
The public has been given until Jan. 31 to send feedback on the draft regulations.
At present, foreign companies have limited access to China’s booming commodities markets. Companies are only allowed to trade via brokers after setting up a locally registered non-financial unit, which requires a hefty amount of registered capital.
The lack of institutional investors has led to China’s futures markets being largely dominated by retail investors, making it prone to speculative trading.
Analysts said the move to bring in foreign players, especially institutional investors, would help develop the sector and usher in international practices.
China is cautiously opening up its economy to market forces and liberalising its financial markets.
Part of that effort saw the creation of the Shanghai free trade zone and the launch of the Shanghai Gold Exchange’s international bourse, allowing foreigners for the first time to directly invest in the country’s gold market using offshore yuan.
China also opened up its equity markets in a landmark trading link with Hong Kong in mid-November, which gives foreign and Chinese retail investors unprecedented access to each of the two exchanges.
China isn’t planning to expand fiscal spending to stimulate growth, according to the economic planning agency, as PresidentXi Jinping said the country is able to maintain a “medium to high growth” rate.
While China is promoting key investment projects in seven areas to woo private capital, it isn’t repeating its stimulus program started in 2008, Luo Guosan, an investment official with the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press briefing today. China is accelerating 300 infrastructure projects valued at 7 trillionyuan ($1.1 trillion) this year, people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the decision wasn’t public said this week.
“It’s not a stimulus program by expanding fiscal input, it’s about guiding social capital into investment projects,” Luo said. “It has nothing to do with the 4-trillion-yuan stimulus plan in 2008, and it is fundamentally different from that.”
At the same time, Luo said China is promoting “seven project packages,” including infrastructure, environment and healthcare, and many are underway. Premier Li Keqiang’s government approved the projects as part of a broader 400-venture, 10 trillion yuan plan to run from late 2014 through 2016, said the people familiar with the matter.
President Xi told a Latin America forum in Beijing today that China’s economy has entered a “new normal,” a phrase adopted to reflect a push to manage a slower expansion.
“Xi Jinping’s fast and comprehensive power consolidation in 2013-14 means a shift of focus to stable economic growth, more proactive fiscal policies, more responsive monetary policies and more aggressive reforms in 2015,” Bank of America Corp. economist Ting Lu wrote in a note issued today.
The NDRC’s Luo declined to specify the size of the reported investment package, saying “the total amount of investment is unable to define.”
Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup Inc. in Hong Kong, said today’s NDRC interpretation confirmed his view that the investment acceleration isn’t stimulus and is included in 2015’s planned fixed-asset investment.
“It means that there will not be additional fiscal or monetary spending, but they’ll redirect money into targeted areas,” he said. “So this is structural adjustment.”
The NDRC has also relaxed requirements for companies to get approval for outbound investment, the newspaper Economic Observer reported today. Companies only need to register at, rather than get approval from, the NDRC if projects aren’t related to sensitive countries and industries, according to the newspaper, citing revised guidelines.
Currently, the economic planning body requires companies to get approval for all outbound investment projects worth $1 billion or more.
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WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection announces a reciprocal arrangement with Germany for each nation’s trusted traveler program—the U.S. Global Entry program and the German EasyPASS. Global Entry and EasyPASS allow expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.
“CBP is pleased to further our partnership with Germany by offering Global Entry to German citizens,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “Global Entry and the German EasyPASS program allow our officers to focus more on travelers we do not know while at the same time efficiently and securely facilitating low-risk travelers.”
Currently available at 42 U.S. airports and 12 preclearance locations, Global Entry streamlines the screening process at airports for trusted travelers. More than 1.8 million members are enrolled in Global Entry and approximately 50,000 new applications for the program are filed monthly. As an added benefit, Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program.
EasyPASS is an automated border control system available to registered third-country nationals when entering Germany. EasyPASS uses eGates as a simple, quick and convenient alternative to traditional border controls. The automated border control system is easy to operate and allows for quicker processing at border crossings. The system does not replace manual border checks, but is an additional service.
U.S. citizens, U.S nationals and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may apply for Global Entry as well as citizens of certain countries with which CBP has trusted traveler arrangements, including Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Republic of Korea, and now Germany. Canadian citizens and residents enrolled in NEXUS may also use Global Entry.
To register for EasyPASS, U.S. citizens must visit an enrollment center operated by the German Federal Police in Germany. Enrollment centers for EasyPASS can be found in Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport and in Terminal 2 at Munich Airport. To qualify, U.S. citizens must have an electronic passport (epassport) and be at least 18 years of age.
To register for Global Entry, German citizens must first preregister with the German Federal Police at an EasyPASS enrollment center in Germany. After preregistering, the German Federal Police will notify CBP that the applicant is eligible to apply for Global Entry using the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100 and applications must be made online. Once the application is approved, the applicant will schedule an interview with a CBP officer to determine the applicant’s eligibility. German citizen Global Entry members will have to reregister for Global Entry with the German Federal Police after their second year of membership.
While the goal of Global Entry is to speed travelers through the process, members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler’s membership privileges.
CBP continues to maximize resources to support a 16 percent growth in international air arrivals since 2009. CBP is working to bring advances in technology and automation, such as Automated Passport Control kiosks, theMobile Passport Control app and the I-94 form automation, to the passenger processing environment while exploring public-private partnerships to help support current and future mission requirements.