The Freeport of Riga to Become One of the Most Environmentally-Friendly Ports in Baltic

As the Baltic Course reported , the Freeport of Riga Authority is aiming to become one of the most environmentally-friendly ports in the North-Eastern region of the Baltic Sea. The port operates in compliance with the environmental policy approved within the framework of the environment management system

The FPRA Environment and Development Department’s Environment Unit (the Port Environment Service), in cooperation with non-governmental organizations (societies)is intended to decrease air pollution caused by companies operating in the port.

The only way to ensure the immediate improvement of air quality is to limit or suspend operations, which can only be authorized by the State Environmental Service in situations provided by laws and regulations. To provide for the sustained improvement of air quality, several courses of action and tasks have been established, including activities involving mutual understanding of the port companies, and practical tasks such as technical solutions to be developed by companies and the Freeport of Riga Authority.

The Port Environment Service is planning to inspect the work environment and to meet the management of companies  trying to encourage them to share their opinion on measures to be taken. In the meantime, the Port Environment Service will examine processes used to abate air pollution at other European ports, and analyse their efficiency and suitability together with the technical experts of companies operating in the Freeport of Riga.

The Port Environment Service also considers the cooperation of the Freeport of Riga Authority and state institutions (State Environmental Service, SES, Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, LEGMC) to be essential in information exchange and discussing the necessity and location of air quality measuring stations. The options of resource allocation from European funds for introducing technological improvements are also being discussed. The Freeport of Riga is working on the selection of locations for monitoring air quality and the development of the necessary technical procedures.

The Internal Security Service of the Freeport of Riga Authority, together with the Port Control Division, have prepared draft technical measures for the elimination of pollution during the unloading of railway tanks with heavy fuel oil (mazut), the successful implementation of which may decrease air pollution and smell in the cold season. There is an agreement with a company for the installation and testing of this technical solution.

Stay informed with updates from RCL!



The Port of Houston to Repair Liberian Ports

According to the news agency allAfrica,  authorities from the Port of  Houston, Texas have entered an agreement with the National Port Authorities (NPA) to revamp various Liberian ports that were affected by the 1999–2003 civil war.
Part of the delegation from Houston who were on an assessment of the ports are business people who expressed desire to bring more businesses to Liberia. The delegation also visited the National Housing Authority (NHA), a group of 77 disabled communities, and the business community for assessments.
The Houston Port will focus on four areas: capacity building, security framework, passenger transportation framework, and infrastructure development. The Houston Port has also had an agreement for technical and human resource assistance to the ports of Liberia.
Stay informed with RCL updates.

Free Trade Agreement Between the EU and Japan

According to the official press release of the European Commission, the EU and Japan officially launched  negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The aim is for a comprehensive agreement in goods, services and investment eliminating tariffs, non-tariff barriers and covering other trade-related issues, such as public procurement, regulatory issues, competition, and sustainable development.

The FTA is expected to boost the European economy by 0.6% to 0.8 % of its GDP and would result in growth and the creation of 400,000 jobs. It is expected that EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7%, while Japanese exports to the EU would increase by 23.5%.

The negotiations will be based on the outcome of a joint scoping exercise, which the EU and Japan completed in May 2012. Both parties demonstrated their willingness and capacity to commit to an ambitious trade liberalization agenda in goods, services and investment. The European Commission (EC) has also agreed with Japan on specific “road maps” for the removal of non-tariff barriers, as well as on the opening up of public procurement for Japan’s railways and urban transport market.

The first round of negotiations will be held in Brussels from 15 to 19 April 2013.  We will report further development of the negotiations. Stay informed with RCL updates!

Progress in Strengthing of U.S.-Brazil Economic Relations

As the American Shipper reports, this week in Brazil took place  the eighth  U.S. – Brazil CEO Forum, a bilateral dialogue between members of the public and private sector to help advance the economic and commercial ties between the two countries. The Forum was co-chaired by officials from the Department of Commerce, White House National Security Staff, and their Brazilian counterparts

As U.S. Commerce Department officials said during this forum the progress was made to strengthen the economic relationship between the United States and Brazil.

The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum was created to bring private sector leaders from both countries together to develop joint recommendations on how to deepen our commercial ties, and to present those recommendations to the U.S. and Brazilian governments. During the forum were proposed many recommendations from the CEOs, on topics ranging from tax issues, to efforts that will ease travel between our two countries, to cooperation on infrastructure development and to support of educational exchanges and workforce development.

Some of the recommendations are:

  • Calling on the governments to take advantage of the momentum from the recently-approved Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) to take on additional tax issues that could eventually pave the way for a Bilateral Tax Treaty.
  • Continuing to make progress on Brazil’s participation in the Global Entry Program, making it easier for Brazilians traveling to the United States on business to get through immigration at U.S. airports.
  • Continuing efforts to increase cooperation in the area of infrastructure and take advantage of the U.S. infrastructure trade mission, scheduled for May, to create opportunities for U.S. and Brazilian companies to partner on infrastructure improvements.
  • Continuing to cooperate on education and workforce development issues by supporting programs like President Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” initiative and Brazil’s “Scientific Mobility Program.”
  • Building on the work of the Strategic Energy Dialogue and involve the private sector in energy infrastructure and policy discussions.
  • Building on cooperation between the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property to engage in more formal work-sharing efforts to support innovation.
  • Continuing work begun under the Aviation Partnership Agreement to advance aviation cooperation and use the Aviation Partnership as a model for other sectors.

According to the officials, the Commerce Department will lead an infrastructure-focused trade mission to Brazil – as well as Colombia and Panama – in May. The goal of the mission is not only to increase U.S. exports, but share U.S. expertise in infrastructure development with these countries, and to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to a sustained economic partnership with Brazil and the region.

As always, RCL Agencies continues to report about the latest news in shipping and global trade. Stay informed with RCL updates.

EU Commission to improve maritime activities

According to the official press release of the European Union, the European Commission  has launched today  a proposal with a view to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas. In particular, the proposal will establish a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management with the purpose of ensuring growth of maritime and coastal activities as well as sustainability of resources.

“By facilitating sustainable development and investments at sea, the Directive will contribute to make real the potential of Europe’s Blue Economy for growth and jobs”, stated European Commissioner for Maritime Affaires and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.

Member States will have to map all activities in maritime spatial plans in order to ensure more efficient use of seas and develop the appropriate coastal management strategies. Better coordination between land and sea based activities would bring benefits in areas such as, for example, the connection of offshore wind installations to energy grids on land etc.

In addition, using a single instrument to balance all interests will  increase certainty for investors and reduce the administrative burden for national administrations and operators. Currently, in some countries one needs to contact up to 8 administrative agencies before securing a  permit for an aquaculture site. According to estimations, these developments could lead to economic benefits of up to EUR 1.6 billion across the EU, particularly for SMEs.

Finally, one of the main benefits will be  preserving ecosystems. As European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: “This initiative will contribute to a healthy environment and better living conditions for the 200 million EU citizens who live in coastal regions.”

The today’s proposal is an essential part to develop Europe’s Blue Economy. The European Union is aiming to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020. Maritime sectors offer areas for innovation, sustainable growth and employment which should contribute to this objective.

The Commission proposal will now be considered by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Once adopted, the new initiative will become EU law.

U.S. Federal Government Sequestration May Impact Customs Clearances

Last Friday the U.S. Federal Government  implemented the sequester, $85-billion in mandatory cutbacks to government spending over the next seven months.The cuts will be evenly distributed across all federal agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP has announced the sequestration cuts will be made equally across the agency, with no preference by port of arrival.  The first, immediate cuts will reduce overtime beginning March 1, and personnel furloughs may begin in mid-April.  It is estimated that CBP must reduce its work hours by the equivalent of over 5,000 border patrol agents and the equivalent of over 2,750 CBP officers.

CBP estimates that there may be delays up to several hours at land border crossings, significant daily back-ups for truck shipments at land border ports, passenger processing times may increase by about 50 percent, and there may be up to an additional five days added to cargo inspections at ocean ports of entry. The customs clearance  process might be also delayed up to 5 days. Other documents review will be delayed as well such as protests, PEAs and other applications to CBP for other services. CBP further notes that there could be some eventual delays in providing advice and rulings, as well as an impact on strategic initiatives such as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and the rollout of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE).

CBP issued the following advice for importers as it continues to manage the effects of sequestration:

  • Pre-filing Entry Data – CBP strongly advises pre-filing an entry so that it and other federal agencies have an opportunity to conduct risk assessments and resolve outstanding issues before the cargo arrives in the U.S.
  • Perishable Commodities – CBP will continue to process perishable commodities as a top cargo priority.
  • Other Government Agencies – CBP will work with its partner government agencies that have oversight responsibilities for import and export shipments to minimize the disruption caused by sequestration.
  • CBP Partnership Programs – At this time, there are no plans to eliminate or reduce trade facilitation benefits for CBP trusted trader participants.  Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) members will continue to receive priority (“front-of-the-line”) treatment for examinations.  Moreover, C-TPAT companies are 4-6 times less likely to undergo an inspection.  During the first 30 days of the sequestration (March 1-30) CBP expects minimal delays.  However, once the furloughs commence, delays will impact shipments for trusted partners that have been designated for examination

CBP maintains no individual ports would actually close and that the agency would not take shortcuts on security and safety.  CBP will be reaching out to advise affected parties of any changes in their operations and procedures.

We will keep you informed as more information becomes available to the public.

Export Customs Declaration for Customs Clearance in Uzbekistan

Please be advised that according to a Resolution from the President of Uzbekistan, as from 01.04.13, all importers must provide export customs declaration to Uzbekistan customs in order to confirm the actual cargo value.
The President’s resolution on further improving the competitiveness of domestic products and stepping up the fight against illegal imports of goods (dated 29 January 2013) sets new barriers for importers.The resolution orders corresponding government agencies to draft a list of imported essential goods within a month and make proposals to “sharply cut this list and volumes of imports” by March.It requires all importers or transit operators to submit all information about transported goods, including their codes according to a harmonized system of description and coding for goods, from 1 April.From 1 July 2013, imported foodstuffs, items of hygiene and other consumer goods should have description in Uzbek provided by manufacturers.

Please be guided accordingly!

Russian Port Novorossiysk to Build Vegoils Facility

Russia’s Novorossiisk Commercial Sea Port Group (NCSP) has announced that it has signed an agreement with state trader United Grain Company to build a vegetable oils facility at the Black Sea port with capacity to store and ship up to 2 million tons a year.

NCSP, the largest single outlet for Russian energy and commodity exports, said  the high-tech terminal has a  total investment of around 1.5 billion rubles ($50 million) and  is scheduled for launch in 2015-16.

Russia exported 1.43 million tons of sunflower oil between October 2011 and September 2012. NCSP Chief Executive Rado Antolovic said in a statement that they are planning to significantly increase the annual volume of seed oils for the new terminal.

Apart from Novorossiisk port on the Black Sea, NCSP also manages the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk, a major oil and oil products outlet in the north.

GRI From China Railways

Please be advised of a general rate adjustment announced by the Chinese Ministry of Railway.  According to our Chinese partners, the new railway tariff will be implemented from Feb. 20th, 2013. The average increase on shipments in the China Territory will be about $300/20′ cntr and $400 /40′ cntr.
Please note that this is only a pre-notice. RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and will report further updates once available.
Please be guided accordingly.

ILA Master Contract Extension

Officials report the International Longshoremen’s Association and U.S. Maritime Alliance have reached a tentative agreement for a new six-year master contract. The new master contact averts a Feb. 7 work stoppage and keeps 14 U.S. ports from Maine to Texas open for business.

George H. Cohen, director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service – which had been assisting the two sides in contract talks- said “the tentative agreement is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties and, as well, to agreements being achieved in a number of local union negotiations.”

As Cohen said, those local negotiations are ongoing and won’t interrupt any port operation. The local talks will concern issues unique to each port. For example, the 3,300 workers at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, who account for slightly more than 20 percent of the union’s 14,500 members, are concerned about preserving language giving them exclusive authority to repair and maintain chassis equipment provisioned there. However, that is a minor issue for ILA workers at ports in Charleston and Savannah.

If the ILA and the NYSA don’t reach an agreement in the local dispute, the port could shut down, said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.

RCL Agencies Inc. will continue to monitor the situation and will continue to provide you with timely updates.