11. July 2011 16:42
Legislation and Litigation
- Bill S. 1233 introduced by Sen. Debbie Ann Stabenow (D-MI) would provide tax credits of half the cost of certain safety systems for commercial vehicles. Systems include brake-stroke monitoring systems, lane departure warning system, collision warning system and vehicle stability systems. The House has introduced a companion bill, H.R. 1706.
- Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) has introduced H.R. 2357, referred to as the Fighting Fraud in Transportation Act of 2011 or the "anti-fraud bill." The bill is an attempt to increase the bond required that transportation brokers provide from the present $10,000 to $100,000. Much opposition is anticipated in view of the number of small brokers in operation, some of them with $0 assets.
- Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has called upon the federal government to pass a national plan against the refusal of online businesses to collect state sales taxes. He asked that the provisions passed by some states to force collection of the sales tax be revoked and a nationwide provision be passed by Congress. This was brought to a conclusion when Amazon.com stated that it would not open the facility under construction in Tennessee.
- Bank of America faces a suit by homeowners who claim that mortgage loan modifications were not provided to them, even though they were qualified under a federal program to avoid foreclosure. A US District Judge in Massachusetts refused the bank's motion to dismiss the complaint, stating that the bank "willfully failed" to modify the loans. The lawsuit combines 26 cases in 19 states.
Manufacturing: Rare Earth Minerals
- Constraints on rare earth minerals have resulted in the WTO's agreement with the US stance that such actions by the Chinese were inconsistent with China's WTO obligations to the rest of the world. The restriction that China placed on the rare earth minerals could have a seriously negative impact on prices for production of goods requiring minerals. Rare earth minerals are used in the manufacture of electronics, with Japan using the major portion.
- Japanese scientists have reported the discovery of an enormous amount of rare earth at the bottom of the Pacific. With China controlling 95% of the world's deposits, this could be an important discovery. The latest discovery is in international waters from Tahiti at depths between 3,500 and 6,000 meters. The contents are said to be almost as large as deposits in China, Russia and the US.
Trade and Transport
- Exports have grown to support an estimated 9.2 million jobs in 2010, up from 8.7 million in 2009. Every $1 billion of exports supports over 5,000 jobs.
- Malaysia has joined other Asian countries for high risk of cargo theft. Located along an important trade route, the country has become a major thoroughfare. Because of the congestion at nearby Singapore, one of the world's busiest ports, Malaysia is on routes to Southeast Asia.
- Some companies are said to hire armed guards to protect their trucks in Malaysia. There is reported to be a syndicate in the country, according to the president of the Federation of Malaysia Freight Forwarders. In recent years, there has been a group of bandits that focuses on trucks that haul electronics. Security measures have reduced incidents, but the extent is not known due to the reluctance of companies to release accurate information. As in the US, the theft rings could be receiving information from some company workers.
- APL has purchased a 43-acre plot of land near the BNSF and UP terminals at Joliet IL. When completed by Dec 2011, it will be carrier's largest container terminal in the US. Located near BNSF and UPRR intermodals, it is also near an area of customer warehouses and distribution centers. The advantageously located facilities will replace an existing APL terminal in Chicago.
Images by Michael Hodge and USDAgov