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Climate Smart Israel - a Delegation Update from Secretary Ross
Karen Ross, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Ross and California State Board of Food and Agriculture president Craig McNamara are traveling through Israel this week with a California delegation interested in adaptation strategies for climate change and drought. Yesterday we started with an excellent overview of agriculture in Israel presented by Oren Shaked, a senior agricultural specialist with the US Embassy. Oren described water in ag like a bike ride, "you can never stop pedaling!" They continually look at how they can do more with every drop they get. He noted the Field Advisory Service of Israel plays a vital role in the adoption of ag technology.

The list of challenges facing farmers here was almost identical to a list for California with the exception of BDS (boycott divestment sanctions). We heard about real world effects of BDS later in the day from a young farmer who has suffered loss of markets in the EU.

Our meeting with Mekorot, Israel's National Water Company, was fascinating and could have easily lasted a half day! The Israel Water Commission makes the decisions on all water allocations and pricing. Waste water is a resource and water for ag is priced by type of treatment. Mekorot is the engineering and knowledge mechanism for its delivery. Mekorot's 30 years of experience in seawater and brackish water treatment has improved energy efficiency, reduced consumption of chemical products, and minimized water loss (to leakage and evaporation). Mekorot prides itself on being a world leader in water technology that has turned an arid desert into a "flowering garden,' and seawater into drinking water.

The Volcani Institute, the research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture, has 200 scientists, 800 support staff and 300 students working on a broad agenda with a focus on arid-zone agriculture in a changing climate. We heard about their special wheat breeding program to develop varieties to cope with climate change; efforts to combat the impact of rainfall on soil erosion and run-off; lysimeters used to study plant nitrate uptake and deep percolation for different water qualities and crops; the use of plant sensors to measure water flow in citrus trees as well as stem growth and contraction; thermal imaging and drones to detect real time irrigation needs; automatic traps to monitor pests and real time changes in their behavior; and, new technology that enables simultaneous temperature and humidity control in greenhouses for optimal yield production.


Brexit EU Referendum Impact Yet To Be Measured By US Logistics Managers
SupplyChain - Patrick Burnson - June 24, 2016

While the regulatory implications for US shippers remain unclear, many economists and trade analysts suggest the UK vote to terminate its membership in the European Union after more than 40 years could be disruptive. "In what many are calling a "stunning rejection" of the current political and economic order, British citizens voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU in yesterday's referendum vote, a differential of more than 1 million ballots, according to Bloomberg. The results prompted Prime Minster David Cameron to resign and sent shock waves through financial markets. The pound dropped to the lowest level in nearly thirty years and European stocks tumbled. Safe havens, on the other hand, such as the yen, the dollar and gold surged.

Lindsey Piegza, Chief Economist with Stifel Fixed Income, believes the UK will now wait until a new Prime Minister is in place before executing exit talks and invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. "But several questions remain," she says. ?What is the impact of a Brexit for example. We are already seeing much of the impact span across financial markets as nervous investors flee from the region." Piegza said it also raises questions about the Fed.

"While not an official component of the Fed's dual mandate, global market stability has been a significant factor in determining the appropriate pathway for monetary policy here at home," she said. Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, maintained that it is too early for US shippers to panic. ?Britain has a proud history of leadership in free enterprise and free trade and as a leader of the Atlantic Alliance. Redoubling this commitment to openness in trade and investment, prudent but not overbearing regulation, and close cooperation with friends and allies abroad will be essential in the months ahead," he said.

Donahue noted that investments in Britain are worth more than half a trillion dollars, and many of those investments were made to reach not just British consumers but those in the European mainland as well. "We are committed to working with the UK government to ensure that the priorities of these stakeholders are taken into account in the debates that lie ahead," he added. Details:

Quitting the EU Could Cost Britain Access to the EU's Trade Barrier-free Single Market and Means it Must Seek New Trade Accords with Countries Around the World.
Supply Chain - By Peter Apps - June 24, 2016
Brexit may well turn out to be a terrible idea. But if Britain is going to survive and have any hope of prospering, whomever winds up running the country is going to have to take that on the chin - whether they supported "leave" or not - and start moving quickly. That is going to be tough. Within the UK government, no one has planned for this outcome. Inside the offices of Whitehall, UK officials were explicitly prohibited from considering responses to a Brexit. Britain now urgently needs a strategy for engaging with the world outside the structures of the European Union. And it doesn't have one.

Exactly how the following days and weeks will play out is far from clear. David Cameron says he wants to stay in office until October. That may not yet be a foregone conclusion. All we know for sure, to be honest, is that the British people have made their decision and that they - by the slimmest of majorities - want out of the European Union. What exactly will replace it, if anything, is much, much less clear.

The results show the country savagely, bitterly divided. Essentially, voters in London and Scotland voted to remain within the EU by a very substantial margin. Pretty much everyone else voted to leave. Already, speculation Scotland might quit the United Kingdom is rising - although what that really means will not be apparent for some time to come. If anything, the country now feels even more polarized than it did the day before the vote. Tying it back together is vital ? but that will take time and effort.

What has just happened will be a psychological blow to both elected politicians and civil service and foreign office officials. Some had already privately said they might quit in the event of a "leave" vote rather than oversee a policy they believed would see the UK's global influence nosedive. Hopefully, that won't happen. The UK needs a whole host of new policies on a wide variety of fronts. Even assuming it decides to quit the EU now, under the terms of the Lisbon treaty it still has two years of membership to run. Beyond that, however, it will need an entire new immigration system built almost from scratch as well as a multiple renegotiated trade deals-? if it can get them. Providing some clarity on that may be key to stopping the local and global market hemorrhage. More broadly, however, Britain needs to somehow outline a path to ongoing global relevance given that its voters have just gone against the advice of pretty much every major world leader.

That's not necessarily impossible. Britain's political elite might be reeling but there remains a broad internationalist consensus, even amongst many of those who lobbied for Brexit. The UK remains one of the premier economic and military powers in Europe. It is still a member of NATO. Earmarking more troops to support NATO allies in Eastern Europe, for example, would send a strong signal that the UK remained committed to the defense of the continent even as it moves to disentangle itself from the EU.

Maintaining a relatively open immigration policy would also send a similarly strong signal that the UK will remain internationalist. With Britain out of the EU, that could include a rather more liberal visa regime for migrants from the United States, Australia and New Zealand. That may not be politically easy, given just how great a motivating factor migration concerns were in bringing out the "leave" vote.

For many European and other migrants in the United Kingdom, last night's fight will feel like a kick in the teeth. This morning, even some pro "remain" Britons are talking about leaving. Somehow they will need to be reassured that the country they thought they knew is not about to change out of all recognition.

None of that will stop the short-term economic pain and political instability. If the margin of victory had been more significant, the UK might have been better able to put its recent period of political divisions behind it. The result is so close, however, that recrimination and regret seems all but inevitable. How the UK's major partners will react will not be immediately clear. In many ways, it's in everyone's interest for the exit from the EU to be relatively amicable and simple. But Washington, Paris and Berlin all have their own other preoccupations.

Still, by voting to leave the UK electorate have gone some way to addressing what many in the country clearly felt was a serious democratic deficit. On immigration in particular, the lack of control UK voters felt they had over their borders was clearly a source of considerable anger and frustration. That can, theoretically at least, now be addressed.

Britain has now set a precedent within Europe, however, that could usher in events more disruptive than its own EU exit. Electorates in Greece, Spain and elsewhere are at least as frustrated about austerity as UK voters were on migration. Many in Germany and elsewhere feel that way about the repeated bailouts of troubled Mediterranean nations. And the refugee crisis has hardly gone away, even if the number of arrivals has dropped substantially in 2016.

In some respects, once it has disentangled itself from the EU, the United Kingdom now has more freedom of maneuver than at any point in its recent history. Whether the pain it will feel in the short term leaves that feeling with it, however, is another matter entirely. Right now, there is an awful lot to play for ? and very, very little looks certain.


OCEMA Facilitates Common Approach for Terminal Weighing of VGM
The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association - BY ERIC KULISCH |MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2016
The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) indicated Friday that it is close to finalizing a common approach for US port terminals to weigh containers so that exporters can meet a new international requirement designed to prevent accidents at sea or on wharves from overweight cargo units. OCEMA exists to coordinate intermodal and over-the-road equipment interchanges and transportation among 19 ocean carriers engaged in international trade.

A month ago, the group opened a dialogue with six major East and Gulf coast port authorities to develop a plan for using port scales to provide the verified gross mass (VGM) of containers that shippers will be required to provide carriers before their cargo is loaded on ships, effective July 1. It also initiated similar discussions with West Coast terminals on how to address the amended Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, which prohibits carriers from loading containers without the weight information. Terminal operators in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland earlier this month said they will continue to weigh truck pulling containers as they enter their facilities - as is done to meet safety requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and assist carriers with planning the stowage of vessels - and forward that information to ocean carriers.

Officials cautioned at the time that the terminal-weighing plan was preliminary and required more negotiations to develop details for how it would be carried out. The effort is aimed at creating a universal approach for accepting containers without a certified container weight filed by the exporter in advance, weighing the containers, and transmitting the data to the ocean carrier and the shipper in a way that complies with the shipper?s responsibility to certify the accuracy of the container weight.

Friday's OCEMA statement spelled out that ports and marine terminal operators would forward the gross container weights directly to the ship master at each container line, after subtracting the weight of the truck and chassis. "Shippers availing themselves of this option would not be required to provide a signature to the ocean carrier for each container, but would acknowledge that the use of on-terminal scaling provides a VGM," OCEMA said. The organization said it received confirmation last week from the US Coast Guard that the processes used by terminals to obtain gross container weight are compliant with the SOLAS mandate and that it will now amend its Best Practice guidelines to incorporate the terminal weighing approach.

The original OCEMA best practices recommendations back in March outlined ways for shippers to submit container weight verification data based on either of two preferred approaches: weighing the fully loaded container at a shipper or third-party facility or calculating the weight by adding the tare weight of the empty shipping box to the weight of the contents. Many carriers and terminals said at the time that they would not accept a container without an advance VGM.

The VGM requirement has been decried by many US beneficial cargo owners as onerous and unnecessary. Outspoken opponents, such as the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), say shippers have to invest in scales of their own or pay outsiders to weigh the cargo, invest in software programming to transmit the data to the ocean carriers and face the prospect of missing sailings because the cutoff times for submitting the data will be hours in advance of the normal cargo delivery window. AgTC pressure for an alternative approach forced the Coast Guard in late April to declare that the existing OSHA safety rules for weighing outbound containers are equivalent to the SOLAS requirements. The Coast Guard?s decision opened the floodgates for port authorities and terminals to declare they would weigh containers on port scales on behalf of shippers seeking SOLAS compliance.

Shippers of all stripes have also bemoaned a lack of clarity regarding implementation and enforcement of the rule from national governing authorities as well as the liner industry. OCEMA said that the new, common approach to terminal weighing is expected to alleviate much of the confusion surrounding the VGM and simplify the process for most stakeholders, but cautioned that there may be operational constraints that require different processes for determining and transmitting VGM. OCEMA said it will continue to evaluate ways to achieve VGM compliance in cases where the terminal weighing approach is not feasible.


Business Groups Urge Congress to Pass TPP This Year
The Hill - June 16, 2016
Three powerful business groups on Thursday called on President Obama and congressional Republican and Democratic leaders to redouble their efforts to pass an expansive Asia-Pacific trade agreement by year's end. The US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable sent a letter saying that failing to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) risks US economic growth, jobs and leadership. "Many foreign governments are completing their own trade agreements that create advantages for their industries and workers at the expense of ours," wrote Chamber President Thomas Donohue, BRT President John Engler and NAM President Jay Timmons.


Agriculture Leaders: The US Can?t Walk Away From TPP
Daily Caller - June 15, 2016
Power players in the agriculture community said the United States" involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership is critical for country to remain the world's top agriculture exporter in a Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade hearing Tuesday. Chairman Dave Reichert said TPP, the landmark trade deal negotiated between 12 Pacific Rim countries ' signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month, but not yet approved by Congress - would eliminate tariffs and barriers in fastest growing region in the world.

"Economically and geopolitically, the United States cannot afford to walk away from the fastest growing region of the world," John Weber, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in his testimony. "Doing so not only would result in the United States forgoing expanded access to nearly half a billion consumers, but many, if not all, US economic sectors would lose existing market shares in the region as other trade deals - without the United States - are concluded."


tradeinfocus is a summary of news and events on the trade policy front for clients, trade & legislative colleagues, and professional friends of W.J. Byrnes & Co.