What We Learned This Week - Global Trade Magazine
  January 23rd, 2015 | Written by

What We Learned This Week

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HOLD OFF ON THE HUMVEE … Oil prices surged Friday following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. It was the king who’d maintained Saudi Arabia’s oil output even with a global supply glut that sent crude prices to a six-year low. Just a day after Abdullah’s death was announced, crude prices had risen almost 2 percent amid the uncertainty, and stability may not necessarily be around the corner since the new king, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, is 79, in poor health and rumored to suffer from dementia. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holdings, while admitting that the days of the $100 barrel are over but that it’s realistic to think about a $70 barrel, said current prices, which are around $50, could actually go lower for a while. So, you know, you might just think about leasing that Hummer …

TPP JUST KEEPS GETTING FREAKIER Okay, so first it was weird to witness the Obama White House take up the cause of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that was first pushed by the Bush White House in 2005. It got weirder when the biggest obstacle to the agreement turned out to be folks in Obama’s own party. The whole thing took on a flashback quality to the days of NAFTA when Bill Clinton fought Democratic opposition to that trade agreement with the help of rival Republicans giving the whole affair an air reminiscent of those days when Batman would partner with the Joker and/or Penguin to fight an even greater threat to humanity (we’ll leave it to you, and your party affiliation, which party was Batman.) It got even weirder-er after Obama’s State of the Union when Republicans panned everything in the speech but the part about pushing the TPP and Democrats said the exact opposite. And, just when you thought you had the players figured out in this game comes word that there is bipartisan support to include language in the TPP to stop other countries from manipulating currencies at the expense of U.S. manufacturers. While such a provision could garner more support here for the TPP it could also torpedo it overseas. Hmmmm, seems every question just brings with it another question. For instance, what is this “bipartisan” thing?

ORANGE YOU GLAD? NO … While there is plenty of pain to go around for businesses caught in the labor dispute, now in its sixth month, that has brought the flow of products at most West Coast ports to a trickle, the hurt is probably most intense for agricultural growers. While any business suffers from its stuff just sitting around, growers, whose average delivery time has doubled from 20 to about 40 days, have the added problem of theirs spoiling while it sits. In fact, delays are taking a huge toll on California citrus exporters whose products, especially navel oranges, are hugely popular in China during its New Year’s celebration. Chinese New Year is less than a month away, February 19, with no end in sight to the port slowdown, giving growers a bit of Auld Lang-xiety …