European ports hit hard by Coronavirus lockdowns
Trade gateways across the world have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but European ports have been the hardest hit. This is because up to two-thirds of ports are reporting significant declines in ship calls this month in a sign of the deep contraction in global supply chains.
The International Association of Ports and Harbours said in a report that in the first week of May around 65% of big European ports saw up to a quarter fewer ships coming in, compared to around 40% of ports outside Europe, including those in the U.S.
The reduced port calls come due to container shipping lines sharply cutting back on sailings out of Asia, scaling back capacity on the Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific lanes which are the backbones of global trade. Cancelled sailings are expected to peak in June and then start falling if the pandemic stops spreading and lockdowns continue to be relaxed according to shipping and port executives.
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U.S. mulls paying companies, tax breaks to pull supply chains from China
Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress have revealed widespread discussions underway – including the idea of a “reshoring fund” – to encourage U.S. companies to drastically revamp their relationship with China. President Donald Trump has long pledged to bring manufacturing back from overseas, but the recent spread of the coronavirus and related concerns about U.S. medical and food supply chains dependency on China are “turbocharging” new enthusiasm for the idea in the White House.
The president has signed an executive order that gave a U.S. overseas investment agency new powers to help manufacturers in the United States. The goal is to “produce everything America needs for ourselves and then export to the world, and that includes medicines.”, according to the president. Yet the Trump administration itself remains divided over how best to proceed, and the issue is unlikely to be addressed in the next fiscal stimulus to offset the coronavirus downturn.
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Brexit will mean checks on goods crossing Irish Sea, government admits
The UK government has privately conceded there will be post-Brexit checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, months after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, insisted there would be no such trade barriers. In a letter to the executive office of the Northern Irish Assembly, the government confirmed there would be border control posts in three ports, Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne.
“The sum total of that, and without breaching executive confidentiality … [is that the] British government has confirmed it will urgently put in place detailed plans with the executive, which does include the physical posts at ports of entry,” Dylan Kearney, a junior minister in the executive office at Northern Irish Assembly, confirmed at a select committee session in Belfast.
While the many political parties are debating as to whether these measures are the correct measures, they will come into place in next year whether there is a Brexit trade deal or not.
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Have a lovely and safe weekend!