Utility Giant PG&E Voluntarily Shuts Off Power, Could Impact 800,000 Californians

October 9, 2019

Pacific Gas & Electric began cutting off power to nearly 800,000 customers across large swaths of Northern and Central California on Wednesday morning, in a planned outage that it says is necessary to avoid the risk of fire.

PG&E gave residents in more than 30 counties advance warnings about the power cut, which it says would “proactively” reduce the dangerous effects of a potential “widespread, severe wind event” forecast for Wednesday.

The utility giant’s transmission lines have been linked to wildfires that have devastated communities in California. It filed for bankruptcy protection in January, and it has been roundly criticized for mismanagement and safety failures.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: https://www.npr.org

CBP Issues Detention Orders against Companies Suspected of Using Forced Labor

October 7, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued five Withhold Release Orders (WROs) covering five different products, imported from five different countries yesterday, September 30. This action was based on information obtained and reviewed by CBP that indicates that the products are produced, in whole or in part, using forced labor.

“A major part of CBP’s mission is facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” said Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan. “CBP’s issuing of these five withhold release orders shows that if we suspect a product is made using forced labor, we’ll take that product off U.S. shelves.”

Under U.S. law, it is illegal to import goods into the U.S that are made wholly or in part by forced labor, which includes convict labor, indentured labor, and forced or indentured child labor. When sufficient information is available, CBP may detain goods believed to have been produced with forced labor by issuing a WRO. Importers have the opportunity to either re-export the detained shipments at any time or to submit information to CBP demonstrating that the goods are not in violation

The Forced Labor Division within CBP’s Office of Trade leads agency enforcement efforts prohibiting the importation of goods made using forced labor. CBP receives allegations of forced labor from a variety of sources, including from the general public.

“CBP is firmly committed to identifying and preventing products made with the use of forced labor from entering the stream of U.S. Commerce,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Trade. “The effort put into investigating these producers highlights CBP’s priority attention on this issue. Our agency works tirelessly behind the scenes to investigate and gather information on forced labor in global supply chains,” she said.

The following WROs are effective immediately:

Garments produced by Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; produced with prison or forced labor.
Disposable rubber gloves produced in Malaysia by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.; produced with forced labor.
Gold mined in artisanal small mines (ASM) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); mined from forced labor.
Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labor.
Bone black manufactured in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda; produced with forced labor.

Investigations may be initiated in a number of ways, including news reports and tips from either the public or trade community. CBP may also self-initiate an investigation into the use of forced labor in any given supply chain.

“CBP works extensively with our stakeholders, the media, and private sector businesses to gather information on forced labor in global supply chains and educate importers on U.S. compliance standards.” said Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Field Operations, “And we encourage the trade community to know their supply chains to ensure goods imported into our country are not produced with forced labor.”

Source: CBP – https://www.cbp.gov/trade/programs-administration/forced-labor

World Trade Forecast Gets Haircut for 2019 and 2020 from WTO

October 3, 2019

The World Trade Organization (WTO) cut its 2019 forecast for trade growth in half due to slower global economic growth and ongoing political issues of U.S.-China trade relations and the U.K.’s pending departure from the European Union.

While 2020 is expected to be stronger, the WTO warned that its member nations will have to create a more stable business climate for trade to grow again.

The Geneva-based group charged with enforcing the rules set out in trade agreements said trade in real goods is expected to rise 1.2% this year, compared to an earlier forecast of 2.6% made in April.

The first half of 2019 saw export and import volumes rise 0.6% from a year earlier, a “substantial slowdown compared to recent years,” the WTO said.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: https://www.freightwaves.com

Third Quarter Carload Declines Worst yet in 2019

October 3, 2019

Rail volumes continued their decline in week 39. Rail volumes continued their decline in the latest week according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Week 39 of 2019 was no better than the ones that preceded it as a number of demand headwinds overhang the rail industry. Total U.S. carloads declined 7.4% year-over-year to 529,336 units in the week ended September 28, with metallic ores and metals (-17.9%), grain (-17.8%) and coal (-11.5%) posting double-digit declines. The 6.9% decline in U.S. intermodal shipments for the week was in-line with broader declines.

For the full story, please click HERE

Source: https://www.freightwaves.com