Dhaka, Jul 1 (UNB) - Transport companies are being asked to bid to provide extra freight capacity to be used in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October reports BBC.
The hurried ferry procurement process as the UK prepared to leave the EU on 29 March cost taxpayers more than £85m.
That included £34m in a settlement and legal fees with Eurotunnel - which said it was not considered for the contract.
The government said it would not be committing to buying extra capacity but would have options to do so if needed.
"The Department for Transport is putting in place a freight capacity framework agreement that will provide government departments with the ability to secure freight capacity for our critical supply chains as and when required," a spokesman said.
"This framework does not commit the government to purchasing or reserving any freight capacity, but it does provide a flexible list of operators and options for the provision of the capacity that can be drawn upon if needed."
The government had previously awarded Seaborne Freight, DFDS and Brittany Ferries contracts worth more than £100m - all of which were eventually cancelled.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling faced calls to resign after he was forced to axe a £13.8m contract with Seaborne Freight, a company with no ships or trading history.
All three previous contracts - intended to offer extra capacity and relieve potential congestion at ports like Dover - had been awarded without a full public tender process and prompted legal action from Eurotunnel.
The government also had to pay more than £51m to cancel agreements with DFDS and Brittany Ferries when the UK asked the EU for an extension to the withdrawal process meaning it did not leave as planned on 29 March.
This time, the Department for Transport is pursuing an open process, inviting bids from all "suitably qualified freight operators".
Andrew Dean, a former government lawyer who is now director of public law at Clifford Chance, said: "The department has played a straight bat, having opted to follow a relatively low-risk procurement approach that is open to suppliers from across the EU and beyond."
BBC business correspondent Joe Miller said that Eurotunnel would be able to bid this time around, as the notice invites applications "regardless of transport mode", as long as they offer "roll-on, roll-off capacity" for lorries.
Seaborne Freight confirmed it would not be bidding again, while Britanny Ferries said it would "carefully consider" what capacity it could offer the government.
Tokyo, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Japan has resumed commercial whaling after 31 years, meeting a long-cherished goal of traditionalists that's seen as a largely lost cause.
Whaling boats embarked Monday on their first commercial hunts since 1988, when Japan switched to so-called research whaling, but will stay within the country's exclusive economic waters. Japan's six-month notice to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission took effect Sunday.
The Fisheries Agency said the catch quota through the end of this year is set at 227 whales, fewer than the 333 Japan hunted in the Antarctic in recent years. The quota for this season's catch, planned for release in late June, was withheld until Monday apparently to avoid criticism during the Group of 20 summit that concluded over the weekend in Osaka.
As the boats left port, whalers, their families and local officials in two major whaling towns, Shimonoseki in southwestern Japan, which is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's electoral constituency, and Kushiro in the north, celebrated the fresh start, hoping for a safe return and a good harvest.
"We hope commercial whaling will be on track as soon as possible, contribute to local prosperity and carry on Japan's rich whale culture to the next generation," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters in Tokyo.
While the resumption of commercial whaling is condemned by many conservation groups, others see it as a face-saving way to let the government's embattled and expensive whaling program gradually succumb to changing times and tastes.
Despite the massive attention and tax money and political support from ruling party lawmakers, whaling in Japan involved only a few hundred people and accounted for less than 0.1 percent of total meat consumption in fiscal 2017, according to the latest government data on food sufficiency.
Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during the lean times after World War II, with consumption peaking at 223,000 tons in 1962. But whale was quickly replaced by other meats. Whale meat consumption was down to 6,000 tons in 1986, a year before the commercial whaling moratorium imposed by the IWC.
Under the research hunts, which was criticized as a cover for commercial hunts as the meat was sold on the market, Japan at its peak caught as many as 1,200 whales but has drastically cut back on its catch in recent years after international protests escalated and whale meat consumption slumped at home.
Today, about 4,000-5,000 tons are supplied to Japan annually, or 30-40 grams of whale meat consumed per person a year, Fisheries Agency officials say.
The research whaling program lost money for years — 1.6 billion yen ($15 million) in the last year alone.
Japan will stick to a very strict catch quota with respect to the IWC findings, and will continue conducting research, said Hideki Moronuki, a Fisheries Agency official and a chief negotiator at the IWC. He said Japan's commercial whaling will never harm its stock.
The commercial whaling will be carried out by two groups. The mother boat Nisshin-maru and two support boats that used to go to the Antarctic will travel as far as the 200 nautical mile EEZ to catch minke, Bryde's and sei whales. Five other smaller ships will stay closer to the coast but also hunt minkes, in addition to Baird's beaked whales and dolphins that they used to catch under an IWC loophole. Altogether, they will catch 52 minkes, 150 Bryde's and 25 sei whales through Dec. 31.
Whales caught in coastal waters are expected to be brought back for fresh local consumption at any of six local whaling hubs that are mainly in northern Japan but include Taiji, the home constituency of ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai. The town is also known for dolphin hunts because of the documentary film "The Cove."
Whale meat caught further off the coast will be frozen and distributed for wider consumption.
Moronuki says the fate of commercial whaling depends on whether whale meat is widely accepted by consumers since it won't be getting as much subsidies as it used to get.
Moronuki said he hoped whale meat would be reasonably priced so that it will gain popularity in the long-term instead of becoming an expensive delicacy for a limited clientele. The government used to sell portions of whale meat caught in the scientific program for school lunch programs at discounted prices, he said.
"The future of commercial whaling depends on how popular whale meat can be," he said. "Whale meat is a traditional food in Japan and I would like many people to try and develop taste for it, especially younger people."
A 2017 survey by the Japan Whaling Association showed about 64 percent of respondents in ages ranging from teens to 50s said they have eaten whale meat but most of them said they haven't eaten once for more than five years.
Ultimately, the resumption of the traditional whaling may end up saving both huge government subsidies and the lives of many whales, experts say.
"What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling," said Patrick Ramage, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "It is a win-win solution that results in a better situation for whales, a better situation for Japan, a better situation for international marine conservation efforts and is therefore to be welcomed."
Whaling is losing support in other whaling nations including Norway and Iceland, where whalers have cut back on catches in recent years amid criticism that commercial hunts are bad for their national image and tourism.
Iceland caught only 17 whales, while Norway hunted 432 for the 2017-2018 season, way below their catch quota of 378 and 1,278 respectively, according to the IWC.
Japanese are also beginning to see ecotourism as a better option for whales than hunting them for food.
"People in coastal communities all do better when whales are seen and not hurt," Ramage said.
Tokyo, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Asian markets took heart Monday from revived hopes for progress in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China after President Donald Trump met with China's Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Japan.
But the latest data suggested the prolonged trade conflict between Washington and Beijing is taking a further toll on regional growth.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.6% in morning trading to 21,618.45. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 6,654.70. South Korea's Kospi was marginally higher at 2,131.43. Hong Kong's markets were closed for a national holiday. The Shanghai Composite rose 1.4% to 3,021.65.
Wall Street ended last week on an upbeat note after the Federal Reserve raised expectations that it is prepared to cut interest rates if needed to keep the economy growing.
The S&P 500 index rose 0.6% to 2,941.76. The index ended the month with a 6.9% gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3% to 26,599.96. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.5% to 8,006.24.
The Trump-Xi meeting in Japan marked the first time the two leaders had met since the dispute over trade and technology escalated following 11 rounds of negotiations.
While the agreement to resume talks forestalls a worsening in the conflict it remains unclear whether there will be a resolution. The last time Trump and Xi met — in early December at a G-20 gathering in Buenos Aires, Argentina — they also reached a cease-fire that injected new life into the talks. But the momentum didn't last.
The trade dispute has led both countries to levy billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on each other's exports, raising concerns over the impact on global economic growth and corporate profits.
"Asia markets will have the trade truce to cheer at the start of the fresh week following the Trump-Xi meeting on Friday," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist with IG in Singapore.
"While a packed data calendar lies ahead in the day, expect the positive glow from the temporary tariffs delay to be the key driver for price movements."
Despite the positive news on the trade front, the latest data were less upbeat.
A closely watched survey by Japan's central bank, released Monday, showed confidence among major manufacturers in the economy worsened for the second straight quarter.
The Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" survey of major companies showed confidence deteriorated in June compared with March, with the main index for major manufacturers fell to 7 in June from 12 in the previous quarterly survey in March.
Meanwhile, another indicator, the purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector, remained stable but still in contractionary territory at 49.4 in June, even with May's reading, the National Bureau of Statistics reported.
Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while a reading below 50 reflects contraction.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose $1.21 to $59.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 96 cents to $58.47 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.34 to $66.08 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.24 Japanese yen from 107.87 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1353 from $1.1371.
Tokyo, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — A closely watched quarterly survey by Japan's central bank released Monday showed declining confidence in the economic outlook among major manufacturers as trade tensions between the U.S. and China add to worries over regional and global growth.
The Bank of Japan's weak "tankan" reading was the second straight quarter of deterioration amid worries over trade tensions and a regional slowdown.
The survey's index for major manufacturers fell to 7 in June from 12 in the March survey.
The index shows the percentage of companies reporting positive conditions minus the percentage reporting unfavorable ones.
Although hopes for progress in resolving the festering dispute between Washington and Beijing revived with an agreement between President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping to resume trade negotiations, the outcome is far from certain. The easing of tensions after Trump and Xi met at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, was welcome relief for world markets, but worries remain.
Japan, the world's third-largest economy, has struggled to sustain growth as its population ages and declines.
But while the tankan reading for large manufacturers was worse than expected, conditions for non-manufacturers improved slightly, while the "all industry" index slipped to 10 from 12.
"Given that the change rather than the level tends to be the best guide to GDP growth, that suggests the economy may have passed its low point," Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.
Tokyo, Jul (AP/UNB) — Japan is imposing further restrictions on exports to South Korea, citing a decline in "relations of international trust" between the Asian neighbors.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said a review soliciting public comments starts Monday on the move to effectively remove South Korea from a list of so-called "white nations" that have minimum restrictions on trade.
Starting Thursday, Japanese exports related to technology in manufacturing, such as fluorinated polyimides used for displays, must apply for approval for each contract, the ministry said.
The statement did not say what exactly was behind the bilateral tensions.
But relations have soured since South Korea's Supreme Court ordered the seizure of local assets of a Japanese company after it refused to compensate forced laborers during World War II.