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Statement on the United States Trade Delegation’s Meetings in Beijing - Office of U. S. Trade Representative

On January 7-9, an official delegation from the United States led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish held meetings in Beijing with Chinese officials to discuss ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity, and balance in trade relations between our two countries. The officials also discussed the need for any agreement to provide for complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement. The meetings were held as part of the agreement reached by President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires to engage in 90 days of negotiations with a view to achieving needed structural changes in China with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft of trade secrets for commercial purposes, services, and agriculture.  The talks also focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States.  The United States officials conveyed President Trump’s commitment to addressing our persistent trade deficit and to resolving structural issues in order to improve trade between our countries.

The delegation will now report back to receive guidance on the next steps.


This is What a Social Security Scam Sounds Like  - Federal Trade Commission

Earlier last month, we told you about a growing scam: people pretend to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and try to get your Social Security number or your money. That scam is now growing exponentially. To compare: in 2017, we heard from 3,200 people about SSA imposter scams, and those people reported losing nearly $210,000. So far THIS year: more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, and they tell us they’ve lost $10 million.

Here’s what one of those scam calls sound like:

Go Here

Scammers are saying your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime. Sometimes, the scammer wants you to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Sometimes, he’ll say your bank account is about to be seized – but he’ll tell you what to do to keep it safe. (Often, that involves putting your money on gift cards and giving him the codes – which, of course, means that your money is gone.)

Oh, and your caller ID often shows the real SSA phone number (1-800-772-1213) when these scammers call – but they’re faking that number. It’s not the real SSA calling.

Here's what to know:

Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls out of the blue. And your bank accounts are not about to be seized.

SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.

The real SSA number is 1-800-772-1213, but scammers are putting that number in the caller ID. If you’re worried about what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA. Even if the wait time is long, confirm with the real SSA before responding to one of these calls.

Never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Or your bank account or credit card number.

If you get one of these calls, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.


Port Authority Achieves Major Milestone in Efforts to Enhance Movement of Cargo by Rail Outside NY-NJ Region - NY/NJ Port of Authority

Today’s (1/7/19) opening of final rail facility in the Port of New York and New Jersey network will advance five-year strategic goal to handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips on local highways

The Port Authority today announced the opening of a major new expansion of the rail network serving the Port of New York and New Jersey, allowing the agency to advance its five-year strategic goal to expand rail capacity for cargo destined for outside the region. This expansion will reduce congestion and emissions and get goods to their final destination more efficiently and at lower cost.

The new Port Jersey rail facility, part of what is known as the ExpressRail system, culminates a $600 million Port Authority capital investment program dating back to the 1990s that established direct rail access to on-dock and near-dock intermodal rail services at all of its major marine terminals. The facilities were designed to reduce the port’s historical heavy reliance on trucks to transport cargo that arrives at the port via ship to its final destination. Trucks still account for moving 85 percent of the containers on and off port terminals today. The opening of the final rail facility will allow the port to advance its strategic five-year goal to handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips travelling through thru the local roads, which will reduce congestion and greatly enhance air quality.

“Given the highly competitive nature of the port business, we need to assure shippers that we have best-in-class infrastructure and service in place to meet growing demand and to allow cargo to be moved in a smooth, efficient, timely and environmentally friendly manner to wherever its final destination may be,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “With more than 75 percent of the vessels arriving in the Port of New York and New Jersey as their first call, an efficient rail cargo system can deliver cargo to an inland destination before the vessel reaches the next U.S. port, making our port a far more attractive destination for shippers. This project, and others we are doing throughout the Port of New York and New Jersey, will ensure that we maintain our competitive edge and continue our longstanding designation as the leading port of choice on the East Coast.”

“This port is a pivotal gateway not only for goods destined for the 27 million consumers in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, but for the millions of others in markets within 250 miles of the port,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Expanding our ability to move cargo by rail is a smart business decision that ensures that we can continue to move cargo expeditiously through the port and do it quickly, cost efficiently and in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way.”

The initial phase of the ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal facility, which began service today, consists of four tracks designed for active loading and unloading of cargo from the GCT Bayonne terminal that connect to a lead track to and from the main freight rail network. It also consists of two high-efficiency, all-electric, regenerative powered, widespan, dual cantilevered, rail mounted gantry cranes featuring LED lighting to load and unload containers in the intermodal yard. By the middle of this year, the facility will be fully built out to 9,600 linear feet of an eight-track working pad, two lead tracks, as well as additional support and train storage track.

The intermodal facility will help support the port’s cargo growth and have an annual capacity of 250,000 container lifts. It will connect the GCT Bayonne terminal to CSX and Norfolk Southern’ s extensive rail network, allowing shippers to efficiently and seamlessly transfer their cargo from ship to rail; and reach key inland markets in the Midwest, New England and elsewhere in a timely manner.

“GCT USA commenced a comprehensive terminal expansion in 2009. The new rail terminal known as GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey is the second important milestone in the project. In 2014, GCT completed the first phase that included the addition of a second berth at GCT Bayonne, featuring two super post-Panamax cranes and 20 semi-automated rail mounted gantry cranes, supported by advanced systems operating the facility. The new technology investment enabled the implementation of the Truck Appointment System in 2017, providing an efficient yard and gate operation while putting GCT Bayonne at the technological forefront of marine terminal operators in North America,” said John Atkins, President of GCT USA. “Coupled with the highest crane productivity in the harbor and now completing the ExpressRail facility in 2019, the intermodal yard provides our customers with a first port-of-call advantage for their rail cargo. GCT Bayonne is extremely well-positioned to provide our customers superior service for both local and intermodal cargos.”

Every container moved at GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey eliminates 1.5 truck trips. Over the life of this intermodal facility, emission reductions resulting from the switch from truck to rail transport is expected to total 415 tons of nitrogen oxide and 108 tons of particulate matter, or the equivalent of taking more than 45,300 cars off the road. It also will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 18,300 tons annually.

The cost of the GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey facility is $149 million, including $56 million for GCT USA to build the work pads. The remainder of the project, including lead tracks and storage track, accounts for the remainder of the investment. The $149 million is recoverable over time through monies collected through the Cargo Facility Charge, a fee assessed on cargo shipped through the Port of New York and New Jersey to cover the costs of critical road, rail, and security infrastructure projects. However, Port Authority capital funds were initially used to build the facility.


In the News:

Geneva, 4 January 2019 – 57 proposals to amend the lists of species subject to CITES regulations were submitted by 90 countries for consideration at the next World Wildlife Conference - the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES #CoP18), to be held from 23 May to 3 June 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In addition, a record 140 documents proposing new measures and policies on international trade in wild fauna and flora were submitted for consideration by the Conference.

The proposals to amend the lists of species (i.e. the CITES Appendices) and other documents will be decided upon at the triennial meeting of the 183 Parties to CITES (i.e. 182 countries and the European Union). The proposals are now available on the CITES website in the languages and formats in which they were received. Parties have until mid-March 2019 to provide their comments on these proposals. The CITES Secretariat will also invite comments from relevant intergovernmental bodies.

“The stakes are high under CITES and robust debates are to be expected. Decisions taken in Colombo will have a real and immediate effect on the legislation, regulation, and operating practices across the globe for international trade in the species concerned. Decisions taken at CoP18 will also alter their conservation and international trade management, and have direct impacts on biodiversity, livelihoods of rural communities and national economies”, said Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero.

The 57 listing proposals cover a wide range of species, from mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects to a variety of plant species including high value rosewood species. Countries are continuing to use their Convention for ensuring that timber and marine resources are not overexploited by proposing new timber and fishery species for inclusion in the CITES Appendices. For the first time, a proposal has been submitted to include the giraffe, the world's tallest land mammal, under CITES. There is also a proposal to list the mammoth, an extinct species, in CITES Appendix II.​

Read further


Rail Volumes Remain Strong for Ninth Consecutive Month - Port of NY/NJ - Breaking Waves

Total volume for November 2018 was 583,880 TEUs (331,242 lifts) versus 566,519 TEUs (323,290 lifts) in November 2017, a 3.1% increase. Bringing our YTD total to 6,570,398 TEUs. Import loads (TEUs) were up by 5.9% in November 2018 vs. November 2017, though export loads (TEUs) decreased 10.4% in November 2018 vs. November 2017. Export empties increased 9.3% totaling 164,584 TEUs in November 2018 versus 150,536 TEUs in November 2017.

Import loads for the month of November totaled 301,826 TEUs (171,437 lifts) versus 285,070 TEUs (162,802 lifts) in November 2017, a 5.9% increase. For period January through November 2018, the Port of New York and New Jersey imported loads reached 3,358,777 TEUs (1,915,389 lifts) versus 3,122,103 TEUs (1,788,813 lifts) in same period of 2017, an 7.6% increase. Import empties are down 18.8% in January through November 2018 versus the same period in 2017.

Read entire article


Statement by Secretary Mnuchin on Congressional Briefing on Russia Sanctions - U.S. Department of the Treasury

Washington – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement today in advance of a bipartisan, classified briefing for Members of the House of Representatives on the sanctions against Russian oligarch and Specially Designated National Oleg Deripaska and three companies he controlled at the time sanctions were imposed, En+ Group PLC (En+), United Company RUSAL PLC (Rusal), and EuroSibEnergo (ESE):

“I was pleased to accept the invitation from Speaker Pelosi and several committee chairs to discuss our Russia sanctions program with the new Congress. It is my hope that today’s briefing will provide lawmakers with an overview of Treasury’s proposed actions with respect to these sanctions targets.

“This Administration has sanctioned 272 Russian-related individuals and entities, of which 256 are subject to sanctions administered by Treasury. This includes 150 individuals and entities under Ukraine/Russia-related sanctions authorities codified by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

“Oleg Deripaska will remain sanctioned, his property and interests remain blocked, and any companies he controls are also sanctioned. Treasury recently designated Viktor Boyarkin, one of Deripaska’s close business associates. Under CAATSA, any person who knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for or on behalf of Deripaska faces secondary sanctions.

“En+, Rusal, and ESE were designated for sanctions solely because they were majority-owned or controlled by Deripaska. These entities are undergoing significant restructuring and governance changes that sever Deripaska’s control and significantly diminish his ownership. They have committed to provide Treasury with an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control. As a result, these entities will no longer be designated for sanctions.

“Treasury will be vigilant in ensuring that En+ and Rusal meet these commitments. If these companies fail to comply with the terms, they will face very real and swift consequences, including the reimposition of sanctions. 

“One of the goals of sanctions is to change behavior, and the proposed delistings of companies that Deripaska will no longer control show that sanctions can result in positive change.

“I appreciate Members’ interest in these important national security issues. I am committed to providing a full briefing, answering their questions, and hearing their concerns. I look forward to working closely with both the House and Senate.”
 
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