Donald Trump has now been President for a full week. And it’s been a busy week for him. Trump has acted or made his intent to act on a number of important issues (some of which are highlighted below), including the affordable care act, immigration, the Supreme Court, regulations, infrastructure projects, voting rights, the TPP, energy production, and more. Talk about jumping right into things. I’d like to say that my week has been very busy too, but compared to his, mine looks pretty low-key.
And now, on to the news.
- Donald Trump in the news
- Amazon has entered the trillion-dollar ocean freight business
- Scania and Toyota start Singapore truck platooning trial
- Rolling delivery robots coming to Virginia
- Walmart adding jobs for grocery pick-up
- Rick Scott not happy about Florida ports getting legal cargo from Cuba
Earlier this week, Donald Trump officially withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Ultimately, everyone knew this move was coming, as both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton opposed the deal, and vowed not to enter the US into the 12 nation agreement. While Japan formally ratified the agreement shortly before Trump’s inauguration, it was merely ceremonial, as without the US and Japan’s official ratification, the TPP can’t enter into force. The goal of the TPP was to create more trade competition for China. The other 11 nations may try to renegotiate the agreement and keep it alive; there are even rumblings that China may be a replacement for the US, but nothing has been substantiated on that front.
Speaking of Donald Trump, the President has vowed “big border taxes” for US manufacturers that ship jobs abroad. At a meeting with executives from the “Big Three” US automakers, Trump indicated he would make it easier for them to invest in the country. Namely, he plans to reduce taxes and regulations to keep manufacturing jobs in the US. At the same time, he is planning on adding heavy taxes to US companies that ship manufacturing abroad as part of cost savings efforts in their supply chains.
“A company that wants to fire all of its people in the United States, and build some factory someplace else, and then thinks that that product is going to just flow across the border into the United States — that’s not going to happen. They’re going to have a tax to pay, a border tax, substantial border tax.”
Amazon is moving into the ocean freight business. The online retail giant has already rolled out its own fleet of private trucks, invested in drone deliveries, and started leasing cargo planes to move merchandise around the country. Now, Amazon is taking greater control over shipments from China. Specifically, Amazon has started handling the shipment of goods from Chinese retailers that sell on its platform. While the company has not bought any ships (yet), it has started reserving space on ships and acting as a global freight operator and logistics organizer. This puts in direct competition with the likes of FedEx and UPS. So far, Amazon has helped ship 150 containers from China to the US. Are Amazon branded cargo ships on the horizon?
Autonomous trucks have received a lot of attention in the recent past, and things are just getting started. VW subsidiary Scania and Toyota are to conduct the first full-scale autonomous truck platooning operations in Singapore, in what has been described as the largest pilot project of its kind. The pilot is scheduled over a three-year period, and will feature three autonomous trucks following a lead manned truck on public roads. The four trucks will move containers between port terminals with automated docking and unloading of cargo. The pilot will take part in two phases. The first phase will look at the designing and testing the feasibility of using platooned trucks on local roads. The second phase will consist of actual trials using the trucks.
European robot delivery company Starship Technologies could soon be coming to Virginia. State lawmakers are pushing to have the small delivery robots join two other US cities, and cities across Europe, in making home deliveries. However, Virginia would be the first state with a law governing such robots. The robots are about the size of a large cooler, and are designed to carry goods within a 2- to 3-mile radius. They can hold up to 22 pounds, or about three shopping bags’ worth of goods. Recipients can unlock them with a smartphone app. The robots could rid the streets of delivery vans, cutting down on emissions. Additionally, the company says the robots could also get groceries to homebound people at a fraction of the cost of current delivery services and help expand access to healthy groceries.
Walmart plans to add 10,000 retail jobs in the US as it opens new stores and expands on current stores. The plan will also create an estimated 24,000 construction jobs. A big part of the retailer’s hiring plans center on grocery pick-up. With online grocery becoming big business, Walmart is building out its e-commerce capabilities. This includes rolling out grocery pick-up to more locations, and making sure these locations can accommodate the increased demand. The jobs will come from the opening of 59 new, expanded, and relocated Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations as well as e-commerce services that were previously announced. Even with these new hires, the retailer is looking to scale back some operations, as it is trimming jobs at headquarters and closing stores across the country.
And finally, now that the US has normalized relations with Cuba, the first legal cargo from Cuba – artisanal charcoal -in more than half a century arrived in Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on Tuesday. And while many people were happy to see trade possibilities with Cuba, Florida Governor Rick Scott is not one of them. On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned those ports, which include the Port of Palm Beach and Port Tampa Bay, that he will push to cut state funding to their operations if they engage in business with Cuba. While he did not indicate just how much funding would be cut (and his budget proposal in non-binding), it will be interesting to see how his position affects the future of trade.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and the song of the week, Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Taking Care of Business.