U.S. Infrastructure Feels Weight of Imports


Industry Seeks Improved Ports, Rails and Possibly Insurance

Rapid growth in U.S. imports is raising concern among many industry executives that the transportation infrastructure in the United States is not keeping pace with relentless world trade growth, and that if this issue is left unaddressed, consumers and the U.S. economy in general will suffer. Following are some updates on growth in the logistics sector:

Executives addressed the issue of outdated infrastructure at the Innovations in Transportation symposium held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and produced by the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. John Bowe, president of the Americas region of logistics provider APL, said that transportation infrastructure hasnt kept pace with the unprecedented growth in containerized imports that is transforming the U.S. economy. APL reports that containerized U.S. imports from Asia will grow by about 30 percent in the next three years.

Without upgrades to U.S. infrastructure, bogged down supply chains and rising consumer prices can be expected, said Bowe, who called for public-private collaboration to achieve a national freight policy, significant new investment in the U.S. rail network and increased productivity at U.S. ports. He said that government cant be counted on to pick up the massive cost of infrastructure improvement, but should provide incentives to stimulate investment.

Hub International Northeast reports that growing port congestion along the Pacific Rim, outsourcing backlash in the United States and trade conflicts with China are stressing international trade and creating a very risky environment for the apparel industry.

The company said that trade disruption insurance (TDI) has emerged as a critical form of coverage as apparel businesses implement complex practices such as overseas outsourcing and just-in-time production. In environments plagued with political tension and chaotic port activity, there is no guarantee that vessels will travel unimpeded and arrive on schedule, says Ken Schreiber, senior vice president.

TDI is necessary when no actual loss or damage to goods exists, yet the importer cannot gain access to its goods in a timely manner. Such delays can devalue inventory, causing crippling financial repercussions. TDI provides coverage for natural perils, transit risks and political risks.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics reports that its global operations grew 18.4 percent in 2005, to $3 billion, and that the United States remains a major engine for growth for the privately held company. The company experienced strong global growth and also launched a U.S. division as part of its strategy to expand its domestic U.S. market.
Jordan K. Speer
For more information: www.apl.com, www.ctl.mit.edu, www.hubinternational.com, www.hellmann.net

J. Jill Goes Live with TradeCard

TradeCard Extends Central American Presence with ITS Partnership

Multi-channel retailer J. Jill has implemented the TradeCard platform, which will enable the company to eliminate manual tasks, automate processes from procurement to payment and replace letters of credit, TradeCard reports. J. Jills rollout was completed in fewer than 90 days.

In other news, TradeCard has partnered with Innovative Trade Services Corp. (ITS) to develop a fund comprised of resources from Central American banks and other financial institutions to offer pre- and post-export financing to TradeCard members in CAFTA-DR countries.

This partnership supports the ongoing growth of Central American trade by providing financial services and a technology platform for secure, automated transactions with buyers and suppliers worldwide, the company reports.

The TradeCard platform processes more than $500 million in transactions monthly and is expected to settle $6 billion in global trade flows this year. ITS will manage the fund, called the Central American Fund for Trade (CAFTrade), and with several regional banks, will fund the first wave of transactions.
For more information: www.tradecard.com

TradeStone Offers Service-Based Software Suite

TradeStone Software is offering its TradeStone Suite via a Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model. The new service-based version is available for $100 to $300 per user monthly, and can be up and running in two weeks, the company reports. TradeStones Unified Buying Engine uses web services technology to layer across an organizations existing infrastructure. The firms modular software is designed to fill in buying process gaps to provide a single view, access and interaction across the procurement process.

The firms SaaS strategy, which decreases the cost of accessing its technology, is designed to make TradeStone software more accessible to small- to mid-sized retailers, product developers and global suppliers. For instance, small apparel suppliers can use TradeStones virtual product showroom and production collaboration features to provide information to much larger buying organizations, TradeStone reported.

The service-based version of the TradeStone Suite is designed to enable buyers and trading companies to quickly develop product ideas and communicate them to potential suppliers by generating requests for quotes (RFQs) that are put out to bid to manufacturers worldwide. The software normalizes disparate currencies, languages and lead times, and automatically calculates the estimated landed costs for goods.

Product managers and buyers can use the system to compare offers from different manufacturers. Buying organizations also can use the system to create sampling, pre-production and production plans that can be managed collaboratively with their suppliers.
For more information: www.tradestonesoftware.com

Order Logistics Buys eBridge

Order Logistics Inc. is acquiring eBridge Solutions, a supplier of supply chain collaboration and management technology with apparel and textile clients including Kellwood, Liz Claiborne and Springs Industries.

Among other solutions, eBridge offers the SupplierBridge software for automatically enrolling, certifying and managing compliance with global suppliers. Both firms said the acquisition would accelerate their development of technology for the global sourcing management and logistics marketplace.

In other news, eBridge Solutions chief technology officer Brad Cunningham has been profiled in the new book, The Momentum Journey: Breakdown at Exit 63, which explores entrepreneurialism.
For more information: www.orderlogistics.com, www.ebridge.ws

GENCO Names New Senior VP of Parcel Solutions

GENCO has appointed Daniel Sellers to its supply chain management (SCM) division as senior vice president of parcel solutions. Sellers will be responsible for all aspects of GENCOs parcel solutions, focusing on business development and managing existing processes to efficiently grow the business and add value for customers.
For more information: www.genco.com

TradeBeam Ranks High for Logistics

TradeBeam has been selected, for the third consecutive year, as one of Inbound Logistics magazines Top 100 logistics IT vendors. The ranking recognizes companies that provide world-class solutions that best meet the diverse and growing needs of the logistics industry. Neiman Marcus and Liz Claiborne are among TradeBeams clients in the apparel and retail markets.
For more information: www.tradebeam.com

NGC Expands in China

New Generation Computing Inc. has expanded its China operations to include new facilities in Shenzhen (adjacent to Hong Kong), Shanghai, and Xian. These locations will allow NGC to provide local support for its U.S. customers and their supply chain partners.
For more information: www.ngcsoftware.com

2007 Tariff Changes Pose Compliance Concerns

Countries using the Harmonized System nomenclature, including the United States, are slated to implement significant changes to their tariff schedules as of Jan. 1, 2007. Importers and exporters should act now to ensure that they bring their procedures into compliance with these changes, both in the United States and abroad, to avoid entry delays, increased duties and other implementation-related concerns, said customs and international trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. (ST&R). Some examples of apparel- and textile-related changes include a revised definition for man-made fibers and a specific provision for elastomeric yarns in Chapter 54.

Anti-Dumping Decision in Chinese Candle Case Could Affect Apparel Importers

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) recently imposed antidumping (AD) duties of 108.30 percent on mixed-wax candles from China in a reversal of its previous rulings that such candles were not subject to the AD duty. In a controversial move, the DOC also determined that importers are liable for the new duties retroactive to February 2005. This willingness to retroactively expand the scope of AD assessments could have significant implications for a wide range of imported products, says ST&R. The law firm reports that while some attorneys believe such retroactive liability violates U.S. trade law, it is unaware of any court ruling on that issue. In the absence of a definitive judicial decision, the DOC is likely to continue this practice in future investigations, which could result in unforeseen and possibly substantial liability for importers of numerous types of products.

CAFTA-DR Implementation Ongoing

As of press time, it appeared that the Dominican Republic likely would enter the agreement by Aug. 1, reports the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). Guatemala joined CAFTA-DR on July 1, while Costa Rica is not expected to ratify and implement the agreement before the end of the year. The AAFA reports that it continues to work with the Bush administration and Congress to resolve problems generated by staggered implementation.

AAFA Seeks Renewal of Sanctions on Burma

The AAFA has called on the U.S. Congress to renew the economic sanctions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which expired July 31. In letters to key members of the House and Senate, AAFA president and CEO Kevin Burke called for quick approval of H.J. Res. 86. The sanctions imposed under the 2003 law include a ban on all products of Burma that are imported directly or indirectly into the United States.
For more information: www.strtrade.com, www.apparelandfootwear.org

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