Friday, February 27, 2009

U.S. Claims Victory in Lumber Case Against Canada


An international tribunal has ruled for the United States in a dispute with Canada over a softwood lumber deal struck in 2006, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said on Thursday.
The decision requires Canada to fix its breach in the agreement within 30 days, acting U.S.

Trade Representative Peter Allgeier said in a statement. Ottawa also must collect an additional 10% export charge on softwood lumber shipments from Eastern Canadian provinces until C$68.26 million ($54.8 million at current exchange rates) has been accumulated, he said.

“We are pleased with the tribunal’s decision,” Allgeier said. “This dispute settlement proceeding is now at an end. We look forward to Canada working quickly to cure the breach.”

Canadian officials said they were disappointed with the ruling and would discuss with Canadian industry and provinces how to implement it. Read more here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Napolitano: DHS Likely to Miss Cargo Scanning Deadline

( – Juliana Gruenwald, CongressDaily)

In her first hearing before Congress since being confirmed, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today pledged to make progress in addressing the significant challenges facing the department. But she acknowledged her department is unlikely to meet a 2012 deadline for scanning all U.S.-bound cargo containers in foreign seaports.

“To do 100% scanning requires lots of agreements” with other countries, Napolitano said in response to a question from Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who said the Bush administration did not push hard enough to meet a deadline it said was not doable. She noted there are many differences between scanning and screening – which does not require a physical examination of the cargo – and said “we’re close to 100% screening.”

But, she added, “my initial review is that the 2012 deadline [for scanning] won’t be reached under the current state of the program.” Republicans had opposed such a deadline, and a minority committee aide disputed DeFazio’s claim that the Bush administration did not work hard enough to meet the 2012 deadline. Read more here.

Revised D-Memos


Administration of the Hazardous Products Act and Regulations

• This memorandum has been updated to accurately reflect the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) role in administering the provisions of the Hazardous Products Act.
• Terminology has been updated to reflect changes in the CBSA’s organizational structure.
• A legislative reference section has been added to identify relevant sections of the Customs Act, Canada Border Services Agency Act and Hazardous Products Act.
• The designated symbols and signal words in Appendix A have been removed and replaced with a list of Product Safety Offices.
• The hazardous products list in Appendix B has been removed and replaced with designated hazard symbols.
• Paragraph 9 has been updated to reflect the new time frames for detention of goods.
• Paragraph 11 has been updated to include new information regarding responsibility for disposal of goods.
• Information on the Radiation Emitting Devices Act and the Cosmetic Regulations has been added to paragraph 12.
• The Contact Information section has been updated.

Download the PDF here.

Certain Steel Structural Tubing Known As Hollow Structural Sections (HSS)

• This memorandum refers to the application, pursuant to section 3 of the Special Import Measures Act (SIMA), of anti-dumping duty to importations of certain steel structural tubing originating in or exported from the Republic of Korea, South Africa and Turkey.
• The memorandum is divided into 5 sections, all under "Guidelines and General Information."
• A detailed description of the goods is provided.
• The milestone dates of the investigation are provided.
• The applicable Harmonized System classification numbers are provided.

Download the PDF here.

Canada Holds Fire on New U.S. Meat Labeling Rules

(Reuters – Louise Egan)

Canada's agriculture minister said on Wednesday he sees no reason at this time to revive a trade challenge against the United States over its new meat labeling rules. "Right now, they've gone with what we're asking for," Gerry Ritz told reporters.

Ritz later clarified that he was concerned, however, by new voluntary labeling guidelines issued by Washington, which have been a source of confusion for industry players as they await implementation of the new rules as of March 16.

The rule requiring more explicit labels on meat sold in U.S. grocery stores initially sparked a complaint by Ottawa at the World Trade Organization because it viewed the policy as unfair to the Canadian livestock industry. Ottawa agreed in January to put that complaint on hold after Washington made the rules more flexible in the final days of the Bush administration.

However, the Obama administration gave the rule a second look and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has asked the U.S. industry to add the extra information voluntarily to labels. He warned he may rewrite the rule to enforce the changes if industry does not comply on a voluntary basis. Read more here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Evolution of Protectionism

(Tom Travis —

Have the effects of cross-border trade influenced U.S. policy in favor of protectionism?

If your business is involved in the global marketplace, there’s rarely been a time so fraught with potential disaster as right now. A confluence of factors has combined to create a perfect storm that threatens to make it more difficult and more costly to move goods across borders. In essence, we’re seeing the evolution of protectionism beyond its traditional meaning to encompass a whole range of new threats.

Protectionism is of course a loaded word that carries a connotation of xenophobia or nationalism--an “us against them” mentality. Historically, it’s usually referred to the practice of erecting barriers to foreign goods or investment to promote domestic industry. Economists don’t like it because it can short-circuit the free market system, foster inefficiency and drive up prices.

This strain of protectionism has always been around and always will be. A case in point is the “buy American” provision included in the economic stimulus bill, which requires any iron or steel used in the construction projects funded by that legislation to be purchased in the U.S. Those industries have been among the most ardent in seeking to stave off imports over the years, and they’ve never lacked for political backers. That support has only grown with an economy in free-fall and a new team in the White House that thinks it has a mandate for immediate and far-reaching change. Trade policy will be a much bigger part of the effort to revitalize the economy than most people realize, and it’ll be strongly influenced by an energized and emboldened group of lawmakers and administration officials convinced that a healthy dose of enforcement will go a long way toward curing our economic ills. Read more here.

Obama: U.S. to Survive Economic “Day of Reckoning”

(Video: C-SPAN • Story: Reuters)

President Barack Obama sought to strike a delicate balance between hope and reality on Tuesday to reassure Americans mired in economic crisis that they would survive a “day of reckoning.”

Riding high in opinion polls as he delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress, Obama was careful to include a sober assessment of the grim economic situation and his efforts to fix it.

But the politician whose memoir was called “The Audacity of Hope” and who won the White House in last November’s election amid chants of “yes, we can” was also back in stride, telling recession-weary Americans they can expect better days ahead.

“While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover,” Obama, a Democrat, said in a televised speech five weeks after taking office.

“And the United States of America will emerge stronger than before,” he said to loud applause in the packed chamber. Obama was interrupted by applause more than 60 times as he addressed Congress, where Democrats control both chambers. Read the complete article here.

New Release of CFIA EDI


Please be advised that a new version of the CFIA EDI system is tentatively scheduled to rollout on March 3, 2009. The system was updated to address business requirements, and to expedite / streamline requests for release. Clients will not be required to make any changes to their existing systems as a result of these upgrades. The CFIA Import Control Division does not expect these changes to cause any interruptions of service.

IBM Releases 2009 Chief Supply Chain Officer Study: Volatile Times Demand Pervasive Visibility and Flexibility

(CNN Money)

IBM’s Global Supply Chain study, based on face-to-face interviews with nearly 400 supply chain executives in 25 countries, reveals that 70% say their number one challenge is overwhelming and fragmented data, as well as a lack of ability to make sense out of the information. However fixing this “visibility” problem is low on action plans because it is costly, difficult, silos are worse than ever and respondents say they are just too busy.

Supply chain leaders understand the threat of information blind spots, but they are only cautiously optimistic that they are taking steps to use their valuable information for real competitive advantage. Just 16% indicated that they are effective at integration and visibility of information across the supply chain with external partners.

The study shows the greatest opportunity for these executives are smart devices and integrated ERP systems that capture real time visibility: forecasts/orders, schedules/commitments, pipeline inventory, and shipment lifecycle status. Automating real-time detection with smart devices increases flexibility, speed and accuracy to promote better decision-making.

The Global Supply Chain study, titled The Smarter Supply Chain of the Future, was developed by IBM Global Business Services’ Supply Chain Management Practice in conjunction with the IBM Institute for Business Value, which develops fact-based strategic insights for senior business executives. Supply chain executives in 29 industries participated in structured interviews and candidly talked about their most serious challenges. Read more here.

Get Ready for Canadian Rule

(Fast Company – Anya Kamenetz)

Now that Dubai has collapsed, Canada’s looking like the next best place to weather the economic storm. “When the tidal wave comes, the question is can you still feel the ground under your feet? And we can.” That’s the view of Sandra Pupatello, Ontario’s minister of International Trade and Investment, whom I met with today in New York.

Surprisingly, Canada’s economy is outperforming the rest of the developed world. Its banks were too strictly regulated to take in the worst excesses of the subprime madness and as a result, it’s beating even Swiss banks: In fact, at the beginning of the crisis last fall, the country’s banks were rated the best capitalized in the world. While the U.S. has been tiptoeing up to the necessity of bank nationalization, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has no problem with charges of “socialism.” They’ve put into place one of the most generous bank stimulus plans around to try to stem the credit crunch. Read more here.

Private and Public Investment 2009 (Intentions)

(Statistics Canada)

Investments in non-residential construction and machinery and equipment are expected to total $237.5 billion in 2009, down 6.6% from 2008. While public sector capital spending is expected to increase 9.5%, private sector investment is anticipated to fall by 13.1%, mainly due to the mining and oil and gas extraction industry. Investment intentions in the mining and oil and gas extraction sector total $44.9 billion, 26.4% less than in 2008.

Capital spending will decline primarily in Alberta and British Columbia.

Private sector investment is expected to drop 13.1% to $157.9 billion in 2009. The decrease is largely attributable to the mining and oil and gas extraction sector. If that sector had been excluded, the decline in private-sector investment would have been reduced by half.

In contrast, total public sector investment will be $79.6 billion, up 9.5% from 2008. As a result, the public sector share of total capital spending will climb from 28.6% in 2008 to 33.5% in 2009.

Charts and a link to the data files can be found here.

Harper Hits Mark With Border Security Message

(Jeff Davis — Embassy)

It’s a message Canadian diplomats and political heavyweights doggedly repeat, but with only a brief mention, President Barack Obama granted problems at the Canada-U.S. border their moment in the sun.

During his high-profile press conference in Ottawa on Feb. 19, President Obama expressed concern over the “thickening of borders,” and called attention to the need to “eas[e] some of these bottlenecks in our border.”

“Now we’ve got very real security concerns, as does Canada, but I think that it is possible for us to balance our security concerns with an open border that continues to encourage this extraordinary trade relationship in which we have one and a half billion dollars worth of trade going back and forth every single day,” the president said.

Hot on his heels, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to hammer home a clear message that Canada is a committed security partner, and serious about countering terrorist threats at the border.

“Not only have we since 9/11 made significant investments in security and security along our border, the view of this government is unequivocal: threats to the United States are threats to Canada,” Mr. Harper said. “There is no such thing as a threat to the national security of the United States which does not represent a direct threat to this country.”

Broadcast live across the U.S. on networks such as CNN, this one-two punch successfully caught the attention of a few members of the White House Press Corps.

Carrie Budoff Brown, a reporter with Washington, D.C.-based Politico, said the exchange raised an issue she rarely follows.

“The president got my attention, in part because I didn’t understand that there are bridges that are very clogged, when he said we have to start thinking about clearing up the bottlenecks,” she said. “The indication was that we have to pay attention to what’s going on up there.”

Other American reporters said they felt Mr. Harper took good advantage of the opportunity to speak to Americans through the unique lens of their own media. Read more here.

Canada’s Beef Industry Calls on Ottawa to File Trade Challenge Against U.S.

(The Canadian Press)

Only a week after expressing hope that U.S. President Barack Obama would soften a trade rule that is already hurting Canada's ailing beef industry, worried producers say they've learned that Washington's final plan will hurt them even more.

The final U.S. Country-Of-Origin-Labelling rule, which takes effect March 16, would effectively force all American meat companies to label beef with a sticker that states where the product came from, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said Tuesday.

Some companies have already stopped buying Canadian beef and cattle due to the extra cost of meeting an interim version of the trade rule that was introduced in September. The final rule will be even more costly and onerous, CCA President Brad Wildeman said Tuesday.

“The association is calling for the Canadian government to undertake all available actions, including an early resumption of a World Trade Organization challenge against these U.S. trade restrictive actions,” Mr. Wildeman said in a news release. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Drawing a Tight Ring Around North America

(Martin Collacott — Calgary Herald)

Among the issues discussed by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama on Thursday were border security and the effect a tightening of our common border can have on trade for both countries. At their joint press conference, Harper stated unequivocally the Canadian government regarded any threat against the U. S. as a threat against Canada.

While such words will be encouraging to the Americans that we take seriously their concerns about security and the risk of terrorist attacks, in concrete terms what has to be done on our part to satisfy the Americans that they have no need to be unduly concerned about security threats from our side of the border?

Assessing U. S. measures taken to increase border security, it should be recognized that not all hurt legitimate movement of goods and people. Indeed, some enhance border security for both countries. The use of drone surveillance aircraft, for example, makes good sense: Both countries gain from monitoring possible illegal crossings along a border that is both long, and sparsely populated.

We have more reason to be concerned about measures that slow down cross-border traffic through official border crossings. This has already had a significant impact on trade, which, in relative terms, is much more detrimental to the Canadian economy than to that of the U. S. Read more here.

Japan Stations Food Safety Officials in Canada, Other Countries

(Canada-Asia News – Mainichi Shimbun)

The Japanese government has stationed 26 food safety officials at nine of its foreign diplomatic missions. The officials, mostly employees of the agriculture and health ministries, will consult with governments and relevant agencies, gather information, and inform local Japanese communities about food safety problems. In addition to the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa, officials have been stationed in the US, China, Australia, Thailand, France and Italy as well as at EU headquarters. Canada is one of Japan’s top five sources of imported food.

“Mexico, a Key Sourcing Hub for the Global Aerospace Industry” – Breakfast Presentation, March 5, 2009

(Canadian Chamber of Commerce)

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Mexico in partnership with The Mexican Consulate and ProMexico in Toronto is pleased to invite you to attend to this informative breakfast presentation and networking event, which highlights Mexico’s aerospace industry opportunities.

If you are among the constantly growing number of Canadian companies in the aerospace sector or related sectors such as electronic, tool making, metal mechanic and plastic, this is a must attend event. Join us for an expert panel presentation and discussion on Mexico’s aerospace industry.

Date: Thursday, March 5, 2009
Time: 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Location: Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport
6257 Airport Rd, Mississauga ON L4V 1E4

Registration online here.

U.S. COOL to Go Ahead Under Scrutiny


In a move expected to create more uncertainty for [U.S.] importers of Canadian livestock and meat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule on country-of-origin labelling (COOL) will take effect as planned next month.

President Barack Obama’s ag secretary, Tom Vilsack, confirmed that much in a release Friday, but Vilsack also published a letter he wrote to U.S. food industry stakeholders Friday, inviting them to “voluntarily adopt” practices that may tighten COOL beyond importers’ comfort zones.

USDA, Vilsack said in a release, “will be closely reviewing industry compliance with the rule and will evaluate the practicality of the suggestions for voluntary action in my letter.”

Depending on industry’s performance after the final rule takes effect March 16, as outlined in his letter, Vilsack said he would then “carefully consider whether modifications to the (COOL) rule will be necessary to achieve the intent of Congress.”

The “suggestions” in Vilsack’s letter include:

• tighter terminology on labels, including information about what production step took place in a given country, such as “Born in Country X and Raised and Slaughtered in Country Y”;

• voluntary labelling of processed foods, for which the definitions in the final rule “may be too broadly drafted” – meaning that in Vilsack’s view, products subject to curing, smoking, steaming, grilling or broiling should include a voluntary label; and

• a tighter inventory allowance – meaning that where a ground beef package, for example, could previously bear the name a country for up to 60 days even if product from that country isn’t in inventory, that number should be voluntarily reduced to 10 days, Vilsack said, to limit the levels of product without clear COOL and to give the label more credibility.

Read more here.

Harper Stresses Importance of Trade

(Sinclair Stewart — Globe & Mail)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper swept into Manhattan for a series of high-level meetings on the economic crisis Monday, publicly promoting open trade between Canada and the United States while privately casting about for input on how best to deal with worsening financial conditions at home.

Mr. Harper, looking to extend the momentum generated by U.S. President Barack Obama’s inaugural visit to Ottawa last week, warned against the escalating protectionist rhetoric in the United States and overseas, and took pains to remind Americans that cross-border trade will play a vital role in the recovery of both countries.

However, he also insisted that the global economy will remain mired in recession until Washington figures out a way to revive its ailing banks.

“The fact of the matter is, President Obama has a massive mess on his hands – and it is essential that the United States somehow stabilize its financial sector,” he said during an interview with Fox Business News. “Because if we don’t stabilize the financial sector, in the United States and abroad, we will not turn this recession around.” Read more here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

‘Buy America’ in Stimulus (But Good Luck With That)

(New York Times – Louis Uchitelle)

The “Buy America” clause in the $787 billion stimulus package signed into law on Tuesday has a certain quaintness to it. Far more than in the past, the phrase has come to mean “Buy America – if it is still made here.”

Take the $43 billion earmarked for green technology. Most of the nation’s solar panels and wind turbines are imported, mainly from Europe and Asia, and the new law waves aside Buy America restrictions if “the relevant manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities.”

The provision will apply mainly to the nearly $150 billion that will be spent on infrastructure projects, including green technology. Supporters of the original measure hoped that all of the “iron, steel and manufactured goods” used in the various projects would be made in the United States. But the legislation signed by President Obama is full of exceptions that quiet even the fiercest critics of that original plan.

“We are not happy with any Buy America provision, but we can live with this one,” said Martin A. Regalia, chief economist for the United States Chamber of Commerce, which represents many multinational companies that have moved manufacturing offshore for products likely to be used to build or repair highways, bridges, schools, rapid-transit systems, waterways and homes.

Most of the support for a clause to protect American businesses came from small manufacturers, with operations concentrated in the United States. But even they no longer make much of the machinery and materials likely to be needed for a wave of investment.

Trade data tell the story. By late last year, 37% of all manufactured goods sold in America were imported. That was more than double the percentage in 1991, according to Commerce Department data, and nearly four times the level in 1978. Buy America had far more impact in the 1930s and in the early 1980s, two other periods in which Congress enacted similar measures with the goal of generating good jobs in manufacturing and lifting output. Read more here.

More Container Shipping Lines Announce Rate Increases

(Transport Intelligence)

APL and CMA CGM are set to join the growing ranks of global container shipping lines seeking to push up their rates over the next few months, particularly in the Europe-Asia trade.
This month has already seen several major lines announce such plans, including Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd and Danish global operator Maersk Line.

Now, APL, a unit of Singapore-based global shipping, logistics and marine terminals group Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), has reported that it intends to implement rate increases in both the eastbound and westbound Asia-Europe container trades over the next few weeks.

“Eastbound, for traffic from Europe to Asia, effective March 15, the quantum of the increase will be up to US$175 per container for paper and scrap commodities and $100 per container for all other commodities,” stated APL. “The quantum of the freight rate increase sought on containers shipped from Asia to Europe on the westbound leg is $250 per TEU, with implementation effective April 1. Read more here (subscription required)

EDC and PROFIT Magazine Introduce Canada’s Export Achievement Awards

(Export Development Canada)

Export Development Canada (EDC) and PROFIT Magazine have announced the launch of their co-sponsored Canada Export Achievement Awards.

This new awards program will recognize and celebrate the export achievements of successful Canadian small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and is intended to inspire and encourage other Canadian companies to expand internationally. The awards are also meant to identify best exporting practices that other companies can adopt in their own efforts to globalize their sales and production.

“EDC is proud to be involved in this new award that highlights the importance of international trade and investment to Canada’s current and future prosperity,” said Eric Siegel, President and CEO of EDC. “Recognizing and promoting innovation and leadership among Canadian exporters will not only benefit the winners, but will also help nurture a trade culture among all Canadian companies.”

“As a long-time supporter of Canadian entrepreneurs with the vision and skills to penetrate foreign markets, PROFIT is delighted to be a founding partner of the Canada Export Achievement Awards,” said Ian Portsmouth, Editor and Associate Publisher of PROFIT. “We believe this exciting program will demonstrate how much opportunity lies beyond our borders, and how to seize it.”

All Canadian SMEs that meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to enter. Five winners will be selected, one from each Canadian region defined as Pacific, Prairies and the Territories, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The criteria for the award will focus on the company’s export activities and their relation to its overall performance, with an emphasis on innovation and creativity.

Winners will receive national media coverage in PROFIT and L’actualité magazines, in addition to other marketing and public relations opportunities. Official recognition as a Canada Export Achievement Award winner may also be used to raise the recipient’s profile with customers, investors, the media and potential employees.

The submission deadline is June 30, 2009. Companies may download an application form or learn more about the program at the export awards website.

Harper Hopes U.S. Develops a More “Pragmatic Approach” to Border Security

(The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he hopes the new U.S. administration will take an approach to border security that involves much less red tape.

In an interview with CTV News on Friday, Harper said it’s too early to speculate whether U.S. President Barack Obama will try to make it easier for people and trade to cross the border.

But he says intends to eventually tell Obama that there is too much paperwork and processes that slow everything up but don’t identify real risks.

Harper called it a “gun registry” approach to border security, a reference to the former Liberal government’s move to force long gun owners to register their firearms.

Harper says there must be a more sensitive approach that properly identifies security risks while not interfering with commerce and tourism.

During the Bush administration’s term, the U.S. government imposed tougher requirements for people crossing the border. Read more here.

More Container Shipping Lines Announce Rate Increases

(Transport Intelligence)

APL and CMA CGM are set to join the growing ranks of global container shipping lines seeking to push up their rates over the next few months, particularly in the Europe-Asia trade.

This month has already seen several major lines announce such plans, including Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd and Danish global operator Maersk Line.

Now, APL, a unit of Singapore-based global shipping, logistics and marine terminals group Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), has reported that it intends to implement rate increases in both the eastbound and westbound Asia-Europe container trades over the next few weeks.

“Eastbound, for traffic from Europe to Asia, effective March 15, the quantum of the increase will be up to US$175 per container for paper and scrap commodities and $100 per container for all other commodities,” stated APL. “The quantum of the freight rate increase sought on containers shipped from Asia to Europe on the westbound leg is $250 per TEU, with implementation effective April 1. Read more here (subscription required)

Parliament to Pass Budget at ‘Lightning Speed’: MPs

(Bea Vongdouangchanh — Hill Times)

House Finance Committee will get only two days to study budget spending.

The federal government’s budget bill will go through Parliament at “lightning speed” and will most likely be passed within the next month, say Conservative and Liberal MPs, but the New Democrats, who won’t try to hold up the bill’s passage, say it’s also “insufficient” time to properly study a bill that’s 551 pages and includes a $40-billion stimulus package.

In its budget, the Conservative government stated that for the stimulus package to be most effective, it has to be implemented within 120 days, by May 27.

Conservative MP Mike Wallace (Burlington, Ont.), who sits on the House Finance Committee, said the government is working hard to meet its goal, which is why the House Finance Committee is meeting this Monday to hear from representatives from 24 organizations and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Oshawa, Ont.) in four separate meetings.

Mr. Wallace said the committee will then move into clause-by-clause study of the bill on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

“We did a lot of pre-budget consultations, and so did the other parties, at least they claim they did, so we’ve [already] heard from a lot of people,” Mr. Wallace said last week, adding that the committee will hear from “key folks” and work quickly to report the bill back to the House.

“Instead of taking three months to do this process, we need to get it done, all completely done within a month.” Read more here.

1 in 7 Manufacturing Jobs Lost Between 2004 and ‘08: Statscan

(CBC News)

A new study says Canada lost nearly one in seven manufacturing jobs between 2004 and 2008, or about 322,000 positions. However, more than 1.5 million jobs were created in the rest of the economy during the same period, Statistics Canada reports.

The share of manufacturing jobs in the economy fell to 11.5% in 2008 from 14.4% in 2004, the agency says.

The report says employment has fallen in almost all manufacturing industries since 2004, with only a few reporting increases – notably manufacturing of transportation equipment (excluding motor vehicles and parts), petroleum and coal products, and computer and electronic products.

Almost half the jobs in textiles and clothing, long one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the country, disappeared. The automotive industry was also hit hard, with one in five motor vehicle jobs disappearing and more than one in four vehicle parts jobs lost from 2004 to 2008.

Ontario lost the majority, 198,600 manufacturing jobs – nearly one in five jobs – in just four years. Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia also lost more than 10%.

Small towns and rural areas were as likely as large cities to replace lost manufacturing jobs with jobs in other industries, typically in the service sector or in construction. However in small towns and rural areas, such jobs are often much lower paying than manufacturing jobs.

Statistics Canada says the trends are not unique to Canada – manufacturing has been declining in most Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. But the losses were delayed in Canada with manufacturing jobs beginning to decline only in 2004, while other countries, notably the U.S., had suffered significant job losses for several years.

Summary statistics and a link to the data files are on the Statistics Canada website at Statistics Canada website.

Harper on U.S. Sales Job

(Kathleen Harris — Sun Media)

Trip south on heels of Obama meeting

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will remind Americans that Canada is doing its part to fuel the global economic recovery, while warning of the pitfalls of protectionism when he meets with business leaders in New York today.

In a bid to build momentum from last week’s visit from U.S. President Barack Obama, Harper and key ministers are holding a series of meetings with Americans.

Harper will hold a business roundtable in New York, while Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon heads to Washington to meet his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Harper’s chief spokesman Kory Teneycke said the PM will get the word out that Canada is on the job when it comes to buoying the slumping economy.

“Broadly speaking, our message is one of ‘we’re all in this together,’ “he said. “Economic recovery in Canada will only be successful if there’s economic recovery in the U.S. and likewise, given the depth of our trading relationship with the U.S., it’s important for their economic recovery that Canada be doing well also. Our economies are very heavily integrated.” Read more here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Despite Years of Wooing Chinese Market, Canada is Falling Behind Rest of World in Trade with China

(MarketWire – The Fraser Institute)

Canadian trade with China represents just a miniscule portion of Canada's overall international trade and the country has a long way to go to fully take advantage of the opportunities presented by one of the world's fastest growing markets, concludes a new study released today by independent research organization the Fraser Institute.

Just two per cent of Canadian exports were sent to China in 2007 (the last year of available data at the time the report was written) compared to 80% of Canadian goods exported to the United States. In terms of imports, Canada imported nine per cent of its goods from China, with more than 50% originating in the United States.

"For many years now, we've been hearing about the opportunities presented by the Chinese market. Yet so far, Canadian companies have failed to fully capitalize on these opportunities," said Mark Mullins, Fraser Institute executive director. "And while many Canadians may think everything we buy is 'Made in China', the reality is far from the truth. Even though China's share of Canadian trade has tripled in the past decade, it is relatively small and narrowly based."

The study, Canada's Economic Relations With China, is the first attempt to quantify the flows of goods, services and people between Canada and China. The complete report is available at

Obama Makes Overtures to Canada’s Leader

(Video: PMO • Story: New York Times)

President Obama charted a delicate course with Canada on Thursday, using the first foreign trip of his presidency to ease tensions over trade policy, climate change and the war in Afghanistan – all the while basking in his celebrity status in a nation where his approval ratings are so high that a local bakery named a pastry after him.

The quick day trip marked a striking shift in United States-Canada relations from those under President Bush. If Canadians were no fans of Mr. Bush, their conservative leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, found in him a kindred philosophical spirit.

Mr. Obama, on the other hand, is so popular here that he used a news conference on Thursday to thank Canadian volunteers who crossed the border to help his campaign. At the same time, he sought to soothe a skeptical Mr. Harper on policy matters like whether to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement – Mr. Obama suggested doing so as a candidate but has since recalibrated his stance – as well as a “Buy America” provision in the $787 billion economic recovery package he just signed into law.

“I provided Prime Minister Harper an assurance that I want to grow trade, not contract it,” Mr. Obama said during the brief, four-question news conference with Mr. Harper in the grand Gothic-style center block of the Canadian Parliament. “And I don’t think that there was anything in the recovery package that was adverse to that goal.”

The prime minister responded by giving the president a bit of a lecture, remarking that Canada’s stimulus package “actually removed duties on some imported goods.” “If we pursue stimulus packages the goal of which is only to benefit ourselves, or to benefit ourselves at the expense of others, we will deepen the world recession, not solve it,” Mr. Harper said.

Related: White House photo-essay entitled “Working With Canada” here

Government of Canada Announces Safety Regulations to Support the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, 2007

(Transport Canada)

Regulations are now in effect requiring owners of Canada's 24 international bridges and tunnels to inspect and report to the Minister of Transport on the safety of their structures on a regular basis.

The regulations apply to the Canadian sections of all of the vehicular international bridges and tunnels, and put into place requirements concerning reporting and scheduled inspections. There are also stipulations that require owners to provide the Minister of Transport with reports every two years on maintenance and operations of these structures. In addition, the reports would identify any necessary actions to ensure the structures are kept in good condition.

"These new safety measures will help ensure that international bridges and tunnels remain safe and secure for all who use them," said Canada's Transport Minister, John Baird. "They also demonstrate our government's commitment to the safety of Canadians and those who come to Canada for business and tourism. The safety of this important transportation infrastructure is also important to protect the vital trade links on which our economy depends."

The International Bridges and Tunnels Act, which received Royal Assent in 2007, has formalized the federal government's oversight responsibility for the operation, maintenance and security of international bridges and tunnels. The regulations will help satisfy this oversight responsibility.

The regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on February 18, 2009, and are now in effect.There are currently 24 international vehicular bridges and tunnels, and nine international railway structures with various forms of ownership and governance structures.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Harper on CNN: Protectionism Could Turn Recession into a Depression

(Video: CNN — Via CPC • Story: National Post)

In the interview Harper pointed out that Canada hadn’t imposed “Buy Canada” provisions in its stimulus plan, and suggested the U.S. could set off an international trade war if it tried to impose protectionist provisions in its plan. “If there is one thing that could turn a recession into a depression, it is protectionist measures across the world,” he said. He also argued that opening up the NAFTA treaty could result in never-ending negotiations that would hurt both countries, possibly including U.S. access to Canadian energy supplies.

Read the complete article/transcript here.

Is the Inventory Cycle Dead?

(Export Development Canada – Peter G. Hall)

One clear indication of impending recession is the number of economy-watchers saying “It’s different this time”. Fooled again – so far, the global economy’s woes look pretty similar to past recessions, only moreso. But the phrase hasn’t been dropped completely. With all the recent innovations in inventory management, many are wondering if the inventory cycle is dead.

Does it really matter? Absolutely – inventories usually pile up as the economy softens, and the recovery is delayed until they are worked off. These pile-ups have been substantial in the past, but there is good cause to believe that times have changed. Vast changes in computing and communication technology have revolutionized inventory management over the past economic cycle. Just-in-time product flows enabled by electronic data interchange systems have redefined flows of goods and given new importance to logistics. And the low, stable price environment, also a key feature of the past economic cycle, has reduced the economic incentive to hold inventories.

Tighter inventory management is unmistakable in current economic data. In Canada, across the economy businesses held an average of 66 days of inventories in the mid-1990s. The number has dropped steadily since, to just under 55 days last summer. Canada is not alone. The stock-to-sales ratio in the US has fallen consistently, and is now 27% below the early-1980s level. Most other developed countries have experienced the same general pattern.

The trend is great, but is tighter control helping to manage end-cycle inventory fluctuations? It may be too early to tell; the recession has just begun, and data are still coming in. But early signs are worrisome. US inventories as a share of sales spiked in the fourth quarter by more than the entire increase in the 1990-91 recession. And in just six months, the ratio has climbed by two-thirds of the increase that occurred over 18 months in the 1981-82 recession. Read more here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama Wants to Reopen NAFTA but Keep Trade Flowing

(Video: CBC • Story: Reuters)

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he still wants to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, despite a warning from Canada that this would be a mistake, but he said he did not want to end up curbing trade.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, shortly before his visit to Ottawa on Thursday, Obama also declined to characterize oil from Canada’s vast oil sands region as “dirty oil” which should somehow be curtailed.

Obama had alarmed Canada during the Democratic primaries last year when he advocated renegotiating NAFTA, and he reiterated this goal on Tuesday while recognizing these were sensitive economic times.

“As I’ve said before, NAFTA, the basic framework of the agreement, has environmental and labor protections as side agreements. My argument has always been that we might as well incorporate them into the full agreement so that they’re fully enforceable,” he said in the interview with CBC television.

However, he also said: “I think there are a lot of sensitivities right now because of the huge decline in world trade.”

Obama noted there was $1.5 billion in trade between Canada and the United States every day, adding: “It is not in anybody’s interest to see that trade diminish.” … Read the complete article here.

Canada May Resume WTO Complaint Over U.S. Label Rules

(Bloomberg – Alexandre Deslongchamps)

Canada would resume its World Trade Organization complaint against U.S. labeling rules for meat and fresh produce if U.S. President Barack Obama decides to change them, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said today [Tuesday].

The country-of-origin labeling law went into effect on an interim basis on September 30. It requires food sold in the U.S. to carry markers showing where it was produced. Obama has ordered a review of the rules before they become permanent, which had been scheduled for mid-March.

“Should the Obama administration continue on with protectionism, we will then re-ignite our WTO challenge,” Ritz said from Amman, Jordan in a telephone call with reporters.

The U.S. imposed its first country-of-origin labeling rules amid public concern about unsafe imports. Canada launched its original complaint when the rules where announced, but put it on hold after they were changed to Canada’s satisfaction.

Statistics Canada said today the U.S. labeling rules generated uncertainty about demand for Canadian meat that contributed to reducing the country’s cattle herd last year. The cattle and calf herd shrank 5.1% to 13.2 million head from 13.9 million, according to the agency. Canada is the largest foreign supplier of pork and beef to the U.S., government data show.

The Border is a Long Row to Hoe – Editorial

(Globe & Mail)

Canada will have to be constantly lobbying to limit the protectionist damage from the ambiguous U.S. stimulus bill that President Barack Obama is signing today in Denver. His meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa on Thursday needs to at least get this process off to a good start.

As it emerged from the House of Representatives, the bill favoured U.S.-made iron and steel; the Senate version favoured, more sweepingly, U.S. manufactured goods. The final Buy American clause combines the specific and the general, to protect “iron, steel and manufactured goods.”

Worse, this applies to any “public building or public work,” a phrase which is broader than earlier drafts – and undefined.

Mercifully, consistency with the international treaty obligations of the U.S. – including NAFTA and the WTO – has now been built into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the bill’s formal name), but doubts remain about whether those obligations apply to the procurement policies of states and municipalities, when state and local infrastructure projects get federal stimulus money. Such questions cannot wait for judgments in trade litigation.

Similarly, inconsistency with the public interest can be invoked to overcome the preference for U.S. products, but that presumably means the public interest of the U.S.

Another uncertainty is what rules of origin apply. This is no merely technical question; different parts of many products come from different places, and intricately entwined supply chains could be seriously disturbed if they have to be disentangled, to the detriment of both the U.S. and Canada.

Mr. Obama already has the authority under a pre-existing law to waive such preferences if they violate treaties. Moreover, the final version of the ARRA allows head of U.S. agencies to exempt types of products. One U.S. Senate staffer has offered the example of screws as a whole class, as opposed to this or that particular model of screw.This point graphically shows how persevering Canadians will need to be in persuading a host of different U.S. authorities.

Though the Ottawa meeting this week of the President and the Prime Minister may open the way for a broad exemption for Canada, Canadian governments and businesses also have to be ready for a long series of many minor battles. Wars of attrition are wearisome, but they can be won in the end.

Ont. Premier Wants Obama to Think About Canada

(Jonathan Jenkins — Sun Media)

Cars, caps and customs are all Dalton McGuinty wants to hear about when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Ottawa tomorrow.

The Ontario premier met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday and said he hopes and expects the PM to talk about the auto sector, the border and a continental cap and trade system for carbon emissions with his guest.

“I’m hoping the prime minister will raise a few issues that are a concern to Ontarians,” McGuinty said this morning.

The continuing woes of the North American automakers are an obvious topic, as Canada and Ontario want to maintain their 20% stake in the dwindling industry – and have offered $4 billion in government aid to do so.

But with most of the decisions on that file being made in Washington, it will be critical that Obama takes the Canadian position to heart.

The thickening of the Canadian border is another longstanding Ontario worry as most of the province’s goods head south.

“We need to strike the appropriate balance between a secure border and a border at the same time that permits trade, the passage of goods and people,” McGuinty said. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tentative Deal Averts Strike at B.C. Ports

(CBC News)

About 450 B.C. dock workers have reached a tentative deal with an association representing about 67 port employers, averting a potentially crippling strike at the ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

Local 514 of the International Longshore Warehouse Union reached a tentative agreement Friday with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association, but the details won’t be released until members on both sides have time to see the deal.

If both sides approve it, the deal would avert a strike that would threaten to halt cargo traffic through B.C. There have been fears that as many as 5,000 other workers involved in port operations would walk off the job to show their support if the union went on strike.

Local 514 workers have been without a contract since March 2007, and had set a strike date of January 2, but continued to work while negotiations were underway.

The main issues on the table were reportedly pension payments and working conditions.

Clement in India to Boost Trade, Tourism Ties

(Canwest News Service – Meagan Fitzpatrick)

Canada is wide open for business and is still a wise place to invest despite its weakened economy, federal Industry Minister Tony Clement is telling government officials and business leaders in India this week.

Clement arrived in India on Saturday for a six-day visit to New Delhi and Mumbai, and during a teleconference with reporters Monday he said his two primary objectives there are to encourage more foreign direct investment by Indian businesses in Canada, and to tap into the growing tourist market in India and convince vacationers to pick Canada as a destination.

During the last two days he met with ministers from the Indian government, held a round table with tour company operators to get feedback on how to market Canada, and met with a group of young professionals and entrepreneurs.

“The message was the same: that Canada is open for business, that we have withstood the economic turmoil relatively well, as compared to other G7 and OECD countries, our bank system is one of the few bank systems that hasn’t needed a bailout, for instance, and that we are positioned to get out of the contraction as quickly as possible and then start to grow again,” said Clement.

The industry minister said he told those he met with that Canada’s corporate tax structure and changes being made to the Investment Canada Act, the legislation that regulates investments made by non-Canadians in businesses in Canada, should make Canada an attractive location for Indian companies to grow.

Clement said Canada is signalling “our steps away from the protectionist ill-winds that are blowing.” He and his counterparts did discuss efforts by the United States Congress to include protectionist-type measures in that country’s economic stimulus package, Clement said, and they “came to the conclusion that Canada and India are on the same side” and that “protectionism had to be resisted.” Read more here.

Revised CBSA D-Memos


Revised: Importation and Exportation of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material

This memorandum has been updated to reflect the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations and outlines procedures for the importation, exportation and transits of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

Authorized carriers of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material are now responsible for providing the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with photocopies of the movement document and permit. These documents are to be provided to the CBSA when the export, import or transit of the hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material shipments is required to be reported under the Customs Act.

Download here (PDF)

Revised: Tariff Classification of Front-Mount Mowers

Memorandum 10-14-25 has been republished to reflect changes to the Harmonized System and thus to the Customs Tariff. There are no policy changes.

Download here (PDF)

All Eyes on U.S Plan as Canadian Deadline Looms

(Karen Howlett — Globe & Mail)

General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC are just three days away from having to submit a plan to Canadian governments, outlining how they are going to make their operations in this country viable.

But as the clock ticks down, both the companies and their unionized workers are saying little about what steps they are prepared to take, making it impossible at this stage for GM and Chrysler to talk about production guarantees for Canada, Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant said in an interview yesterday.

“Understandably, not all the parties have laid down all their cards,” he said. “This is nothing more nothing less than an important negotiation, which involves a certain amount of manoeuvring on all sides.”

Mr. Bryant said the companies should reveal some hint about the fate of their Canadian operations today, when they submit a plan to the U.S. government outlining how they are going to slash costs and trim debt to make themselves viable. The deadline for presenting a plan to Canadian governments is Friday.

In the U.S. restructuring plans, the companies are supposed to discuss their global operations as well, Mr. Bryant said.

“I would anticipate that there would be some information about their non-U.S. operations.”

But the big question is whether embattled GM can restructure its operations without sliding into bankruptcy protection. The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that the auto maker will offer a restructuring plan to the U.S. government that includes Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as one of its options. Read more here.

Harper Must Sell Canada’s Importance to U.S. Economy: Experts

(The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has one crucial mission when he meets Barack Obama for the first time Thursday - convince him that America’s economic future is irrevocably linked with Canada’s.

With the U.S. heading toward the worst slump since the Great Depression, the rookie president is under intense domestic pressure to put America first, as the recent inclusion of protectionist language in the US$800-billion stimulus package attests.

Business leaders and economists say it’s essential that Harper impress on Obama the importance of maintaining open borders and liberalized trade between the two countries, particularly during the current economic crisis.

“It would be marvellous if there were a joint declaration by both Obama and Harper saying they resolutely reject protectionism,” said Thomas d’Aquino, head of the association representing Canada’s largest corporations.

“It’s not only good for Canada and the U.S., it would be a signal to the world that the two countries that are most heavily inter-dependent on trade feel strongly on this.” Read more here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Canada Incurs Record $14 Billion Automotive Trade Deficit in 2008, Now in Deficit within North America, CAW Reports

(CAW via CNW Group)

Data newly released from Statistics Canada confirms that Canada experienced its worst-ever year in international trade in automotive products in 2008, according to an analysis from the Canadian Auto Workers union.

Canada’s automotive trade deficit more than doubled last year, to almost $14 billion - an all-time record. The 2007 deficit was $6.6 billion. Canada’s exports of finished vehicles declined dramatically (by almost one quarter) as a result of the financial crisis and resulting collapse of U.S. auto sales.

Imports of auto parts (which are used in Canadian auto factories) also declined. But imports of finished vehicles from offshore grew again (for the fifth straight year), despite the economic crisis.

The aggregate data reveal several worrying trends. For the first time in decades Canada experienced a net auto trade deficit within North America.

Canada’s traditional auto trade surplus with the U.S. plunged to just $4 billion (barely one-fifth the level of three years ago). That surplus with the U.S. no longer offsets Canada’s long-standing auto trade deficit with Mexico (which equaled $4.5 billion last year), leaving a small combined deficit for the NAFTA region as a whole.

Read more here. A detailed table summarizing the 2008 auto trade data is available here.

December Manufacturing Sales Plummet

(David Ljunggren — Reuters/Globe & Mail)

The value of Canadian manufacturing shipments plummeted a record 8.0 per cent in December from November in yet another stark sign of how the global crisis is battering Canada.

The drop – the fifth consecutive month-on-month decrease – was far steeper than the 5.3 per cent fall predicted by analysts and was the worst since Statistics Canada adopted its current method of calculating the data in January 1992.

Statscan released the data Monday and slightly revised November's month-on-month fall to 6.2 per cent from an initial plunge of 6.4 per cent.

Recent Canadian economic numbers have been little short of calamitous. Job losses in January were the biggest on record while sales of previously owned homes last month were 41 per cent down from a year earlier.

As if that were not bad enough, Canada posted its first trade deficit in almost 33 years in December.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told Reuters in Rome on Saturday that “I expect the numbers of all kinds to continue getting worse month after month this year.” Read more here.

U.S. Set to Launch Unmanned Aerial Drones to Monitor Manitoba Border

(CBC News)

The first unmanned surveillance airplanes will start patrolling the Manitoba portion of Canada's border with the U.S. after a ceremonial launch Monday, officials say.

Based at a military facility in Grand Forks, N.D., the $10-million Predator drone aircraft are equipped with sensors capable of detecting a moving person from 10 kilometres away.

They will gather information as they fly along the 400-kilometre border and then transmit it back to operators who will in turn contact border agents. The drones will not carry weapons, such as missiles or laser-guided bombs, and will need permission to fly in Canadian airspace.

Manitoba has 12 official border crossings — only two are open 24 hours a day. Much of the land in between the crossings is either swampland, lakes or farmers' fields.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Ron Obodzinski said the new surveillance planes will be a big help in the fight against the smuggling of drugs, alcohol and people.

“The program is going to enhance our relationship between our American partners and the Canadian agencies,” he said. Read more here.

G7 Accused of Being ‘Asleep at the Wheel’

(Edmund Conway — The Telegraph)

The Group of Seven leading finance ministers has been accused of being “asleep at the wheel” after its closely-watched communique on the state of the world economic system merely repeated the same exhortations it has used at summit after summit.

The G7 held its spring meeting in Rome over the weekend but made only minor changes to its statement, sparking fears that ministers have run out of new ideas with which to tackle the global financial crisis.

The statement warned of the risks inherent in protectionism, and that further drastic measures were needed from governments around the world to bail out their banking systems.

But despite hours of discussion at the meeting explicitly about the financial crisis, the ministers could not agree on a firm commitment to take further measures, such as setting up a system of bad banks to absorb toxic assets.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, now a professor at MIT, said the G7 was “asleep at the wheel”, adding: “[The meeting] was a great opportunity for this group of leading industrial countries to reassert its leadership in the global economy.

“Instead, all we received officially is a communique that blandly restates what these documents always say.”

Mr Johnson had warned that a number of countries including Ireland were at increasing risk of defaulting on their national debt – something hinted at by the relentless increase in the credit default swaps on sovereign debt – a means of insuring against the likelihood of countries failing to pay their debts. Read more here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Canada to Use ‘Intensive’ Approach in Washington

(CTV News)

Canada will push American legislators to be mindful of their international trade commitments as the U.S. moves ahead with its massive US$787 billion stimulus bill that includes amended, but still contentious, “Buy American” provisions.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day said Sunday that Canada will employ a “collaborative but intensive” approach in Washington over the next few months.

“We’re going to be protecting Canadian interests and working in a collaborative way, but reminding our trading partners in the U.S. that we have agreements and we live up to our agreements and we expect all our partners to do the same,” Day told CTV’s Question Period.

While President Barack Obama has made it clear that the U.S. cannot renege on its trade commitments in implementing its “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus bill, Day said that Canada has some concerns.

“It will be a matter of political will to make sure that the other parts of that bill, which suggest that only U.S. products — iron, steel and other products — can be used in the bidding of their own infrastructure process,” Day said. Read more here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Manufacturers Consider Migrating Back to U.S.

(Industry Week – Adrienne Selko)

In the last three years, manufacturers have seen a significant increase in costs related to off-shoring manufacturing for export purposes rather than in country demand.

A new study by Archstone Consulting shows that companies are contemplating the re-establishment of manufacturing domestically, amid rising costs and other strategic challenges within the off-shoring model. As companies reassess their manufacturing and supply chain strategies for today’s global economic environment, the trend may create significant job opportunities in the U.S., according to the recent study.

“For years, the concept of off-shoring, or moving production and/or sourcing operations to a foreign country, has been the mantra of any supply chain manager looking to cut costs,” said John Ferreira, Principal, Archstone Consulting. “Now, amid volatile oil prices and an uncertain global economic future, this analysis no longer is a certainty. Furthermore, companies that will commit to domestic manufacturing can spur much-needed improvements in customer service, innovation and job creation – especially when servicing the large domestic market.” Read more here.

China Exports Suffer Record 17.5% Decline

(Financial Times – Geoff Dyer)

Chinese exports recorded their biggest decline in more than a decade in January, falling 17.5% from the same month the year before as the impact of the global economic slump gathered pace.
Imports to China plummeted a dramatic 43.1% in a further indication of sharply lower demand in the Chinese economy over the past few months which has caused unemployment to soar. Both figures were worse than expected.

January was the third month in a row in which Chinese exports fell. But the pace of decline accelerated from the 2.8% drop in December and the decline in imports was much sharper than the 21.3% contraction in December.

Economists cautioned that the January trade figures partly reflected the earlier lunar new year holiday this year, which meant there were fewer working days than in the same month the year before. The full picture will become clear only when February’s data become available. Peng Wensheng at Barclays Capital estimated that after taking into account holidays, exports declined by 7% in January and imports by 35.9%.

However, even with that caveat, many had been expecting a steep contraction in China’s exports given the recent trade figures from other large Asian exporters. Taiwan’s exports fell 42% in December, South Korea’s by 17% and Japan’s by 35%. All three countries are important suppliers of components that are assembled in factories in China. Read more here.

More Companies Using ACE Periodic Payment to Lower Costs, Streamline Operations – CBP

(World Trade Interactive)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that the periodic monthly statement process available under the Automated Commercial Environment is growing in popularity. This process allows importers and brokers to pay duties and fees monthly instead of on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

A recent CBP press release states that during the last six months of 2008 nearly $7 billion in duties and fees was collected from importers and brokers using this process. For all of 2008 CBP collected $12.5 billion from ACE participants, a more than 450% increase over 2005.

CBP states that periodic monthly statement processing may provide participants with a significant cash flow advantage, as entry summaries for goods entered or released during the previous month are consolidated and can be paid on the 15th working day of the following month. In addition, the monthly statements obtained through ACE can streamline accounting and report processing by providing an electronic record for companies to trace their import activities and quickly generate easy-to-use business reports.

Obama Backs Off ‘Buy American’

(Politico – Carol E. Lee)

President Barack Obama’s visit to a Caterpillar manufacturing plant Thursday did more than focus attention on his efforts to create working-class jobs, as administration officials hoped. It provided the perfect backdrop to highlight Obama’s change of heart on controversial “Buy American” provisions that require government-funded projects to use only U.S.-made materials.

The issue has forced Obama to dance between rival camps of supporters in the debate over his economic stimulus bill. Labor unions wanted a strong Buy American provision in the plan; U.S. trade partners and companies with significant overseas exports, such as Caterpillar, oppose the proviso.

It’s unclear exactly where the president, who during the campaign ran “Buy American, Vote Obama” ads in labor-heavy states, currently stands on the issue. But citing the economic crisis, he now says he supports a watered-down version of the Buy American provisions contained in the House and Senate stimulus bills.

Obama said his reversal was prompted by concern that tough Buy American requirements ultimately could spark international trade wars.

And on Thursday, he visited Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest mining and construction equipment manufacturer – a company that couldn’t be more American if it manufactured apple pie but whose chief executive led the attack on Buy American mandates in the stimulus bill. Read more here.

Canada and NAFTA – No Mariachis, Please

(The Economist)

Some Canadians think they are more important than Mexicans

For the past 15 years Canada and Mexico have been joined with the United States in the three-way North American Free-Trade Agreement. But both still set much more store by their bilateral relationship with their superpower neighbour. This has led to sometimes farcical rivalry. To the joy of Canadian officials, Barack Obama is making his first, albeit brief, foreign visit as American president to Ottawa on February 19th. But Mexican officials whisper that their president, Felipe Calderón, got in first with a lunch with Mr Obama days before his inauguration.

More seriously, a growing number of Canadians, including politicians, trade negotiators and former ambassadors, have called for their government to turn its back on NAFTA and put all its efforts into improving bilateral ties with Washington. Canada was always a reluctant member of NAFTA, joining the talks mostly to safeguard gains made in a bilateral free-trade deal with the United States concluded five years earlier. Politicians chafe when Canada is lumped together with Mexico, as happened last year during Mr Obama’s campaign when he vowed to renegotiate NAFTA to protect Americans from weak environmental and labour standards. Even more woundingly, Janet Napolitano, the new secretary of homeland security, who is a former governor of Arizona, ordered a review of the northern border, saying that it presented a greater terrorist threat than the southern one.

Peter Harder, a former Canadian deputy foreign minister, argues that NAFTA holds back bilateral ties. “It is not in our interests to allow the speed of three to define the relationship of two,” says Mr Harder. “We have trilateralised for too long.” That view has been echoed by John Manley, a former Liberal deputy prime minister.

In fact many cross-border problems differ only in degree. That applies to the drug trade, gun smuggling, border security, the environment and illegal immigration. All three countries have a stake in the floundering car industry, which is organised on a North American basis. Canada and Mexico are the United States’ top two suppliers of imported energy, giving them both an interest in Mr Obama’s plans for energy and environmental measures. Read more here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CPSC Issues Guidance Document on CPSIA Requirements

(World Trade Interactive)

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a guidance document that is specifically designed to educate small businesses, resellers, crafters and charities about some of the more relevant provisions included in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The guide includes a useful review in a question-and-answer format of a broad range of CPSIA-related issues, including, for example, product coverage, testing requirements, compliance with the new lead and phthalate bans, exemptions and exclusions from the lead content limits, donations and requirements for resellers. Click here for the complete article.

Vilsack: U.S. Should Have Single Food Inspection Agency

( - Jerry Hagstrom, Congress Daily)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday he favors a single food safety agency, but he has not decided whether it should be located in the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration or an independent agency.

Commenting on the salmonella peanut butter scandal, Vilsack told the U.S. Rice Federation that the issue of centralization is key because food safety is both a human health and market issue.

“We are the only industrial nation to have two systems,” Vilsack said, a reference to USDA’s responsibility for meat, poultry and eggs and FDA’s responsibility for most other food products. Read the full story here.

Buy America is Just the Beginning of Our Trouble

(Embassy – Leslie Campbell)

The “Buy American” clause in the U.S. economic stimulus bill could turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of trade hurdles emanating from the new Democratic Congress.

The mini-crisis about Buy American may pass, but it would be a mistake to view its insertion in the bill as an anomaly to be ignored. Congress is in a mood to protect and reward local fiefdoms and to penalize the multi-national corporations perceived to be exporting jobs.

In one example of newfound chutzpah, seven Democratic senators wrote on February 4 to Tom Vilsack, President Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary, asking him to revise country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rules to protect against food produced in countries with “fewer health and safety standards” in order to “boost our livestock producers.”

Canada and Mexico have the most to lose from COOL and most Canadians would be surprised to learn that their country has fewer health standards than the U.S. The senators’ request seems to be aimed more at shoring up domestic industry than genuinely targeting food safety.

In another example of the congressional mood, a bill hidden deep in the shadows of the stimulus debate would, according to its sponsors, give the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) more authority to “enforce trade agreements we already have” in order to “stem the outflow of U.S. manufacturing jobs due to trade competition.”

The Senate bill, introduced February 2, is co-sponsored by moderate Maine Republican Olympia Snowe and Montana Democrat Max Baucus, with support from Democrats Kent Conrad and Jay Rockefeller. Calling it the “Trade CLAIM Act,” the senators want to force the USTR to act on virtually every complaint about foreign trade practices brought forward by U.S. industry. From Canada’s perspective, U.S. industry already uses questionable trade complaints to harass their Canadian counterparts, particularly in the softwood lumber industry. Read more here.

Produce Tracking Initiative Web Site Launched

(American Shipper)

The North American produce industry has launched a Web site to promote an initiative to standardize the tracking and tracing of fruits and vegetables from the field to store shelf., administered by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Produce Marketing Association, and United Fresh Produce Association, includes resources and educational tools for those companies interested in learning more about the Produce Traceability Initiative.

“There are still important industry questions that need to be answered and we plan to use the Web site as an information forum,” said Cathy Green, PTI Steering Committee chairman and Food Lion’s chief operating officer, in a statement.

Since October 2008, more than 40 companies from throughout the produce supply chain have endorsed the recommendations developed by the PTI Steering Committee to move the supply chain to a common electronic tracing standard by the end of 2012.

EDC Has ‘Legitimate’ Role In Domestic Market: Legislative Review

(National Post – Paul Vieira)

In its budget, the federal government proposed to give Export Development Canada new powers to enter the domestic financing business – a move observers said could lead to a boost in loans available for new projects. The Conservatives perhaps got the idea from people they had previously employed to look at EDC’s mandate.

A group of consultants reporting to the Minister of International Trade just conducted a legally-mandated review of EDC that recommended there was a “legitimate” role for the Crown agency in the domestic financing field.

“There appears to be a legitimate case for reviewing EDC’s ability to provide support for domestic financing transactions,” said the just-completed legislative review of EDC, conducted by Ottawa-based International Financial Consulting, which was tabled in the House of Commons Monday afternoon by the Trade Minister, Stockwell Day.

The review, at 154 pages, said that any EDC activity in the domestic market should be restricted to “ filling gaps and to complementing the activities of private and public sector financing entities, such as the banks and [Crown-owned] Business Development Bank of Canada. The objective should clearly and explicitly be to increase and to enhance the capacity of the banks and other financial institutions and not to compete with them.”

In gathering testimony, the consultants said the country’s banks “have strong views in this area. While they acknowledge EDC’s existing activities in support of catalyzing financing capacity for smaller Canadian exporters, they express concern about EDC expanding into areas that could overlap with the banks’ existing markets and clients.”

EDC said it is in the midst of reviewing how and where it can use these newfound powers, which will be made official once the budget implementation bill before the House of Commons is passed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rupert Murdoch: Don’t Give Up on Open Markets


Newscorp CEO Rupert Murdoch champions the open market and cautions against the “very dangerous move...towards protectionism” among international economies.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Protectionist Virus: Editorial

(National Post)

Protectionism is one of those bad ideas that never seems to go away, no matter how many economists remind us just how discredited it truly is. Whenever there is any sort of downturn, you will always find some populist faction or other willing to peddle the idea as the solution to a nation’s ills.

In the United States, this intellectual bottom-feeding has taken expression in the proposed “Buy America” provisions of the stimulus bill slowly taking form on Capitol Hill, which would require that any steel and iron (and, possibly, other materials) used in stimulus-funded projects be purchased from domestic suppliers. To his great credit, President Barack Obama opposes this restriction. But the Buy America bill has significant support in Congress, as well as among the trade unions on which the Democrats rely for support.

Here in Canada, on the other hand, the two major federal parties have shown a refreshing reluctance to engage in protectionist sabre-rattling. As Allan Gotlieb and Milos Barutciski noted in Saturday’s National Post, provincial governments, too, generally have refrained from talk of trade barriers. The current crisis, the two authors note, gives Canada the opportunity to “reclaim our historic role as one of the world’s greatest trading nations.”

Unfortunately, not all Canadian politicians are similarly farsighted. Somewhat predictably, NDP leader Jack Layton is arguing that Canada should adopt a “Buy Canadian” strategy.

“The United States has had a ‘Buy American’ act for 76 years,” Mr. Layton declared last week.

“It’s perfectly legal under the World Trade Organization, and, in fact, under NAFTA, governments are allowed to buy at home in order to use taxpayers’ money to create jobs for workers and to support communities and their industries ... Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea, they all have national procurement policies, and it would be a good idea for Canada. Can the prime minister tell us what’s wrong with a ‘Buy Canadian’ policy as permitted under continental and global trade rules?”

One cannot be struck at how the far left, which casts itself as all in favour of peaceful internationalism in just about every other context, always lines up with the economic Luddites when it comes to trade. Read more here.

B.C. Port Labour Talks to Resume February 12

(Alberta Farmer – Alana Vannahme)

Federally appointed mediators have set February 12-13 as the next dates for contract negotiations between Local 514 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada (ILWU) and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

The two groups have been trying for months to draft a new collective agreement and avoid a strike at B.C.’s busy Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert ports. The local’s members, roughly 450 ship and dock foremen, have been without a contract since March 2008. Since then, efforts to reach a labour agreement have been unsuccessful, including an intense round of negotiations which began in December after the local threatened to issue a 72-hour strike notice at the beginning of January.

In the event of a strike, it’s expected that more than 5,000 other ILWU members would support Local 514 by joining the picket line.

Some companies that rely on the busy West Coast gateways to transport goods in and out of Canada have been diverting their freight away from B.C. since the threat of a strike in January first emerged. However, the January 26 resumption of the House of Commons following a seven-week suspension has taken some of the uncertainty out of the situation.

If a strike were to occur now, the union’s members could be legislated back to work by the federal government, a move they have supported in the past.

DHS Gets $4.7b in Senate Stimulus Bill; Air, Border Security Big Winners

(HS Today – Anthony L. Kimery)

In the final version of the Senate’s shaky 778-page, $827 billion economic stimulus bill arduously hammered out by moderate Democrats and Republicans over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) emerged with $4.7 billion for aviation security, border enforcement and other programs and activities.

In addition, there’s significant funding for first responders, law enforcement, mass transit and port security and other homeland security-related needs under non-DHS funding programs.
While the Senate bill overall contains less money for DHS than the initial Senate stimulus package, Senators redirected and refocused a lot of the money that they kept in their final bill, especially in areas of aviation and border security.

Several Capitol Hill staffers familiar with the matter who were reached by late Sunday night said on background the fact that both the House and Senate bills contain funding for DHS programs is a clear indication that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand the importance of homeland security and the urgency to continue to work to plug certain potentially exploitable vulnerabilities in security.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “largely based on historical spending patterns for affected programs, CBO estimates that most of [the] funds [for DHS] would be spent over the 2009-2011 period.” Read the complete article here (PDF).

Justified Rates

(Traffic World Online – John Gallagher)

As LTL shippers take advantage of the best leverage over transportation rates they’ve had in decades, they’re finding their influence over how those rates are determined may have taken a hit.

The first arbitration proceeding carried out under the auspices of a revamped National Motor Freight Traffic Association – now operating without the benefit of antitrust immunity, which was eliminated by Surface Transportation Board in December 2007 – revealed that shippers might have to work harder to show why the classification of their products should or should not be changed.

Since 1956, the National Motor Freight Classification has served as the benchmark against which rates are determined, with carriers determining rates on a scale based on a product’s classification. And a classification change often leads to an increase or decrease in the corresponding base transportation rate.

“When they enjoyed antitrust immunity, the NMFTA had the burden of proving the reasonableness of a classification change – that’s out now,” said Fritz R. Kahn, who arbitrated the classification case.

“Effectively the burden has shifted to shippers to prove that the classification is not reasonable.”
The January 22 decision, which involved changing the classification of paint products, was mundane: non-hazardous paint products will keep the same classification, and those deemed to be hazardous will be rated one class higher. But with an estimated 60% of the paints transported now considered to be hazardous, upping the classification – and subsequently the rate which carriers would charge to move them – may not be a small consequence for the $20 billion paint industry. Read more here.

U.S. Oil Stockpiles Continue to Build, Undermining OPEC’s Cuts

(Wall Street Journal – David Bird)

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut crude-oil output by nearly 1.3 million barrels a day in January in an attempt to tame the supply glut that is anchoring prices near $40 a barrel.

But as the cartel tightened the taps, crude-oil inventories in the U.S. were increasing by 700,000 to 900,000 barrels a day. That growth rate, the most seen in the month of January in 85 years and the highest in any month since at least October 2002, is a setback to OPEC’s efforts.

Crude oil is piling up as the global economic crisis has cut consumer demand for petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. The oversupply that is driving down near-term prices makes it profitable for refiners to amass crude-oil inventories.

Rising inventories are a further blow to OPEC, which is reeling from the fall in global oil demand and prices. Crude-oil futures are down 72% from their record above $145 a barrel hit in July. Each barrel of oil that goes into storage in consumer countries weakens the cartel’s hold on the market and potentially prolongs the price skid.

OPEC pledged to cut output by 4.2 million barrels a day in September. Since then, the group has cut production by a total 3.135 million barrels a day, indicating a compliance rate of 75%, a survey by Dow Jones Newswires estimates.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter and OPEC member, cut output below its agreed level of 8.05 million barrels a day in January. Saudi output of 7.9 million barrels a day was the lowest since October 2002. Now, analysts said, the plunge, alongside oil’s inability to recover, will require deeper cuts by Saudi Arabia and OPEC to prop up the market. Read more here.

DHS Gets $4.7b in Senate Stimulus Bill; Air, Border Security Big Winners

(HS Today – Anthony L. Kimery)

In the final version of the Senate’s shaky 778-page, $827 billion economic stimulus bill arduously hammered out by moderate Democrats and Republicans over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) emerged with $4.7 billion for aviation security, border enforcement and other programs and activities.

In addition, there’s significant funding for first responders, law enforcement, mass transit and port security and other homeland security-related needs under non-DHS funding programs.
While the Senate bill overall contains less money for DHS than the initial Senate stimulus package, Senators redirected and refocused a lot of the money that they kept in their final bill, especially in areas of aviation and border security.

Several Capitol Hill staffers familiar with the matter who were reached by late Sunday night said on background the fact that both the House and Senate bills contain funding for DHS programs is a clear indication that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand the importance of homeland security and the urgency to continue to work to plug certain potentially exploitable vulnerabilities in security.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “largely based on historical spending patterns for affected programs, CBO estimates that most of [the] funds [for DHS] would be spent over the 2009-2011 period.” Read the complete article here (PDF).

Friday, February 6, 2009

GHY Named One of Canada’s 50 Best-Managed Companies

Giving Customers the Human Touch
(Philip Quinn — Financial Post)

The creation of post-9/11 Fortress America made it imperative for exporting and importing companies to find a way to efficiently handle the reporting requirements for each shipment of goods. That tangle of red tape creates business opportunities for a company such as GHY International, which can trace its roots back to 1901.

“We are a service business to importers and exporters,” says Richard Riess, president and CEO. “We’re involved in executing the transactional reporting to the governments of Canada and the United States on behalf of importers and exporters. For every movement across the border, there’s a requirement to report a minimum of 30 to 40 pieces of information on each of those shipments.”

GHY has invested in state-of-the-art technology that allows it to seamlessly communicate with its customers and customs offices in the United States and Canada. It also prides itself on providing its customers with the human touch.

“We offer the best of both worlds: As companies look at their options for trade services, they’re looking for partners that can deliver all the important technology-based solutions but also maintain close personal relationships and accountability for performance,” says Reynold Martens, executive vice-president.

Growth in the past five years has been phenomenal: In 2003, the company had$1.9-billion in total trade under management; that increased to $5.2-billion in 2008. “We can, from our location here, clear shipments at any port in North America,” Mr. Riess says.

The company’s slogan is “One Border-One Broker,” and it has cleared shipments for such Top 500 companies as Arctic Cat, Nygard International and Unilever Canada. For its major clients it has a program called MARP (Major Account Relationship Program), which emphasizes taking a big-picture perspective and planning ahead rather than reacting to everyday operational demands.

“The way we manage our business is in teams of individuals, six at a time, who have varying levels of experience. But it all starts with an account management consultant who has five technicians who work with him,” Mr. Riess says.

To keep up with the growing demand for its services, the company has opened new offices. “We’ve expanded our locations to include Vancouver, a partnership in Calgary, an office in Toronto and our U. S. head office in Pembina, N.D.,” Mr. Martens says.

Manitoba Firm Added to Best Managed List
(Martin Cash — Winnipeg Free Press)

Manitoba companies made another good showing in the annual list of the 50 best-managed companies in the country with two new entries on the 2008 roster — Genesis Hospitality Inc. and GHY International.

The program has been in existence since 1993 and is managed by the professional services firm Deloitte & Touche. It provides an independent evaluation of the management skills and practices of Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $10 million. Rick Soenen, Deloitte’s Winnipeg partner in its private companies services group, said the new entrants are characteristic of the province's diversified economy with companies from just about every sector finding their way on the list year after year. The effects of the economic downturn that started to take hold of the economy in late 2008 will probably be more evident in next year’s program.

GHY International — Founded in 1901 by George. H. Young, the great grandfather of CEO Richard Riess, GHY International is probably one of Winnipeg’s many unknown jewels.

Now run by the fourth generation of the original founder’s family, it has grown with the global economic trend towards ever-increasing trade flows, especially between Canada and the United States. GHY has about 110 employees mostly in Winnipeg, although the firm also has offices in Emerson, Toronto, Vancouver and Pembina and Fargo, N.D. Customs brokers consolidate all the information in the supply chain and provide the compliance reports required by authorities at both sides of an international trade.

The company does work for more than 2,000 companies, including big-name Winnipeg firms like New Flyer Industries, Nygard International, Bristol Aerospace and E.H. Price.