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Containerized Shipping of U.S. Soybeans Spikes in Asian Countries

Containerized Shipping of U.S. Soybeans Spikes in Asian Countries

A recent report from the Illinois Soybean Association and the Federal Grain Inspection Service reveal containers shipping soybeans to Asian regions has spiked by 40 percent since 2014-2015.

Primarily led by Indonesian purchases, containerized shipping is experiencing an overall increase in demand for shipping U.S. soybeans to the specified region and shows no signs of slowing down. Additional information noted that container shipments of soybeans are expected to increase by 18 percent through August 31.

“Wider use of containers, thanks to the huge supply of empties in the Chicago area, has resulted in industry investments to increase the visibility and viability of this option,” said Eric Woodie, a trade analyst with the ISA checkoff program.

“There’s a major opportunity to take advantage of empty containers sitting idly in the U.S. and return them to export markets with soybeans. Not only does this help alleviate a significant problem in global trade, but it offers great value to international buyers, soybean exporters and Illinois farmers.”

Countries listed with the highest containerized soybean shipping include Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Indonesia is reported as the top buyer with a total of 1.4 million tons of soybean shipments. This method of shipping provides smaller companies the ability to minimize inventory investments while preventing lengthy delivery times, ultimately supporting added preservation.

Chiquita: Goodbye, Fyffes; Hello, Cutrale-Safra

Charlotte, NC – Shareholders of Chiquita Brands International have done an about-face in rejecting the global fruit producer’s proposed acquisition of Ireland-based rival Fyffes PLC.

The company has said it will, instead, enter into negotiations with Cutrale-Safra, a consortium made up of The Cutrale Group, a little-known Brazilian fruit wholesaler, and the Safra Group, a private investment company.

Since March, Chiquita remained focused on pursuing its planned acquisition of Fyffes for $526 million.

Chiquita-Fyffes merger would have expanded Chiquita’s reach deep into Europe, creating the largest banana-producer-distributor in the world with generating an estimated $4.6 billion in revenue annually.

In addition, the North Carolina-headquartered company would have had the opportunity to reincorporate in Ireland and gain significant tax considerations in a so-called ‘inversion’ transaction.

Now, instead of remaining a public company and reincorporating abroad, Chiquita will reportedly pay Fyffes a multimillion-dollar termination fee and be taken private.

The Cutrale-Safra group appeared relatively late after Chiquita had made its bid for Fyffes, offering an all-cash deal with no financing conditions, and closure of the deal within the calendar year.

Until now, Chiquita’s board had consistently rejected Cutrale-Safra’s bids as too low, including a recent bid of $14.50 a share, up from the previous $14.00 bid. The most recent bid by the Brazilians values Chiquita at around $680 million.

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, The Safra Group, with $200 billion in assets, operates the Safra National Bank of New York; Banco Safra in Brazil; Bank Jacob Safra in Switzerland; real estate and farmland on several continents; and a variety of other holdings.


Senator Slams US-Korea Free Trade Agreement

Washington, DC –The two-year-old US-Korea Free Trade Agreement hasn’t done enough to open the Asian country further to US exports, particularly American-made cars and trucks and agricultural products, according to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan).

Stabenow is the new Chair of the US Senate Finance Committee’s sub-committee on international trade.

Criticizing a trade deal that the Obama administration heralded in 2012, Stabenow cited the treaty as a reason for “caution” in negotiating the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership that, she said, stands no chance of being ratified this year as there are “some very sticky issues” involving Japan and other nations in the talks.

“We’re continuing to push and the reason for this hearing was to talk about Korea but also to send a message about Japan and what comes next,” Stabenow told the media at a press conference following her first sub-committee meeting.

The free trade pact, she said, “has fallen short of our hopes” while the US trade deficit with Korea “has increased by nearly 50 percent,” Stabenow said.

The agreement, she added, “aimed to open Korea’s markets to American automakers. But agreeing to phase-out tariffs on US-made automobiles hasn’t been enough. Due to non-tariff barriers, Korea remains one of the most closed auto markets in the world.”

Stabenow’s evaluation of the US-Korea trade pact were countered by the Office of the US Trade Representative which released a statement saying that through May, sales of ‘Big Three’-made autos to Korea are up by more than 20 percent and key agriculture products like dairy have seen a more than 40 percent increase in exports.

“These are real results that benefit farmers, workers, and small business owners across the US. We also fully expect that as further tariff elimination takes place and Korea’s economy improves, we will reap greater benefits from KORUS,” the statement said.

Since the Korea agreement took effect, tariffs have been reduced on US-made autos by 50 percent and the value of US auto exports to Korea have increased by 80 percent.

The Association of Global Automakers (AGA), the association representing major foreign automakers including Korean automakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors, noted that after the deal foreign automakers have started “exporting thousands of US-made vehicles to Korea” that are “supporting thousands of American jobs.”

Five years ago, 23 import brands together held just 6 percent of Korea’s automotive market, the group noted.

The AGA has released figures showing that Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co, Volkswagen and Nissan Motor Co. exported to Korea a total of 14,637 vehicles produced in the US in 2013. The group acknowledged that implementation “has not been seamless, and it is unrealistic to expect that an agreement of this magnitude and complexity could be implemented without encountering some challenges.”


‘Chlorine Chicken’ Stall US, EU Free Trade Talks

Washington, DC – The prospects of a free trade agreement that would generate $100 billion a year in economic growth for both the US and the European Union have stalled over Germany’s vocal concerns about the proposed pact’s perceived threats to food and the environment.

A transatlantic pact would open the European market to a broad range of US exports including agricultural products and create a market of 800 million people and allow EU members, particularly Germany, sell more of their luxury cars, precision machinery, transportation equipment and chemicals in the US.

Germany’s concerns focus on the standard US technique of disinfecting poultry with chlorine, which a majority of Germans recently surveyed believe is a danger to human health despite its successful use in the US to kill bacteria.

In the European Union, antibiotics are used with Brussels asserting that there will be no change in policy on the issue even should a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, become a reality.

Despite a flood of negative press, there are some in Germany who support the TTIP and counter the ‘conventional wisdom’ on the “chlorine chicken” issue.

“It is easier to win an argument with fear than with facts,” said one German businessman in the chemical industry, who supports the TTIP. “Chlorine chicken…genetically modified foods…these are out of the agreement, but it is hard to get the message across.”



US, Korea Sign ‘Organic’ Product Labeling Deal

Washington, DC – “Organic processed” products certified in the US or Korea can now be labeled as “organic” in either country, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The move, the FAS said, takes effect immediately and will allow American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea’s growing market for organic products.

Without the equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards, the agency said.

This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork, and delays for US farmers and businesses trying to export a variety of products including organic condiments, cereal, baby food, frozen meals, milk, and other processed products.

Similar to previous US equivalency arrangements with Canada, the European Union, and Japan, this arrangement with Korea eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic businesses.

This arrangement is Korea’s first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner and serves as an example of how closely the US is working with Korea to address emerging issues and strengthen the trade relationship.

Prior to the announcement of the new arrangement, US and Korean technical experts reportedly conducted several on-site audits to ensure that their programs’ regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.

According to US industry estimates, exports of organic processed products from the United States are valued at approximately $35 million annually.

Korea’s National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service and the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program—which oversee organic products in their respective countries—will oversee implementation of the new arrangement.

Both countries, the FAS said, “will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other’s programs periodically to ensure that the terms of the arrangement are being met.”