White House Press Release, 3 Dec 2018 – Chinese Tariffs

“President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10% rate, and not raise it to 25% at this time. China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.
President Trump and President Xi have agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture. Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10% tariffs will be raised to 25%.”

All Standalone Lithium Batteries Prohibited as Cargo on Passenger Aircraft as of April 1, 2016

In February, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)—the United Nations agency that regulates the transport of dangerous goods aboard aircraft —enacted a ban on transporting standalone lithium ion batteries (UN 3480) as cargo on passenger aircraft. The ban goes into effect April 1, 2016.

Since lithium metal batteries (UN 3090) were already prohibited, the new regulation means no standalone lithium batteries, in any quantity or packaging, may be shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft.

Can you still ship lithium batteries by air? Yes. Batteries packed with or in equipment (UN 3091 and 3481) may still be shipped compliantly, subject to regulations. (Passengers may still transport their own battery powered devices and spare batteries in their carry-on bags—for now. See https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=7 for FAA’s guidance)

And all lithium batteries may still be transported on cargo-only aircraft, subject to regulations—see below. However, you need to be aware that airlines may have their own variations in place even though the regulations don’t prohibit them on cargo aircraft.

ICAO has also mandated that, effective April 1, 2016, standalone lithium ion batteries (UN 3480) can only be shipped by air with a state of charge 30% or less. In addition, shippers will be not be authorized to transport more than one package of standalone lithium ion batteries prepared in accordance with packing instruction 965 or 968 Section II per consignment. “A shipper is not permitted to offer for transport more than one package prepared according to Section II in any single consignment.” A consignment is defined as: ” One or more packages of dangerous goods accepted by an operator from one shipper at one time and at one address, receipted for in one lot and moving to one consignee at one destination address.”

No more than one Section II lithium battery package may be placed into an overpack.

Section II packages may not be offered in a unit load device and must be offered separately from other non-dangerous cargo.

So, come April 1st, if you have to ship lithium ion batteries by air which are not packed with equipment, you’ll have to:

Ship them by cargo aircraft only (if the airline hasn’t filed a variation or implemented an embargo)
Ensure they are at a state of charge no more than 30% of capacity
Pack them separately from everything else

How will shippers verify the state of charge of prepackaged batteries? How can you manage the more restrictive packing rules?

New lithium battery markings and labels – You will need to begin using new markings and Class 9 hazmat labels for all lithium battery shipments—but not until January 1, 2019. (Early adopters are free to use them voluntarily on January 1, 2017.)lithbathandlenewnewhazclass9

Rumors of lithium batteries earning their own hazard Class 10 were thus put to rest, at least for the time being.

Tags Dangerous Goods, Dangerous Goods by Air, Featured Article, how to ship lithium batteries, IATA, ICAO
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10 Most Corrupt Countries


    Material Handling & Logistics

“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2015, which was released late January, ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country’s rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories included in the index.”

1. Somalia
2. N. Korea
3. Afghanistan
4. Sudan
5. Angola
6. Libya
7. Irag
8. Venezuela
9. Haiti
10. Yemen

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by open government where the public can hold leaders to account, while a poor score is a sign of prevalent bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs.

New Container Weight Verification Rules Start July 1

The new container weight rules, which are nicknamed within the industry as VGM (Verified Gross Mass) but technically known as SOLAS (Safety of Lie at Sea) amendments, are set to start July 1, 2016. The VGM/SOLAS rules are mandatory for all packed containers received for transport (gate-in or off-rail) and state that the Shipper is responsible for providing the VGM to the carrier. The VGM must be received by the carrier before the container can be lifted onto a vessel at the port of loading. Failure to provide VGM will mean the ship’s master is required, by law, to refuse the container for carriage. Verified Gross Mass is calculated by adding the tare weight of the container and weight of cargo.

NY & NJ Ports Re-Open After Work Stoppage

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Operations at New York and New Jersey’s cargo terminals were being restored late Friday after more than a thousand longshoremen walked off the job earlier in the day, shuttering one of the United State’s busiest port networks, officials said. Employees stopped working around 11 a.m. ET, though the precise reason was unclear.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the terminals and leases them to port operators, said some nine hours later that operations were being restored and gates would open as scheduled on Monday.

The work stoppage came as a surprise because “there were no major issues that we knew of to precipitate this,” according to a Port Authority official who requested anonymity.

The Port Authority and the International Longshoremen’s Association urged workers to immediately return to work.

“We have heard your voices, we have heard your concerns, and we have taken action on your behalf,” the union said in a statement. “We urge all ILA members to return to work.”

Over $200 billion worth of cargo moved through the port in 2014, according to the agency. About a quarter of U.S. gross domestic product is accounted within 200 to 250 miles (320 to 400 km) of the ports.

Port Authority police were sent to the terminals to ensure public safety, according to the statement. The Port Authority official said there had been no word of any arrests by evening.

New York and New Jersey ports are a major entry point for crude oil and an exit for refined products such as gasoline and heating oil. It was unclear if energy sector workers in the ports were participating in the walkout.

“I have not seen or heard anything yet that the strike was affecting the gasoline or heating oil futures markets,” said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York. Prices for both commodities were higher, in line with market fundamentals.

The walkout affects several terminals, including Port Newark and terminals in Elizabeth and Bayonne, N.J., and the New York City borough of Staten Island.

The port system is the third busiest in the United States and has 3,500 registered longshoremen, Fedorko said, although the number of workers on duty per day fluctuates depending on ships and other factors.

FDA News Release: Importers Now Accountable for Verifying Safety of Food Brought into US.

FDA News Release: Nov 13, 2015

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today took major steps to prevent foodborne illness by finalizing rules implementing the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act that, for the first time, establish enforceable safety standards for produce farms and make importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards. The Agency also issued a rule establishing a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies, also known as auditors, to conduct food safety audits of foreign food facilities. These final rules will help produce farmers and food importers take steps to prevent problems before they occur.

An estimated 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year. Over the past few years, high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach to peanut products, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.


    Foreign Supplier Verification Programs

rule requires food importers to verify that foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that meets U.S. safety standards and that they are achieving the same level of food safety as domestic farms and food facilities. In 2013, USDA estimated that imported food accounted for about 19 percent of the U.S. food supply, including about 52 percent of the fresh fruits and 22 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed by Americans. The final rule ensures that importers conduct verification activities (such as audits of a supplier’s facility, sampling and testing of food, or a review of the supplier’s relevant food safety records) based on risks linked to the imported food and the performance of the foreign supplier.

The FDA has also finalized a rule on Accredited Third-Party Certification, which is part of FSMA’s new food import safety system. This rule establishes a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies (auditors) to conduct food safety audits and to certify that foreign food facilities and food produced by such facilities meet applicable FDA food safety requirements. To prevent potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers, the FDA can require in specific circumstances that a food offered for import be accompanied by a certification from an accredited third-party certification body.

“The ultimate success of FSMA depends on full funding of the President’s FY 2016 budget request,” Taylor said. “This will help us train FDA and state food safety staff on the new system, fund our state partners to work with farmers on produce safety, provide technical assistance to small farms and food businesses, and successfully implement the new import system that U.S. consumers deserve and Congress envisioned.”

The FDA has finalized five of the seven major rules that implement the core of FSMA. Today’s historic rules build on the preventive controls rules the FDA finalized in September 2015, which mandate modern preventive practices in food processing and storage facilities. These rules work together to systematically strengthen the food safety system and better protect public health.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by ensuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Federal Register

•FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety
•FSMA Final Rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals
•FSMA Final Rule on Accredited Third-Party Certification
•FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

Page Last Updated: 11/13/2015

Panama Canal Delays Continue

Weather, influx of larger ships behind recent Panama Canal delays

Nearly a month after a queue of ships began to mount on either side of the Panama Canal, canal authorities say they are now taking steps to expedite the traffic, decrease transit times and reduce the current backlog of vessels.
Journal of Commerce, 11/11/15

UPS Pilots Willing to Strike for New Contract

In an announcement from the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) on Friday, October 23, 2015, UPS pilots voted 2,252 to 8 for striking against air carrier over the lack of a new labor contract. “UPS promises its customers on-time delivery, but after four years of labor negotiations, the Company has failed to deliver a contract for its pilots,” said IPA president Captain Robert Travis. “In a clear voice, UPS pilots have said they are willing to strike if necessary to finish the job.”

After the announcement, International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James Hoffa pledged the support of 250,000 UPS Teamster co-workers for these pilots. According to the union, roughly 97% percent of the pilots participated in the vote giving the IPA, the union’s executive board, authorization to formally apply for a release from federally mediated negotiations with UPS, and also the good sense to conduct a strike after mediation concludes.

Even though an overwhelming majority approved the strike, the two parties are scheduled to resume negotiations in early November with the federal mediator. However, the mediator retains the rights to cancel these sessions. Despite the strike announcement, UPS remains confident the negotiations will finish without service disruption.

The company views the pilots’ vote to strike as a symbolic gesture because, under federal law, the pilots have to be allowed to strike by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which is overseeing the negotiations. According to UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot, “A strike is not possible without the NMB’s permission, and then only after exhausting a lengthy series of safeguards.” There are a series of fail-safes, which include presidential and congressional intervention, to prevent a strike from taking place.

Delta & United Airlines Ban Bulk Shipments of Lithium-Ion Batteries

United Airlines has become the second major US airline to announce it will no longer carry bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries.

Delta Airlines stopped bulk shipments of the batteries in February. American Airlines stopped accepting some types of lithium-ion battery shipments in February.

Aviation officials believe lithium-ion batteries contributed to fires that destroyed two Boeing 747 cargo planes, killing all four crew members. Federal Aviation Administration tests found overheating batteries could cause major fires.In its tests, the FAA filled a cargo container with 5,000 lithium-ion batteries and a cartridge heater, which was added to simulate a single battery overheating. The heat from the cartridge triggered a chain reaction in other batteries, with temperatures reaching about 600C. This was followed by an explosion, which blew open the container door and set the cargo box on fire. A second test, some months later, produced similar results, despite the addition of a fire-suppression agent.

New rules

The increasing focus on battery safety will put pressure on other airlines to follow suit, as well as on the technology industry to come up with safer ways of transporting them.

Lithium-ion batteries power mobile phones, laptops and other digital devices. An estimated 4.8 billion lithium-ion cells were manufactured in 2013 and production is forecast to reach eight billion by 2025.

Shipments of rechargeable batteries on passenger planes are supposed to be limited to no more than a handful in a single box, under safety standards set by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation. But a loophole permits many small boxes to be packed into one shipment, meaning that thousands of the batteries may be packed into pallets and loaded into the cargo holds of passenger planes.

FAA tests also revealed that lithium-metal batteries, which are not rechargeable and power devices such as cameras and calculators, could catch fire much faster than other versions.

The UN banned shipments of these batteries on passenger planes last year, and the ban came into effect in January.

All three US airlines will continue to accept shipments when the batteries are packed inside or with equipment such as laptops or power tools.

BBC News,  4 March 2015

West Coast Ports Gridlock

“West Coast ports ‘approaching complete gridlock”

Despite presence of federal mediator ‘no further agreements have been reached.’

   The Pacific Maritime Association, which is representing management in contract talks with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said Monday that “more than two months of ILWU-staged slowdowns… have methodically reduced terminal productivity at the five largest ports on the West Coast.”    “Operations are approaching complete gridlock,” PMA added.    “Since late October 2014, the ILWU has crippled what were fully productive terminals in the Pacific Northwest and Oakland, and exacerbated a difficult congestion issue at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by intentionally withholding dozens of essential skilled workers each shift for the past 10 weeks,” the association said.