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The global freight-forwarding market could contract in value by as much as 7.5% in 2020, according to new research from Transport Intelligence.
Ti said freight forwarders face an "extremely challenging year" as a result of economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The firm's projections are particularly dire for the air forwarding market, "which was already struggling amid strong headwinds from the U.S.-China trade war, falling production in key verticals such as automotive, and a wider economic slowdown."
Ti's "best-case" scenario for 2020 envisions a 2% decline in freight-forwarding market value. But if the health crisis endures and lockdowns continue through the rest of the year, the prediction worsens to 7.5%.
"2020 looks all but guaranteed to be a painful year for forwarders, and the numbers here make for some grim reading," said Michael Clover, Ti’s Head of Commercial Development. "There are reasons for hope, however, with signs that Asian markets are emerging from the crisis, and increasing momentum in Europe and North America behind an easing of restrictions, at least in certain sectors of the economy.
"The obvious hope is that this continues, and that we’ll see a bounce in activity and volumes in the second half of the year,” Clover said.
The buildup of cargo with no place to be stored or sold is raising risk factors for carriers and warehouses, according to TT Club.
The coronavirus pandemic is resulting in a lag between producers in Asia and the consuming markets of North America and Europe, TT Club said. Containers full of cargo are therefore building up at destination ports and transshipment facilities, raising the possibility of theft, spoilage, unsanitary conditions and improper storage of hazardous materials.
Ninety percent of warehouse capacity in the UK is already full, and is expected to reach saturation point within two weeks, according to the UK Warehousing Association.
Security presents the dominant risk issue for cargo handlers and warehouses, said Michael Yarwood, Managing Director of Loss Prevention at TT Club. “Whether it’s taking up buildings not usually used for storage or laden vehicles parked adjacent to a full warehouse, or simply facilities unfamiliar to the operator, the security regime may not be of a similar standard. This concern is not just limited to fencing, lighting, security patrols and CCTV, but also communication with hauliers delivering cargo to the unfamiliar premises.
"There is also the constant danger of vehicles being diverted into the hands of criminals; so-called round the corner theft,” Yarwood said.
In a nationwide survey of 1,500 consumers, 59% of respondents said they will be more likely to use curbside pickup following the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, more than 75% of those who subscribe to multiple delivery services "will likely opt for curbside delivery once the pandemic subsides," CommerceHub said. And 69% said they would be more willing to subscribe to a delivery service for essential items following the pandemic.
The survey also revealed some dissatisfaction among consumers over the delivery services they have been using during the lockdown period mandated by state and local governments. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they have searched for an item to purchase online, only to find that it was out of stock. In addition, extended delivery times during the COVID-19 outbreak "are causing shoppers to lose trust in retailers."
Even Amazon Prime customers don't trust that orders will be delivered on time, Commerce Hub said.
McDonald’s Canadian restaurants will begin sourcing beef from outside the country due to supply chain issues amid the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.
The burger chain said sourcing imported beef was an interim measure following processing capacity limitations at its suppliers — citing the temporary closure of Cargill’s High River, Alberta facility.
The company also plans to temporarily remove Angus burgers from its Canadian menu nationally.
Demand for Microsoft's cloud services helped generate strong earnings this quarter, but supply-chain constraints impacted the company’s cloud infrastructure spending, according to ZDNet.
As of April 29, Microsoft's Teams group-chat platform is now at 75 million daily active users — up from 44 million in mid-March.
Microsoft says its supply chain, which is based primarily in Asia, has recovered faster than expected, but constraints on the server components needed for data centers resulted in "delayed cloud infrastructure spend."
The company said it expects a "material sequential increase in capital expenditures for cloud services" during the next fiscal quarter.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health is urging scientists and investors to compete in a national challenge that will help the agency identify the best candidates for at-home or point-of-care tests for COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.
The NIH is likening the program to “Shark Tank,” the reality television show where entrepreneurs compete for financial backing. Scientists and innovators will vie for a share of a $500 million fund that will be awarded to those with the most promising technologies. Finalists will also be matched with technical, manufacturing and business experts to help advance their products.
The NIH said the objective is to make millions of accurate and easy-to-use tests per week available to all Americans by the end of summer 2020, and even more in time for the flu season. The contest is part of a new program called the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative, which received $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funding, the agency said.
Boeing has unveiled deep cuts to jobs and production as the manufacturer rushes to adapt to a shrinking market for jetliners after the worst downturn in aviation history, Bloomberg reported.
The U.S. planemaker will pare output for wide-body jets such as the 787 Dreamliner and behemoth 777X, according to a company statement. Production of the 737 Max will resume gradually as key customers like Southwest Airlines shelve growth plans. With factory activity slowing, Boeing will reduce employment by 10%, or about 16,000 jobs.
The unprecedented collapse in air travel is forcing Boeing, once a prodigious cash generator, into a fight for its life. While rival Airbus is also consuming cash at an alarming rate, Boeing faces added financial strain and uncertainty because of its best-selling Max, which has been grounded for more than a year after two deadly crashes.
Air-cargo carriers experienced a "severe" capacity shortfall during the month of March, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Global demand for air cargo fell 15.2% in terms of cargo tonne kilometers (CTKs) in the month. At the same time, however, global capacity, measured in available CTKs, plunged by 22.7%.
IATA reported a doubling in demand for pharmaceutical shipments that are critical to battling the coronavirus pandemic. With most passenger planes grounded during the crisis, airlines are attempting to meet the demand for critical items through freighter services, some by way of converted passenger aircraft.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, cited "bureaucratic hurdles" in the form of "delays in getting charter permits issued, a lack of exemptions on COVID-19 testing for air cargo crew, and inadequate ground infrastructure to/from and within airport environments."
"The gap must be addressed quickly because vital supplies must get to where they are needed most," de Juniac said.
IATA said the collapsing global economy "is expected to further depress overall cargo volumes."
Twenty workers in U.S. meatpacking and food-processing plants have died and at least 6,500 have been directly impacted by the coronavirus, according to Bloomberg. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, said the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, America’s largest private-sector union.
“America’s meatpacking workers and our nation’s food supply are in greater danger every day that companies and leaders fail to act during this outbreak,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “It is clear that our food supply chain is threatened, and that is why our country’s elected and corporate leaders must act now.”
Closures at meat plants are leaving the U.S. reeling toward meat shortages at grocery stores. At least 22 meatpacking plants were shuttered at some point in the past two months, and these halts have resulted in more than 35,000 workers impacted and a 25% reduction in pork-slaughter capacity and 10% cut to beef, according to UFCW. That’s left farmers with nowhere to sell their livestock. Things are so dire the U.S. government is setting up a center partly to assist on “depopulation and disposal methods” for animals.
The union is urging the nation’s largest meat companies to strengthen plant safety and take action to protect front-line workers, including increased testing and access to protective equipment.
U.S. exports and imports of goods slumped in March to the lowest level in almost three years, Bloomberg reported.
Goods exports fell 6.7% from the prior month — the sharpest decline since 2008 — led by plunges in auto shipments and industrial supplies such as oil, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday. Imports fell by 2.4% on autos and consumer goods. Combined, U.S. exports and imports were the lowest since May 2017.
The report also showed retail inventories rose 0.9% from the prior month, reflecting unsold motor vehicles and parts. Wholesale inventories dropped 1% on a decline in nondurable goods, potentially reflecting consumers stocking up on food and other groceries.
Analysts typically look to these numbers to adjust estimates for economic growth during the quarter. Such adjustments might take a backseat at the moment to the bigger story of coronavirus lockdowns likely ending the record-long U.S. expansion in the first quarter and delivering a historic contraction in the second quarter.
The recent cancellation of sailings by trans-Pacific container lines could translate into reduced volumes moving through the Port of Oakland this summer, a port official said.
Some vessel calls that were scheduled at Oakland for May and June have been scrubbed, Business Development Manager Andrew Hwang told the Harbor Trucking Association. The result, he said, could be a drop of 5% to 15% in containerized cargo volumes heading into summer.
“It’s a clouded picture,” Hwang said. “About 10% of our scheduled vessel arrivals have been canceled by shipping lines, but we don’t know if that will translate into a similar drop in volume.”
Hwang cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the cancellations. Carriers' actions were in turn triggered by a drop in consumer spending, reducing the need for vessels operating between Asian manufacturing centers and the U.S.
While demand for agricultural exports through Oakland remain strong, voyage cancellations could place some markets beyond its reach, the port said.
Colorado and Nevada are joining California, Oregon and Washington in what is coming to be known as the Western States Pact, a bloc coordinating policies and strategies to combat the pandemic.
“There’s no silver bullet that will solve this pandemic until there is a cure so we must have a multifaceted and bold approach in order to slow the spread of the virus, to keep our people safe and help our economy rebound,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said in a news release.
As states try to develop testing-and-tracing capacities and set policy with little help from Washington, regional groups have formed in the Northeast, Midwest and South.
Tyson Foods has warned that “the food supply chain is breaking” — explaining that the closing of several meatpacking plants after coronavirus outbreaks will lead to “a serious food waste issue” as farmers won’t be able to send their livestock for processing, Chairman John Tyson wrote in a blog post.
Tyson has implemented several measures to keep operations going since January, including taking worker temperatures, supplying face masks, and adding daily deep-cleaning and sanitizing to facilities, according to the post. Even so, the company has had to close several plants, which will cause shortages of some of its products in stores.
“The government bodies at the national, state, county and city levels must unite in a comprehensive, thoughtful and productive way to allow our team members to work in safety without fear, panic or worry,” Tyson wrote. “The private and public sectors must come together.”
More than 42% of logistics professionals say they will change their supply-chain strategies in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by Shipping and Freight Resource. Another 29% are considering changes.
Over 300 respondents said they plan to invest in technology (67%), employees (33%), assets (26%), acquisitions (13%) and other aspects (12%) as part of their recovery efforts. Respondents represented shippers, carriers, freight forwarders, consultants and other logistics companies around the world.
Significant impacts have included volume decline (70%), transit delays (61%), port delays (50%) and lack of capacity (40%).
The U.K. Warehousing Association has set up an emergency register to help cargo owners secure warehouse space — which it’s asking companies to use before seeking government assistance with quay rents and other port charges.
“An appeal to government for financial assistance to keep freight at the port is not only futile, it’s unhelpful in terms of keeping supply chains flowing,” said Peter Ward, CEO of the UKWA, in a statement. “There is still warehousing space available, albeit only some 10% of potential capacity.”
Capacity in March dropped 8.1% below the previous month, Schneider said. A "sharp decline" in Class 8 truck orders put the number below the threshold for replacement, suggesting that overall capacity will continue to shrink.
Schneider also noted a "drastic" yearly decrease in outbound tender volumes across the U.S.
"We will watch volume closely to track if this is an indicator of a further decline in the market after it experienced a slight rebound over the last week," the company said.
Amazon is asking warehouse employees who have stayed away from work during the pandemic to return for scheduled shifts beginning May 1, or request a leave of absence, Bloomberg reported.
After the coronavirus began spreading through the U.S., Amazon offered unpaid time off without penalty for workers uncomfortable with coming in, along with $2-an-hour hazard pay for those who report for duty. The offers run through April.
In a blog post published Friday, Amazon said it would extend the raise through May 16 but made no mention of unlimited unpaid time off. Amazon said it was “providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover COVID-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures.”
The World Health Organization formed an international alliance to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are distributed fairly, Bloomberg reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are involved in the alliance.
“The world needs these tools and it needs them fast,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an online briefing. “In the past they have not been available to all. That cannot be allowed to happen again.”
The House of Representatives has passed a $484 billion relief bill for small businesses suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was 388-5.
The latest relief measure includes $321 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, with $60 billion dedicated to "underbanked" small businesses; $60 billion for the depleted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program; $75 billion for hospitals; and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. In addition, it requires President Trump to develop a strategy for aiding states in carrying out nationwide testing for the disease.
The action was considered to be an interim measure, following passage of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus law.
Freight interests expect a less-severe impact from the COVID-19 pandemic three months from now, according to the latest bi-weekly industry survey by Morgan Stanley Research. However, longer-term expectations have deteriorated, especially for carriers.
The firm's survey of approximately 400 carriers, shippers and brokers reveals continuing elevated levels of impact from the virus, "but signs continue to emerge that a recovery is in sight."
For the second time in a row, respondents' three-month outlook improved. Seventy-four percent said they expect a "medium" or "high" impact by the end of that period, versus 86% today. Morgan Stanley said the results "continue to suggest transportation constituents are looking for a quick-ish improvement in conditions."
The longer-term outlook turned more negative. Approximately 67% of overall respondents thought COVID-19's impact would be negative 12 months from now, versus 60% in the prior survey. Brokers and carriers represented the largest increase in negative responses. Their most commonly cited factors were lack of freight, supply chain-imbalances with deadhead miles, the logistical challenges of remote working, and the closure of some customers.
One hundred U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have tested positive for the coronavirus as the illness ravages the nation’s meat-processing plants, Bloomberg reported.
The workers are part of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed Thursday. The USDA is taking measures to supply masks to workers, though they currently may need to find them on their own.
Companies in Italy’s manufacturing, automotive and construction industries will be the first to restart activities, as the government on May 4 begins gradually lifting a nationwide lockdown, Bloomberg reported.
The companies will reopen “only if they guarantee social distancing and protection measures,” said Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri, who tested positive for the virus last month and has since recovered.
Italy’s government expects its budget deficit to spiral to 10.4% of gross domestic product this year as the economy, paralyzed by a nationwide lockdown, is seen shrinking by 8%. The government is set to request parliamentary approval for broadening the budget deficit by $59.4 billion to fund a new stimulus package.
Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines can significantly reduce capacity into the islands and remain in compliance with their service obligations under the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Transportation has ruled.
Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals was a factor in the DOT’s decision, PaxEXTRA reported, as both airlines offer service between Honolulu and the mainland.
The DOT has also agreed to exempt Delta’s seasonal services at seven airports that were not yet slated to operate for summer.
Since committing to hire more than 150,000 new associates last month, Walmart has announced plans to bring on an additional 50,000 by the end of May.
The retail giant has seen more than a million applicants — hiring an average of 5,000 people per day. The primarily temporary employees will work across Walmart’s stores, clubs, fulfillment and distribution centers, and delivery fleet, the company said in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn have shipowners caught in a "perfect storm," caused by rising insurance expense and plunging earnings, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.
Vessel operating costs are on the rise due to higher marine insurance premiums, "just when earnings are expected to come under pressure as trade contracts," Drewry said, adding that insurance can account for as much as 10% of shipowners' total costs.
Shipowners with a higher rate of claims are being hit the hardest by premium increases. Rather than impose a general rate increase, insurance providers have chosen to take selective action.
Drewry said it expects rate increases in marine insurance rates, along with a tightening of terms and deductibles, to continue for at least two more years.
"Vessel operating cost inflation is set to accelerate on higher marine insurance premiums, particularly for those owners with poor claims records, and the ongoing uncertainty around future trading conditions will only exacerbate underlying issues for owners," the firm said.
Tyson Foods is halting its largest pork plant, becoming the third major U.S. facility to shut as the coronavirus sickens workers, exacerbates livestock gluts and threatens supplies, Bloomberg reported.
The Waterloo facility in Iowa, which has been running at reduced levels due to worker absenteeism, will stop mid-week until further notice, Tyson said.
It’s the latest blow to the nation’s meatpacking industry that’s struggling to contain the disease among workers. JBS SA is shuttering its pork-processing facility in Minnesota, and Smithfield Foods Inc. closed a slaughter plant in South Dakota. Combined they make up about 15% of U.S. capacity.
Waterloo’s 2,800 team members will be invited to come to the plant for COVID-19 testing, results of which will help decide when the plant will reopen. The closure comes after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said 250 members of the National Guard were being activated to help address testing and contact tracing for meat-plant workers.
Oil tankers carrying enough crude to satisfy 20% of the world’s daily consumption are gathered off California’s coast with nowhere to go as fuel demand collapses, Bloomberg reported.
Almost three dozen ships — scattered in waters from Long Beach to the San Francisco Bay — are mostly acting as floating storage for oil that’s going unused as the coronavirus pandemic shutters businesses and takes drivers off the road. Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s refinery in Martinez, California, has been idled and others, including Chevron Corp.’s El Segundo refinery, have curtailed crude processing as the state orders residents to stay at home.
The more than 20 million barrels of crude is the highest volume of crude to ever float off the West Coast at one time, according to Paris-based Kpler SAS, which tracks tanker traffic. About three quarters of those tankers are holding oil in storage, meaning they have been floating steadily for seven days, also a record.
Storage has become increasingly scarce as a growing supply glut collides with collapsing fuel demand. As traditional tanks have filled, oil has been pushed onto tankers to float off Singapore, the U.S. Gulf Coast and, now, the U.S. West Coast.
The already-tight trucking market has dropped 20% in the last two weeks, with "double-digit" impact on freight activity in the second quarter of this year, according to ABI Research.
Consumer panic buying in response to the coronavirus pandemic has created huge demand for truck capacity to get goods to stores. “Rising costs, shrinking capacity, and panicked customers are shaking up the freight transportation and logistics markets,” said ABI Principal Analyst Susan Beardslee.
Other modes are suffering as well. The American Association of Port Authorities reported a 20% decline in port volumes, including cancelled or postponed sailings. Intermodal activity has dropped by 50%, and global air cargo volumes for the last month are expected to be down 9%.
ABI reported delays of more than six weeks for cargo shipments sourced from China. The lag is being felt all along supply chains, hitting factories in countries such as Vietnam and Mexico that rely on Chinese components to produce finished goods.
ABI predicts wide swings in capacity and pricing across transportation modes, "with the associated impact to shippers worldwide,” Beardslee said.
At least 300 Amazon warehouse workers across the U.S. will refuse to show up for work this week by calling in sick, The Guardian reported, marking the largest nationwide protest effort so far against the company’s coronavirus response.
Workers in more than 130 warehouses have contracted COVID-19, according to worker rights group United for Respect, with some warehouses reporting more than 30 confirmed cases.
Amazon has failed to provide enough face masks, did not implement regular temperature checks it promised at warehouses, and has refused to give paid sick leave, workers claim.
Protesting employees say they will continue to call in sick until Amazon makes safety-related changes at warehouses. The action comes as Amazon is set to announce what are expected to be record high quarterly earnings results.
3M Co., Honeywell International Inc. and a unit of Owens & Minor Inc. have received Pentagon contracts to make 39 million N95 face masks for medical workers under the Defense Production Act, Bloomberg reported. The companies will produce a total of 13 million masks a month for three months.
Under the contracts 3M will receive $76 million; Halyard, the Owens & Minor unit, will get $29 million; and Honeywell will receive $27.4 million.
“This will help ensure our government has the industrial capacity to meet the nation’s needs,” said Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer. “The objective is to eliminate reliance on the foreign supply chain.”
With the medical-grade masks seen as critical resources in short supply because of the pandemic, the Pentagon has already contributed 10 million of the face coverings from its own stockpiles.
China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co. has canceled an order for 29 Boeing Co. 737 Max planes, worth at least $2.9 billion, joining a growing list of customers scaling back plans for buying the grounded jet, Bloomberg reported.
Earlier this month, leasing firm Avolon Holdings Ltd. canceled an $8 billion deal for 75 jets, and General Electric Co.’s aircraft-leasing division followed that last week when it canceled an order worth at least $6.9 billion for 69 undelivered jets.
The coronavirus pandemic is adding to Boeing’s woes as it crushes travel and demand for planes. CEO Dave Calhoun has said the company will face a “new reality” in a market that could take years to recover.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a 90-day postponement of the payment of certain duties, tariffs and fees by importers experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. The action took effect on Monday, April 20.
The deferral does not apply to entries involving antidumping duty, countervailing duty, or fines imposed under Section 201, 232 or 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Eligible importers must show records documenting financial hardship, defined as a full or partial suspension of operations in March or April resulting from orders from a “competent governmental authority limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19,” with the result that gross receipts from March 13, 2020 onward are less than 60 percent of those from the comparable period of 2019.
The Bipartisan Policy Center today launched a task force to examine needed reforms to the provision of federal disaster assistance.
Among the task force's objectives are to offer technical expertise on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disaster relief and recovery programs, identify barriers to providing critical aid to communities, promote disaster-assistance reforms, and offer policy recommendations to enact them.
Members include former regulators and government representatives with emergency-management expertise at the state and federal levels.
"Our overtaxed disaster response system must be prepared for the inevitable next emergency," BPC president Jason Grumet said in a statement. "We must learn from past experiences and confront the bureaucratic obstacles that have slowed the provision of essential aid."
Amazon is struggling to meet an immense surge in order volumes and contend with worker absences, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. In response, the Seattle-based company is taking steps to suppress extraneous consumption.
The company has decided to cancel Mother’s Day and Father’s Day promotions typically visible on the site to encourage spending, said people familiar with the matter. Its annual July shopping extravaganza, Prime Day, has been pushed back indefinitely, and Amazon has scaled back coupons that encourage shoppers to fill their carts.
A majority of companies are expecting lower aggregate demand this year, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management. More than 80% of U.S. organizations have reported reduced revenue targets of up to 27 percent.
Among the exceptions were food and beverage companies, which expect revenue growth of about 9%.
Supply-chain disruptions have occurred globally to varying degrees, ISM says. By the end of March, “severe disruptions” were being reported in North America (9% for U.S. supply chains, 6% for elsewhere), Japan and Korea (by 17% of respondents for each), Europe (24%) and China (38%).
“We’re seeing further feedback that organizations who diversified their supplier base after experiencing tariff impacts, are potentially more equipped to address the effects of COVID-19 on their supply chains,” said ISM’s CEO Thomas Derry.
3M Co., the maker of the coveted N95 mask that drew criticism from President Trump over their availability, has filed four lawsuits against alleged price-gougers in New York, California, Texas and Florida, Bloomberg reported.
The firms were seeking to sell 3M respirator masks to the Strategic National Stockpile, New York City government and a California medical center at prices as much as six times the normal cost — while 3M said it has not increased its prices.
The company joins a number of states in going after firms trying to sell essential goods at inflated prices — threatening fines and jail time for anyone who jacks up prices beyond what the state has deemed appropriate. Several state attorneys general are working with online sales platforms like EBay, Amazon and Craigslist to shut down resellers who are charging obscenely high amounts.
That 3M has had to rely on trademark law to police the matter has also fueled calls for lawmakers to do something.
Seventy-four percent of U.S. finance leaders say they’re braced for “significant” impact on operations from COVID-19, according to global consulting network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Two weeks ago, that figure was 87% (of chief financial officers in the U.S. and Mexico).
Although impact visibility is improving, PwC says, the latest survey findings reflect CFOs’ unease, and businesses continue to target costs as revenue outlooks adjust. Twenty-six percent say their company expects layoffs over the next month — up from 16% two weeks ago.
Findings show labor supply constraints, too. Close to half (46%) of executives anticipate that a lack of remote work capabilities will lead to productivity loss.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a notification detailing exemptions to a temporary final rule banning the export of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the U.S. until August 10 of this year.
The ruling covers 10 categories of PPE shipments, including those to U.S. commonwealths and territories, Canada and Mexico, foreign charities, home countries of foreign embassies and consulates, and overseas U.S. military addresses.
On April 10, the agency published a temporary final rule "to allocate certain scarce or threatened materials for domestic use, so that these materials may not be exported from the United States without explicit approval by FEMA." The rule was issued under the authority of the Defense Production Act of 1950.
According to the Airforwarders Association, exporters seeking five of the exemptions must submit to FEMA a letter of attestation via the Document Imaging System (DIS) of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, certifying the purpose of the proposed shipment of covered materials.
The Port of Los Angeles expects total cargo volumes in 2020 to be "considerably lower" than last year, according to Executive Director Gene Seroka.
At the same time, Seroka said in a video message, labor shift counts at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach last week were up 20%, their highest level in nearly two months. “We also anticipate higher container volume in April as manufacturing in China normalizes and some U.S. businesses replenish their inventories," he said.
All marine terminals at the port remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. Seroka added that work on major port construction projects, including the Badger Avenue Bridge and LA Waterfront, "has not been impacted and will continue."
The volume of container shipments from China rose 64% in March compared with the previous month, bringing activity to within 94% of pre-COVID-19 levels, according to data from FourKites.
Container volumes from all of China were down 75% in February compared with the prior month, FourKites noted. The drop was even steeper for shipments out of Shanghai, which were down 78% and rebounded in March to within nearly 93% of activity prior to the emergence of the virus.
The result "substantiates the view that as incidence of new COVID cases declines, trade is rebounding nicely," FourKites Chief Technology Officer Vivek Vaid said in a statement.
The European Road Freight Market could shrink in value by as much 17% in 2020 if lockdown measures continue for the remainder of the year, according to Transportation Intelligence (Ti).
Sketching a "worst-case scenario," Ti said the coronavirus crisis could erase nearly one-fifth of the value of the region's road freight market.
The Big Five economies — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. — stand to lose the most if they remain closed for the rest of the year, suffering a combined 21.3% contraction.
If lockdown measures are eased, Ti projects a minimum decline in market value of 4.8%.
"The industry is coping well — both with sharp downturns as manufacturers and retailers shutter their operations, as well as with spikes in demand across certain sectors from healthcare & pharma to grocery retail — but the time is coming where logistics providers must switch their attention to the recovery ahead,” said Nick Bailey, Head of Research at Ti. “If predictions for the rest of the year play out and we see 6%-plus falls in GDP across the region, hauliers might be in an odd position of thinking themselves quite lucky to have escaped the worst of the economic impact of the crisis. Whatever happens over the remaining months of 2020 and beyond, this will be a deeply challenging time in the road freight market, and it will not emerge unscathed.”
U.S. meat prices are surging as slaughterhouses halt or slow output and buyers brace for more disruptions, Bloomberg reported.
Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork producer, indefinitely shut down a slaughter plant in South Dakota this week after hundreds of workers tested positive for COVID-19. The plant typically accounted for 4% to 5% of total hog processing in the U.S.
Two people who worked at a Tyson Foods pork plant in Iowa died and two dozen are ill, with operations down. Three people died who worked at a Tyson poultry plant in Georgia. A worker at a Cargill plant in Colorado also died. JBS USA delayed the reopening of a Pennsylvania beef plant from Thursday to Monday.
Wholesale pork jumped the most in more than two years Thursday, rising 7.2% to 55.86 cents a pound. Last week, pork prices fell to the lowest since 2009, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Choice-grade beef prices climbed six straight days through Thursday, rising to $2.36 a pound, a one-month high.
The U.K. has extended a government program that pays most of the wages of employees furloughed because of the coronavirus, averting potentially thousands of job losses, Bloomberg reported.
The three-month Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will now run until June 30, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said in an e-mailed statement. The extra month could add an extra 14 billion pounds ($17 billion) to the program’s expected cost of 42 billion pounds.
S&P Global Ratings has lowered its macro forecast of GDP trends for the remainder of 2020.
In a newly released report, S&P Global now predicts that global GDP will fall 2.4% this year, with the U.S. and eurozone contracting 5.2% and 7.3%, respectively.
"The economic impact of COVID-19 is longer and more intense than thought," the service explained. However, it expects global growth to rebound to 5.9% in 2021.
"While the very near term looks bleak, infection curves are flattening and the focus has turned to the recovery," said Paul Gruenwald, Global Chief Economist at S&P Global. "Its length and pace will depend on the combination of health and economic policy, the response of people and firms, and the condition of the labor market and small and medium enterprises."
"The balance of risks remains on the downside, as much can go wrong with our baseline path on the health, economic, and policy fronts," he added.
S&P Global outlined several "broad themes" that it expects to continue playing out in the coming months: that services will be hit harder than manufacturing, discretionary consumer spending will be hit harder than spending on necessities, and smaller business will be hit harder than larger ones.
Members of the nonprofit Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) have formed the Manufacturing Coalition, to coordinate the production and distribution of medical supplies for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The coalition represents 200 manufacturers in 30 states, who are retooling production lines to make products and supplies for fighting the COVID-19 virus, including N95 masks, disposable gloves, sanitizing gels and liquids, ventilators and ventilator housings, testing kits, and aluminum components for blood-analysis tools. They are switching over to production of those items in less than seven days, and plan to commence distribution "as needed at a fair cost," the group said.
YPO's global membership consists of more than 29,000 chief executives who have achieved "significant leadership success at a young age," the group said.
The new alliance said it aims to "combine the expertise and knowledge within the manufacturing members to support the public and private sectors in their efforts to mitigate against the COVID-19 spread, and assist essential workers who are in desperate need of PPE [personal protective equipment]."
Many of the nation’s largest farms are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell, The New York Times has reported.
Dairy Farmers of America estimates that farmers are dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day, and a single chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every week.
Even as retailers see spikes in food sales to Americans who are now eating nearly every meal at home, the increases are not enough to absorb all of the perishable food meant for restaurants, hotels, schools and other businesses. Many farmers say they have donated part of the surplus to food banks and Meals on Wheels programs, but there is only so much perishable food that charities with limited numbers of refrigerators and volunteers can absorb.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) will receive more than $1 billion under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has announced.
The funding will be used to offset loss of ticket revenue, which is used to pay Amtrak’s employees, buy fuel for its operations and construction materials for its projects, and otherwise maintain infrastructure, according to Homeland Security Today.
Amtrak has experienced an unprecedented decline of over 90% in ridership in recent weeks, and has pulled certain routes out of service.
Traffic speeds are rising and drivers may be getting more reckless in some U.S. states as stay-home orders keep cars and trucks off roads and streets, the Governors Highway Safety Association said in a statement.
In New York City, automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets on March 27, or nearly double the 12,672 of a month earlier. In Massachusetts, the fatality rate in crashes is up, and in Nevada and Rhode Island, state officials note pedestrian fatalities are rising, the group said. Police in Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska and Utah clocked highway speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
U.S. regulators are allowing hospitals to make their own versions of drugs that COVID-19 patients on ventilators need but that have become scarce, according to temporary guidelines issued Thursday. The FDA is permitting hospitals to make medications, including painkillers, sedatives and potent muscle relaxers.
Those drugs have fallen into shortage in the last few weeks as more patients need intensive care. The agency usually tries to boost supplies by increasing pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, some of which it has done.
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) has launched the ALAN Supply Chain Intelligence Center. The initiative provides a cloud-based, real-time view of the latest COVID-19 impacts through a map that includes the status of roads, ports and airports, as well as the policy changes at national, state, local and county levels.
ALAN is offering free access to the Center on the Riskpulse platform, a tool used by global companies and government entities to visualize and analyze supply chain risk. ALAN said it has has mobilized a team of volunteers who will update the dashboard daily from multiple government sources that share closure or waiver information.
“During disasters like this, few things are more important than accurate visibility to the situation on the ground," said ALAN executive director Kathy Fulton. "But getting that visibility often puts a huge burden on organizations at a time when they’re already overloaded. Now, rather than numerous entities across the country working overtime to collect and analyze the same critical pieces of information, this dashboard will serve as a single, unified source.”
Boston Scientific Corp. will start manufacturing a low-cost ventilator after the FDA granted the technology an emergency use authorization.
The medical-device maker’s partner, the University of Minnesota, said in a release that the Coventor device — conceived by university researchers and an alumnus — is a low-cost backup alternative for doctors.
Consumers bought an average of 33,400 vehicles a day last week, up 14% from a year ago, though sales were still down 12% for the first two weeks of April, the China Passenger Car Association said in a statement. The group said it’s unclear whether the increases will be sustainable.
Amazon threatened to stop activity at its fulfillment centers in France after a court order banned the sale of non-essential goods, concluding the retailer isn’t doing enough to protect staff from the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. The company was given 24 hours to comply with the ruling to reduce its activity to sell only essential items such as food and hygiene products, and to upgrade its health security procedures.
The company faces fines of 1 million euros ($1.1 million) for each day’s delay. Amazon said it was considering lodging an appeal, but such a move wouldn’t suspend the order that will be enforced on Wednesday.
Global oil demand will plunge by a record 9% this year due to coronavirus lockdowns, thwarting efforts by OPEC+ to contain the resulting glut of crude, Bloomberg reported.
A decade of demand growth will be wiped out in 2020, when consumption will slump by just over 9 million barrels a day, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly report. April will suffer the hardest hit, with fuel use contracting by almost a third to the lowest level since 1995.
The report predicts that an additional 75 million to 100 million square feet of industrial freezer and cooler space will be needed to meet demand generated by online grocery sales over the next five years.
"The COVID-19 pandemic will likely accelerate this need for space, creating five long-term impacts for the cold-storage sector," CBRE said. They include an increase in grocery purchases through e-commerce, consolidation of public refrigerated warehouse companies, more space being set aside for storage and fulfillment within retail footprints, a shift by restaurants from dine-in to more delivery and takeout, and a greater reliance on automation, "prompting higher-density, greater-height and smaller-footprint buildouts that will be required for around-the-clock operations."
“Until recently, consumers were not ordering a lot of perishables online, but that will likely change in a post-COVID-19 environment,” said Matthew Walaszek, associate director of industrial and logistics research for CBRE. “Now, we are seeing consumers trend toward buying foods online such as frozen meats and poultry. To meet this new demand, we will need more temperature-controlled space.”
The South Carolina Ports Authority is cutting back on expenses and some future projects, in line with projections of lower cargo volumes for the current year.
The authority has reduced its container outlook for fiscal year 2020, running from July, 2019 to June, 2020, to 1.345 million pier containers, compared with 1.364 million pier containers in fiscal 2019. Numbers for the roll-on/roll-off and cruise-ship sectors have yet to reflect the full impact of the economic downturn and are expected to exceed fiscal 2019 because of "strong performance" in the first nine months of fiscal 2020.
“It has become increasingly clear since the end of Chinese New Year that the COVID-19 manufacturing shutdown in China and the subsequent, significant shutdown of the consumer economies in the U.S. and the Western world means that we will not achieve our fiscal year 2020 volume plan,” said Jim Newsome, president and chief executive officer of the ports authority.
Steps taken by the authority to cut costs include the postponed implementation of Tideworks, a terminal operating system; deferral of a one-time crane move from Wando Welch Terminal to North Charleston Terminal; elimination of the temporary workforce; and reductions in overtime, business travel, and advertising and promotion. There will be no layoffs of full-time staff, the authority said.
Toymaker Little Tikes has begun producing personal protection equipment for doctors and patients in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the brand Lev Love, the company is making care-provider masks for doctors and ventilator masks for patients. It plans to donate the first batch of both types to hospitals around the country as part of Operation Pac-Man, a non-profit initiative launched by MGA Entertainment, the parent of Little Tikes.
The Lev Love Care Provider Mask is designed to be reused, and will provide protection for frontline care workers over extended periods of time, the company said. The Lev Love Ventilator Mask was created as "an interim first step" before patients require intubation, to assist them with their breathing.
Amazon says it will expand its hiring spree by an additional 75,000 workers as the online retailer shores up its logistics operation to meet demand from people hunkered down at home, Bloomberg reported. It already filled 100,000 temporary and full-time positions announced last month.
The hiring spree and a temporary $2-an-hour wage boost will likely cost more than $500 million, up from a prior estimate of $350 million, the company said.
Global logistics provider CMA CGM is offering a “delay in transit” service that allows customers to temporarily store their containers in a dedicated hub until the recipient is ready for them to arrive at the final destination, according to a statement. The service is part of a range of solutions to adapt and protect supply chains during the pandemic.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has told certain non-medical marijuana growers that they can now transfer their crops to the medical supply chain, according to Boston-based radio station WBUR. Recreational marijuana shops in the state are closed until May, while the number of people seeking medical marijuana cards has surged.
COVID-19’s strain on medical supply chains makes the policy shift necessary, CCC said.
The Smithfield Foods meat processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has closed for an indefinite period of time, after 293 workers there tested positive for the coronavirus.
The plant is one of the nation's largest pork-processing facilities, according to the New York Times. It reportedly employs some 3,700 workers and supplies between 4% and 5% of the country's pork.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Smithfield president and chief executive officer Kenneth M. Sullivan said in a statement. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”
Rong Li, assistant professor of supply chain management at Syracuse University, said it's likely that similar closures of manufacturing facilities will follow, "due to food safety concerns as well as a shortage of labor and management as more employees contract COVID-19."
The pandemic is forcing food processors to deal with safety issues that arise from their employees instead of the food itself, Li said. In the future, she added, "they need to think more about how to make their plants more automatic and easier to monitor and control remotely, to hedge against the risk of labor shortage.... This may be a lesson for all the manufacturing plants.”
FedEx is redeploying aircraft it mothballed earlier this year and plans to add 150 flights over the next month to ferry masks, protective suits and other health-care supplies to the U.S. from Asia, Bloomberg reported. The activity adds to the usual seven to nine daily flights across the Pacific.
The company also has increased U.S. domestic flights to meet higher package volume for the U.S. Postal Service as shut-in Americans buy more goods online.
WHO says 70 vaccines are in development. The furthest along in the clinical process is an experimental vaccine developed by Hong Kong-listed CanSino Biologics Inc. and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, which is in phase two, Bloomberg reported. The other two being tested in humans are treatments developed separately by U.S. drugmakers Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Big changes are coming in the movement of cargo between the U.S. and Mexico as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a freight forwarder and customs broker in that trade.
Laredo, Texas, the busiest crossing along the U.S.-Mexico border, experienced an immediate 15% reduction in traffic after March 20, according to Deepak Chhugani, founder and CEO of Nuvocargo. An even sharper drop in activity was seen at the Tijuana crossing, which handles a larger proportion of consumer travel.
Bigger changes are on the way, he said. “Already we are seeing Mexican carriers with extra capacity who are lowering prices to get their trucks moving. We expect that will become much more common. We are also seeing slowdowns in production capacity, even at essential businesses, due to social distancing mandates and businesses striving to keep their workers safe.”
Chhugani noted "very uncertain" demand for product as a result of consumers engaging in panic buying. Meanwhile, manufacturers and buyers are more carefully vetting transportation partners to confirm their financial stability.
The sudden glut of shipping capacity will cause a continued decline in rates, Chhugani predicted, adding that manufacturers "are increasingly offering buyers favorable terms for early payment."
The latest biweekly survey by Morgan Stanley of some 400 carriers, shippers and brokers suggests that transportation activities might be approaching a state of "peak disruption" in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
Eighty-three percent of respondents rate the current level of impact from the pandemic as "medium" or "high," compared with around 75% in the prior survey. "However, forward expectations suggest we are moving toward peak disruption and could be poised for a V-shape recovery (as we expect for freight transportation — even if the broader economy settles into a U- or L-shaped recovery)," Morgan Stanley said.
"One datapoint does not make a trend," the firm added, "but this update's results suggest we could be returning to a relative 'normal' sooner than some expect."
Looking ahead, around 74% of respondents said they expect disruptions to continue at "medium" or "high" levels, projecting a slight improvement in the transportation picture in the months ahead. At the same time, they anticipate the effects of the pandemic to linger over the next 12 months, indicating a continued bias toward a "somewhat negative” net impact.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved a new method of testing for the COVID-19 virus across the state of Ohio, developed by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Over a period of 24 hours, Ohio State researchers created an in-house “recipe” for making viral transport media (VTM), a sterile solution that is an essential part of COVID-19 testing kits. It consists of "a salt solution buffered in the way necessary to stabilize the virus," they said.
Health systems around the world are experiencing a critical shortage of test-kit components. Ohio State has created more than 100 liters of VTM, enough for up to 30,000 test kits, according to Peter J. Mohler, vice dean of research at The Ohio State College of Medicine.
In addition, the Wexner Medical Center, in collaboration with faculty and staff in the university’s colleges of Engineering and Dentistry, have created and 3D-printed more than 50,000 new swabs for COVID-19 test kits, to be shared with hospitals across Ohio.
The U.S. Postal Service has temporarily stopped accepting mail for certain international destinations as of April 10.
USPS said it will not accept mail for countries "where the foreign postal operator has indicated that they are unable to process or deliver international mail or services originating from the United States."
Until further notice, USPS is asking customers not to mail items addressed to Curaçao, Mauritius, Malawi and Nepal., among others In addition, it is temporarily suspending acceptance of mail to countries "where air and sea transportation is unavailable due to widespread cancellations and restrictions into the area." They include Burundi, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates, and Zambia.
In all, USPS has temporarily suspended international mail service to approximately 66 countries.
The latest service disruptions affect Priority Mail Express International, Priority Mail International, First-Class Mail International, First-Class Package International Service, International Priority Airmail, International Surface Air Lift, and M-Bag items.
Pfizer and BioNTech say they will jointly develop a vaccine for COVID-19, potentially supplying millions of doses by the end of 2020. The two companies plan to jointly conduct the first clinical trials as early as the end of April, assuming regulatory clearance, Bloomberg reported. Clinical trials for the vaccine candidates will initially be in the U.S. and Europe across multiple sites.
The number of people going hungry around the world could double in just a few months as the pandemic wreaks havoc on food supplies and hurts incomes, according to a group of major food companies, industry bodies and academics, Bloomberg reported. The number of those suffering from chronic hunger may surge from about 800 million.
London delayed the start of stricter pollution controls for trucks in the capital, because the pandemic has put too much pressure on supply chains. New minimum standards for freight are due to come into force in October with fines of as much as 550 pounds ($683) per day, Bloomberg reported.
Enforcement will be delayed for at least four months, Transport for London said. It’s already suspended other pollution and congestion charges for cars and vans, to ensure deliveries can take place and for key workers to travel.
The Bipartisan Policy Center is urging the federal government to take steps to improve the allocation of items needed to combat the COVID-19 virus.
There is a "critical need" for a gap analysis of existing supplies of medical and personal protective equipment, said BPC Chief Medical Adviser Anand Parekh and Senior Vice President Bill Hoagland.
"The federal government has the unique ability and visibility to ensure coordination, provide logistical support, and direct manufacturing of material and equipment, all of which are crucial in the response to this public health emergency," they said. Without a transparent analysis of supplies, "it’s very difficult to know whether voluntary private-sector commitments will be enough, and to what extent the Defense Production Act (DPA) should be invoked."
In addition, they recommended that the Administration clarify how it is allocating critical equipment based on estimates from states, the federal government, the private sector and modeling data. "Many healthcare providers continue to experience shortages of these essential items, so ensuring the allocation process is equitable and based on need is critical,” Parekh and Hoagland said.
Closures of various U.S. DMVs and CDL training facilities risk cutting off supply chains on a national level, the Commercial Vehicle Training Association has warned, urging states and the federal government to take action.
The trucking industry relies on new commercial drivers, and the closure of these agencies has halted the process of getting up to 40,000 new truck drivers trained, licensed and on the road, said Don Lefeve, president of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, in a statement.
The majority of states have closed their DMVs, while the remaining operate on a limited basis.
Pennsylvania is calling on companies that can “pivot or innovate” existing capabilities to help produce critical medical supplies and products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new website aims to match manufacturers and distributors to fill specific supply-chain needs to meet increasing demands, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The site will also assist manufacturers that have workforce needs or gaps and aid them in identifying skilled workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating an Amazon.com Inc. warehouse near Hazleton, Pennsylvania, following complaints from workers that the company is not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the facility, Bloomberg reported.
At the facility, called AVP1, workers receive products from manufacturers, many of them located overseas, break those shipments down, and route them on to dozens of Amazon warehouses for storage and shipment to customers. Amazon workers around the country have staged protests and walkouts to highlight their concerns about working conditions, including an inability to maintain social distancing guidelines, a lack of protective gear and hand sanitizer and lack of time to clean their hands.
New York City’s social-distancing strategy appears to be working, and one result is less demand for ventilators than had been projected, Bloomberg reported.
The city had estimated that it would need as many as 300 more of the life-saving machines this week to treat coronavirus patients but has needed to add only 100, Mayor de Blasio said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging a global and uniform approach to defining "essential" workers and functions that must continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chamber said the current lack of clarity on the issue at at both the state level and internationally "is impeding efforts to respond to this crisis."
“As more states issue their own ‘stay-at-home’ guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of clarity around what constitutes ‘critical’ and ‘essential’ business and workers, and the lack of uniformity in guidance hurts efforts to respond quickly,” said Christopher Roberti, the Chamber's Senior Vice President for Cyber, Intelligence, and Supply Chain Security Policy. “There is an urgent need for a uniform approach to identifying which workers and functions are deemed essential, and we urge states to follow a uniform model and provide guidance to state and local law enforcement, employers, and employees.”
The Chamber has worked with partners in the public and private sectors around the world to develop a set of International Principles for Safeguarding Essential Economic Functions in the COVID-19 Pandemic. The goal was "to provide a more consistent approach to identifying essential economic functions," the group said.
Small businesses across America were running on slender finances well before the coronavirus struck, Bloomberg reported.
“Only one in five healthy firms — and even fewer less-healthy firms — had sufficient cash reserves to continue normal operations if they experienced a two-month revenue loss,” the New York Fed said in a report.
Small businesses account for almost half of U.S. private-sector employees. Congress, to help shelter them from the blow of the pandemic, has authorized $349 billion in small business support under a $2.2 trillion virus rescue package it passed last month. But there have been glitches in the rollout of the aid, which promises to provide loans to small businesses to cover payroll, rent and utilities for up to eight weeks.
The survey found that any dip in revenue would quickly affect operations.
With oil storage tanks stuffed from Savannah to San Francisco, one company is proposing a novel solution for stowing your excess barrels of bitumen, asphalt and grease: Stick it in a bag.
OEC Group Liquid Logistics Solutions began advertising storage in 147-barrel polyethylene bags that are then tucked into 20-foot shipping containers, a combination known as flexitanks, Bloomberg reported. While straight crude and gasoline can’t be stored in the bags, industrial oils used for producing motor oils and grease can be.
Demand for the bags is up because base oils that once were shipped to Germany now need homes until the market turns again. Usually, the flexitanks store wine, food oils and ingredients for rubber tires.
The Food and Drug Administration is “facilitating imports of drugs to potentially treat COVID-19,” the regulatory agency said in a post on its website. The FDA said it is also working to protect Americans by monitoring the quality of drugs shipped to the U.S.
Forwarders are reporting concerns that shipments of medical supplies may not get through to their intended destination, as countries impound them en route for their own needs. The U.S. has been particularly busy on this front, according to various media reports — the Germans have accused it of “modern piracy,” The Loadstar reported.
Governments and states are now competing for medical equipment and personal protective gear with retailers and warehousing operators, too, as those industries struggle to provide adequate equipment for their staff. There are further difficulties in obtaining heavily in-demand medical goods following strict Chinese regulations on exports.
U.S. truck drivers have demanded “urgent and immediate action” to safeguard the nation’s supply chain, according to a letter addressed to President Trump from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
Many drivers don’t have access to protective equipment, testing or any practical solution if they need treatment or self-isolation, says the letter, signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer.
“We need a plan for them. We need help,” Spencer said.
California, which has yet to see its hospitals overrun by patients, plans to loan 500 state-owned ventilators to the national stockpile.
“We’re aggressively preparing for a surge — but we can’t turn our backs on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” Governor Newsom said in a statement.
With the New York area experiencing a supply shortage, other states are stepping in to assist. New York Governor Cuomo said this weekend that Oregon offered to send 140 ventilators to his state, Bloomberg reported.
German Chancellor Merkel’s government announced a new “limitless” aid program for small- and medium-sized companies. The program for loan guarantees is the latest measure introduced by the government, Bloomberg reported, which says Europe’s largest economy might contract even more this year than the 5% drop caused by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.
Nestle is struggling to keep up with consumers’ appetites as obstacles slow down production at the world’s largest food and beverage company, CEO Mark Schneider says. The maker of Pure Life bottled water and DiGiorno pizzas is seeing very strong demand for essential food and drink items, though many of its factories are unable to run at 100% capacity, Schneider said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
Tesla engineers showed footage of a prototype ventilator the company is trying to make with auto parts amid a shortage of the machines for coronavirus patients.
According to the video on Tesla’s YouTube channel, the design includes a touch screen, computer and control system from a Model 3 electric car. Tesla is taking advantage of components that are familiar, reliable and available, an engineer says.
New York Governor Cuomo, among those urgently trying to source more ventilators, said Sunday that supply-chain disruption is the biggest hurdle for every manufacturer — including Tesla, Bloomberg reported.
“Their time frame frankly doesn’t work for our immediate apex,“ he said at a press conference. “Nobody can make you a ventilator right now in two weeks. You can’t make ventilators that fast because there are parts that have to come from other countries.”
Apple Inc. is designing face shields for medical workers and separately has sourced over 20 million masks through its global supply chain, Bloomberg reported.
CEO Tim Cook made the announcement on Twitter, saying that its design, engineering, packaging and operations teams are working with suppliers to get the shield made and shipped.
The first shipment was delivered to a Santa Clara, California, hospital last week. The shields are fully adjustable and assemble in under two minutes, he said, adding that Apple plans to ship over a million this week and another million weekly after that.
Apple plans to quickly expand shipping of the shields beyond the U.S., the executive said. Apple has shuttered all 458 of its retail stores outside of China to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and is requiring its engineers and designers to work from home.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says there’s no evidence that any drug is in short supply because China or another country is blocking critical ingredients from flowing into the U.S. market, Bloomberg reported.
Some shortages may be evident because of spikes in demand for some medications, Hahn said in an interview with Fox News. The FDA maintains a public database of drug shortages, which can occur for many reasons including manufacturing problems, delays and discontinuations.
Hahn added that it’s critical the U.S. pharmaceutical industry rely on multiple countries to develop medical products such as drugs, ventilators and masks.
“We really need redundancy in the medical products supply chain,” he said. “We cannot be dependent upon any single country.”
India put a total ban on exports of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that President Trump has touted as a “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19.
Exports of the drug and its formulations have been prohibited “without any exceptions” and with immediate effect, Bloomberg reported. India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade last month restricted overseas shipments of the drug, allowing only limited exceptions such as on humanitarian grounds and for meeting prior commitments.
The new ban comes on a weekend when Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the global supply chain for drugs and other medical supplies with Trump, who has advocated the use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for people with COVID-19. Its efficacy against coronavirus infections remains unproven.
Approximately 10 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance in the two-week period ending March 29, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The net loss of jobs over that period is on a scale with two years of job losses in the Great Recession, between 2008 and 2010, EPI said in its Working Economics blog. What's more, it said, "New claims in each of the last two weeks dwarf any prior week in over 50 years of weekly data."
EPI's model projects another 4.7-5.7 million Americans filing new claims in the week ending April 3.
The job losses are occurring across all states, which are struggling to keep pace with the surge in demand for new unemployment claims. "And not everyone who loses work has tried to file for unemployment," EPI said. "So the true scale of labor income loss is undoubtedly larger than even these huge numbers show."
One in four small businesses are two months or less away from permanent closure due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife.
One in 10 of respondents are less than one month away from permanently going out of business, the poll reported. And 43% said they were three to six months away from permanently shutting down.
A total of 54% of all small businesses reported that they had closed or expect to close temporarily in the next 14 days. The poll was conducted between March 25 and 28.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult time for small business owners across the country," said Christel C. Slaughter, chief executive officer of SSA Consultants and chair of the U.S. Chamber's Small Business Council. "Many are facing significant disruptions, and as the data show many are on the brink of closure.
"While it is difficult to predict the future," Slaughter continued, "the CARES Act provides much-needed aid, and small business owners who can retain their core customers and top employees will be able to rebound more quickly.”
The International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) are calling for an immediate virtual meeting with finance and labor ministers from the G20 group of nations, "to improve coherence on economic relief efforts in response to COVID-19."
IOE and ITUC urged immediate implementation of the commitments set out by the G20 Leaders' Statement. The document declares the member nations' commitment "to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure adequate financing to contain the pandemic and protect people, especially the most vulnerable."
“Together with ITUC, we want rapid response programs that give businesses access to flexible and efficient low-cost short- and medium-term loans now," said IOE President Erol Kiresepi. "We also want immediate efforts put in place to minimize disruptions to trade and global supply chains while also protecting public health.”
“We, together with IOE, want employers and workers to be given access to paid sick leave, income support and social protection as a matter of priority," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "We want governments to support social security and extended temporary unemployment programs to make sure the most vulnerable do not slip through the cracks in this crisis."
Resilinc and Premier Inc. have launched a cloud-based platform for the healthcare industry, allowing hospitals to identify, locate and exchange critical medical items with vetted peer organizations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dubbed The Exchange at Resilinc, the new tool will launch in April in collaboration with Stanford Medicine. Hospitals and frontline healthcare providers facing supply shortages will be able to request specific items, and be matched with suppliers "through a safe, secure and trusted network," the parties said.
Donations of critical supplies are also welcome, and will be disbursed through an integrated donation center, they added.
Walmart has suspended operations at a South Bethlehem, Pa., distribution center until April 6 following worker safety complaints, according to lehighvalleylive.com.
Workers accused the retail giant of not taking adequate steps to protect them after at least nine tested positive for COVID-19, saying they are “packed like sardines” in a building that’s not being properly sanitized.
Walmart said it will divert orders to other fulfillment centers to meet customer demand during the closure.
General Electric is furloughing half of the U.S. manufacturing workers in its jet-engine business for four weeks, citing growing pressure on the global aviation industry.
The move, covering thousands of workers, comes 10 days after the division said it would lay off about 10% of its U.S. workforce, or about 2,500 employees, in one of the first major job cuts by a large American manufacturer, The Wall Street Journal reported. The aviation division is GE’s largest and most profitable.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed the National Guard to take unused ventilators and other equipment from clinics and private firms ahead of the apex of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.
Cuomo said he has exhausted all options to get supplies, and believes the federal government doesn’t have enough inventory to meet the needs. The number of people hospitalized from Covid-19 reached 14,810 on Friday, with 3,731 ICU patients who need ventilators.
People are “going to die” for lack of equipment, the governor said Friday at a press briefing.
The European Union let its member countries suspend import duties on medical equipment needed to fight the pandemic, Bloomberg reported. The European Commission approved requests by all EU governments to waive the bloc’s tariffs on goods such as masks, testing kits and ventilators.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service have created a Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force to address limited supply of critical protective and life-saving equipment across the country.
The task force’s primary effort is to source personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other critical resources requested by states, tribes and territories — and to support COVID-19 “hot spots” as they arise, says Homeland Security Today. The group is engaging manufacturers, distributors and healthcare networks “to build supply chain stabilization.”
Amazon.com said it has hired 80,000 people to help meet demand for online orders and has stepped up safety precautions at its U.S warehouses, Bloomberg reported.
Dave Clark, Amazon’s logistics chief, said in a blog on Thursday that Amazon would probably go “well beyond” its previous estimate of an additional $350 million in costs to support a growing workforce.
Boeing Co. has offered voluntary buyouts to eligible employees, in a bid to quickly shed costs and adjust its work force of 161,000 to a coronavirus crisis that’s undermined the outlook for aircraft sales, according to Bloomberg. Boeing is facing a sharp contraction in demand along with its European rival Airbus SE.
Airline customers around the world have slashed schedules, with some parking their entire fleets as the coronavirus pandemic guts travel. About 44% of aircraft across the globe are in storage.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he won’t delay Britain’s final parting with the European Union at the end of the year. Empty meeting rooms across Whitehall suggest delay is all but inevitable, Bloomberg reported.
Business lobbyists say government officials have canceled most meetings to prepare for Brexit as civil servants are pulled away to deal with the growing coronavirus pandemic. It’s now only a question of how Johnson will sell a delay to the British public, rather than whether or not one will happen, they say.
The U.S. Pharmacopeia is offering an online toolkit, containing guidelines from public health organizations to aid manufacturers and pharmacies in the compounding and preparation of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. USP said it developed the toolkit to help organizations meet the demand for product in a time of shortages of commercially manufactured sanitizers.
The toolkit includes important information from the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other public health organizations. It includes USP recommendations on formulations and alternative ingredients from its Compounding Expert Committee. The toolkit also contains relevant USP standards used for the preparation of hand sanitizers.
“Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others," said Jaap Venema, chief science officer for USP. "Hand sanitizers are critical in situations where soap and water are not readily available. This is particularly important for people who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health care professionals.”
FedEx will implement a temporary surcharge on all FedEx Express and TNT international parcel and freight shipments starting April 6, Memphis Business Journal reported. The delivery giant continues to operate in areas where state-of-emergency and shelter-in-place restrictions have been issued, and “this has disrupted the supply chain.”
FedEx Express International customers shipping from the U.S. will pay an extra 10 cents per pound. Those shipping from China and Asia-Pacific countries will see surcharges up to 45 cents per pound. TNT International Express customers will see the same.
TNT International Economy services, meanwhile, will see a 5-cent surcharge for deliveries to European countries.
The European Union announced a plan to discourage businesses in the countries worst hit by the coronavirus from firing workers as they struggle. Amid criticism that the EU has done too little to mitigate the economic impact, the European Commission signaled on Wednesday that it will use central funds to pay companies to keep workers in jobs, Bloomberg reported.
“It is intended to help Italy, Spain and all other countries that have been hard hit,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco are trying to devise a defense against the coronavirus from the tobacco leaf. BAT said it’s in pre-clinical testing of a plant-based vaccine via a U.S. biotech subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing, Bloomberg reported. Philip Morris has said its partially owned Canadian unit Medicago expects to start human trials for a potential vaccine this summer.
BAT’s Kentucky BioProcessing was involved in developing ZMapp, an Ebola drug, with Mapp Biopharmaceutical in 2014 — but that treatment never made it out of the lab.
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