Trump’s new USMCA trade deal looks a lot like NAFTA. Here are key differences between them.

USMCA Trade

President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced a deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that will bring it to a vote in Congress and remove the last barrier to enact the trade pact. The Wall Street Journal reports the vote will be held next week.

The agreement between congressional Democrats and the White House comes after rounds of negotiations that stretched for more than two years between US, Mexican, and Canadian officials. Their intention to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA - the trade deal regulating international business around North America for over a quarter-century.

Trump tweeted early Tuesday morning and championed Democratic support for the deal, calling it a win-win for everyone in the United States.

"It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions - tremendous support," Trump said. "Importantly, we will finally end our Country's worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!"

It was held up in the US as Democrats, particularly progressives, demanded tougher labor and environmental protections and stronger enforcement provisions. They were able to lock in those additional rules sought in the emerging deal.

The three leaders - President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto - signed the agreement late last year but final revisions must also be approved by each country's legislature and leadership before it comes into effect. Mexico ratified the agreement in June and Canada is on its way to doing so.

Congress is expected to pass the agreement with bipartisan support, giving the president a major trade victory as he attempts to fight off Democratic-led impeachment proceedings and campaign for reelection.

Trump and other US officials have long called NAFTA dead, saying the USMCA is a wholesale overhaul of the agreement. Despite Trump's declaration, the USMCA still maintains large swaths of the original deal and is more of an update to the existing deal than a full-on rewrite. But there are some key differences.

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Port San Antonio OKs Pact to Develop Innovation Center

Port San Antonio, TX

Port San Antonio's board of directors on Wednesday took the first steps toward building a new facility that leaders of the sprawling industrial campus in South San Antonio hope will make it a destination for sports enthusiasts, science education, and innovation.

The board voted unanimously at its monthly meeting to contract American Triple I Partners, a local development firm chaired by former Mayor Henry Cisneros, to lead the design and construction management efforts for an innovation center to be constructed on the 1,900-acre Port San Antonio campus.

The Port's leadership plans for the center to host esports tournaments, conferences, concerts, and other events. In addition, it will serve as the home of the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, or SAMSAT, which houses artifacts and gadgets from the technological past, as well as showcase technology built by Port tenants.

Co-working space and a makerspace, for building devices and working on other projects, will serve both early-stage entrepreneurs and students on the innovation center grounds.

The center will also procure food and beverage vendors.

"We want this facility to represent not just what the Port is today, but what the Port is striving to be and what San Antonio is striving to be – a truly first-class facility," said Jim Perschbach, the Port's president and CEO.

The draw of the gaming community is expected to be the main revenue driver at the facility. Perschbach cited market research that predicts esports will trump the income potential of all sports except the NFL. The global esports market is expected to reach $3 billion by 2025, according to recent analysis.

In early 2018, Perschbach took the reins of the Port, a public entity created in the wake of the 2001 closure of Kelly Air Force base, with the charge from board members to pursue a vision that reimagined the Port as a high-technology hub to complement its traditional tenants in the manufacturing, logistics, aviation, and defense sectors.

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Chick-fil-A and Starbucks Distributor to Move California Headquarters to Texas

Distributor to Move California Headquarters to Texas

A distributor to move its corporate headquarters to Texas from California to centralize its operations. The organization is a distributor to major restaurant chains such as Chick-fil-A, Chipotle and Starbucks.

Quality Custom Distribution is a part of Golden State Foods, and a global supplier to the quick-service restaurant and retail industries. The organization is leasing 10,784 square feet of office space at 2801 Network Blvd. in Frisco, Texas. Frisco is 27 miles north of downtown Dallas, for its headquarters. It sets the new office to open in January 2020.

The company expects some employees to move from California to Texas with the corporate headquarters. Also, they have plans to "provide a variety of new jobs," at the Dallas-area office.

The company has already begun posting job openings in Frisco, which include finance, accounting, customer service and purchasing positions. Quality Custom Distribution has 17 active job postings on online job websites. Officials were not immediately available to comment beyond a statement.

The move from Irvine, California, helps centralize the company's corporate operations. It better aligns and supports its distribution center market and its customers, said Ryan Hammer, corporate vice president and president of Golden State Foods Logistics.

The distributor to move from California Headquarters to Texas will grow its distribution network and secure its position as a main player in the food industry. The Dallas-area's central location, large talent pool, and business-friendly community fed into the decision to move to the North Texas region said, Hammer.

The company's distribution network includes two centers in Texas, one in the Dallas area and another in San Antonio. The Dallas-area location sits in Lancaster at 3900 N. Dallas Ave., which is 14 miles south of downtown Dallas. According to CoStar data, Quality Custom Distribution leases about 55,000 square feet of industrial space in the building.

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Ventus Global Logistics is strategically located in Laredo, Texas and specializes in land, air, and ocean freight. Ventus Global Logistics maintains a brokerage presence in all of Mexico's main customs offices. Get comprehensive data on your material inventory whenever you need it thanks to our web portal. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Warehouse or store? Picking the wrong place to unpack can cost you

warehouse or store

Retailers can see "considerable savings" if they unpack case packs (packages shipped by the supplier) into the individual consumer units at a distribution center before shipping the product to the final store, according to a 2017 paper published in the European Journal of Operations Research that focused on grocery retailers in the Netherlands and Germany. The amount of savings will vary depending on the SKU, and they are even greater if a model is used to determine the "optimal solution" for a given retailer.

The paper examined two different scenarios for a given SKU:

  1. Stores are sent case packs of the SKU and unload them onsite.
  2. Store are sent a custom number of consumer-level packaging units based on their inventory needs.

The researchers developed a model to determine the best unpacking location for a given SKU. This was then tested in a "hypothetical environment" that used data from a European retailer (referred to as Delta in the study), information on its current operations practice and cost data from a second retailer. When the researchers tested their model in the hypothetical environment, they found a 5.3% drop in the overall cost when the retailer moved from its current operating model to what the paper referred to as the "optimal solution."

The optimal solution in this paper was a model in which all stores follow the same unpacking method for a given product (either delivering case packs to the store or unpacking it into consumer units at the distribution center) depending on what is the lowest cost for all stores. Retailers must determine the lowest cost option for each product.

Marginally more cost savings were seen if each store used the unpacking method that reduced its individual cost (as opposed to the cost to the entire retailer) but this can be especially hard to put in place at the distribution center level, Rob Broekmeulen, the paper's author and assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology, told Supply Chain Dive in an interview.

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As fleets adopt technology, the public remains skeptical of safety focus

freight technology

Commercial drivers are among the safest drivers on the roadways, but based on general public perception, and anti-trucking safety groups that highlight the number of yearly incidents involving big rigs, it would be difficult to tell that.

According to data within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), there were 164,529 large trucks involved in crashes in 2018, with 79,879 injuries and 4,708 deaths reported. Those numbers were comparable to 2017's figures, with 154,634 crashes, 75,985 injuries and 4,858 deaths.

In 2013, the American Trucking Associations released results of a research project conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. That study looked at 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes and found that in 81% of the incidents, the car driver was assigned fault, versus just 27% of truck drivers to which fault was assigned. Similarly, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified 10,092 fatal car-truck accidents and assigned blame to the car driver 91% of the time in head-on crashes. It also found that 71% of the time the car driver was responsible for rear-end crashes.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) said that commercial trucks traveled over 9.4 billion miles in 2017. While the numbers can be significant, when putting them in context based on the number of miles traveled and compared to automotive-only numbers, a different story emerges.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 0.94 passenger car occupants were killed in 2017 per 100 million truck miles traveled. Conversely, 1.16 people were killed per 100 million miles traveled overall in 2017. Statistically speaking, fewer people die in truck-car crashes than in car crashes alone.

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Experts say Nuevo Laredo should focus on becoming a logistics and foreign trade hub

Laredo Texas

The Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo should "bet more on logistics and foreign trade" than on attracting more maquiladoras, according to trade experts.

"Nuevo Laredo no longer needs to invest in maquiladoras, because it is a city more oriented towards customs and services," said Cirila Quintero, a professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (College of the Northern Border) in Tijuana, Mexico.

The college is a prestigious Mexican institute specializing in teaching and research on border issues. Quintero specializes in the research of Mexico's maquiladora industry.

Quintero was part of a recent study conducted by the Mexico City-based Economic Information Bank (BIE), which indicated in recent years the number of export maquiladoras in Nuevo Laredo has decreased.

Quintero said one reason not to rely too heavily on maquiladoras for economic growth in the future is changing technology.

"I think that if local governments want to bet on the maquiladoras, they should understand that the maquiladoras have already changed and are something else," Quintero said in an interview with Primerahora.com.

Quintero added, "the only ones [maquiladoras] that are going to exist are the ones that are going to export, and many of those are going to be robotized, and the point is that if you want to invest in maquiladoras, you should no longer see them at the local level, but in the case of Nuevo Laredo you have to see Laredo, Texas, and see which sectors in Laredo are developing the most."

Nuevo Laredo – located directly across the U.S.-Mexico border from Laredo, Texas – has 35 maquiladoras that employed 29,878 workers, according to the BIE study. In contrast, in the Mexican cities of Reynosa and Matamoros, maquiladoras are still trending upward.

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Ventus Global Logistics is strategically located in Laredo, Texas and specializes in land, air, and ocean freight. Ventus Global Logistics maintains a brokerage presence in all of Mexico's main customs offices. Get comprehensive data on your material inventory whenever you need it thanks to our web portal. Contact us today for a free consultation.

What US companies should know about expanding manufacturing to Mexico

manufacturing in Mexico

As of 2019, Mexico is the largest goods trading partner with the U.S. with over $600 billion in imported and exported goods. This relationship has created 1.2 million jobs as of 2015, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Commerce. It's also been reported, as of February 2019, that U.S. trade with Mexico increased 3.36%, while trade with Canada decreased by 4.12% and with China by 13.52%. This illustrates the direct impact of the current administration's trade war with China in particular, which ultimately has had negative repercussions for the U.S.

Generally speaking, products manufactured in Mexico are high-mix, low-volume, such as automotive and aerospace parts. This level of product is more expensive to move from China to North America when compared to shipping from Mexico. They also require more engineering skills than many products manufactured in China, which trend toward low-mix, high-volume, such as sunglasses or clothing.

As a result of Mexico's cost-effectiveness, global companies with a stake in the North American market, including Nestle and the BMW Group, have increased investments in their Mexican factories in recent months. In 2014, Nestle planned a $1 billion investment over five years to build and expand three of its factories in Mexico. And earlier this year, the BMW Group announced its new automotive plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico as a boost to their "regional production flexibility in the Americas."

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Borderlands: CBP opens new fastlane at Laredo’s World Trade Bridge

World Trade Bridge

On August 5, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of the World Trade Bridge's new Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lane.

The new $10 million paved lane is for northbound FAST empty tractor-trailers to run directly from the bridge, and will decrease wait times at cargo facilities. The FAST program allows expedited processing of trucks owned by commercial carriers that have completed background checks and fulfill certain eligibility requirements.

"The World Trade Bridge processes on average 16,000 trucks daily, carrying goods valued at more than $300 billion annually," said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). "The creation of this FAST Lane will streamline trade and promote economic growth in the region."

Around 500 empty trailers will be processed daily and the hours of operation for FAST Lane will be Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

"These improvements serve as vital assets to not only Laredo, but the entire United States economy," said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz.
CBP officials estimate they process around 8,000 northbound truckloads daily at the World Trade Bridge facility.

"The ever-growing traffic volumes have far exceeded the limits of the present facilities and we will work hand in glove with our stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels to assist with improvements that will facilitate traffic at the busiest cargo facility in the southwest border," said David P. Higgerson, director of field operations at the CBP Laredo Field Office.

There were 195,918 commercial vehicle crossings at the World Trade Bridge in June, representing a 0.7 percent increase from the same time last year, according to the latest data from the city of Laredo.

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Mexican officials: wait times at Otay Mesa Port of Entry up to five hours

Delay Times at Port of Entry

Truck wait times on the Mexican side of the Otay Mesa port of entry have jumped as the inspection process lengthens, leaving trucks backed up for hours, said officials in Mexico.

"Both Mexican and American customs are spending more time reviewing the trucks – with wait times between four and four and one-half hours," said Salvador Díaz González, president of the Tijuana-based Industrial Association of Otay Mesa (AIMO).
The long lines for the commercial crossing checkpoint in Otay affects not only the companies and transporters, but also the people who [travel] through the area, since the [trucks] massing invade the surrounding roads, Díaz said in an August 14 report in elimparcial.com.

Carrier wait times in the whole Otay Mesa/Tijuana/San Diego market have been trending up since June 1 – up 30 percent to 133 minutes average per load/unload event per month.

The average wait time for commercial trucks in the market is 126 mins over the last year. This information comes from the FreightWaves SONAR platform.

While traffic may be affected in Tijuana, wait times are not affecting the U.S. side of the border. Wait times are hovering around 40 minutes, as of noon August 14, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

With the FreightWaves SONAR Van Inbound Tender Rejection Index (VITRI.SAN) at 1.81 percent and dropping, carriers are still willing to accept loads into the Otay Mesa/San Diego market. SONAR's Van Outbound Tender Rejection Rate (VOTRI.SAN) is also around 1.81 percent, meaning there are no capacity issues in the market.

Díaz said he understands why officials have been stricter with inspections, but the negative effects are causing lower carrier productivity, more air pollution in the Tijuana area and traffic jams that affect others who drive in the area.

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U.S. Senators introduce $287 billion highway bill

$287 billion highway bill

A $287 billion highway bill proposal reauthorizing funding to maintain and repair the country's roads and bridges includes a first-ever title addressing carbon emissions and supporting electric vehicle infrastructure.

The legislation, a five-year reauthorization of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to be called America's Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, was introduced on July 29 by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. The proposed funding for federal-aid highway programs is a 27 percent increase from the $226 billion authorized in the current legislation, which expires in October 2020.

"The [EPW proposal] is the most substantial highway infrastructure bill in history," said the committee's chairman, John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). "The bill cuts Washington red tape, so road construction can get done faster, better, cheaper and smarter. It will help create jobs and support our strong, growing and healthy economy. Infrastructure is critical to our country and we should responsibly pay for this legislation."

Tom Carper (D-Delaware), the committee's ranking member, said addressing air pollution in a highway bill will help move the country "toward a safer, more connected, efficient and climate-friendly transportation system" to keep up with the global economy.

"We're just getting started, but I look forward to moving this bill out of committee this week and the work ahead of us to get it across the finish line." The bill must be paired with a version from the U.S. House of Representatives that is not expected to be introduced until the fall of this year, at the earliest.

The Senate legislation increases funding for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program for freight projects to $5.5. billion, a 22 percent increase from the $4.5 billion authorized in the FAST Act. It increases the minimum amount of INFRA funds to go towards smaller projects from 10 to 15 percent, and sets aside $150 million per year for a pilot program that prioritizes projects offering a higher non-federal match. It would also create new transparency requirements for administering the grants.

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