Modesto, Jun 28 (AP/UNB) — Along large swaths of California's lush central valley, almonds in the fuzzy hulls of tree leaves blow in the wind on thousands of acres of orchards. Thousands of miles away in India, customers browse the nut sections of busy street markets and grocery stores in search of the best almonds to use in curry dishes, health drinks, ice cream and many other recipes.
Now the future of that market is uncertain. India this month imposed tariffs on almonds and 27 other American products, including apples and walnuts, in retaliation for the U.S. ending India's preferential trade status. Those tariffs took effect June 16 and come on top of a significant tariffs China placed on almonds last year.
"We can deal with market disruption in one country, but to have it in multiple countries is a real challenge," said David Phippen, a partner of Travaille & Phippen, Inc., a farm and processing company in Manteca.
California supplies 82% of the world's almonds and has almost 7,000 growers. The Almond Board of California estimates the industry generates about 104,000 jobs in California, and the effect of the tariffs might ripple outward. India is such an important market that the almond board, whose members engage in market research and promotion overseas, has an office in New Delhi with a $6 million annual advertising budget.
The tariffs add about 12 cents per pound to shelled almonds, a 20 percent increase, and about 4 cents for those still in their shells, a rise of 17%.
"That doesn't sound like a large number, but India was an important alternative to exports that would've gone into China," said Julie Adams, president of the Almond Board of California. "It's difficult to know what the long-term effect of (the tariffs) will be."
The hit from China tariffs was much harder: the country imposed 50% tariffs on U.S. almonds in an escalating trade dispute. Exports to China decreased by about a third, according to the almond board.
Bhupesh Gupta, a grocery store owner in New Delhi, believes higher prices will cut into sales. While India is one of the world's largest consumer markets, it also has huge income disparities and hundreds of millions live in poverty. Even a small increase in the cost could have a large ripple effect on what people buy.
Still, other sellers say that Indians are so passionate about almonds that they will figure out a way to deal with price hikes.
"It won't matter, as anyone who needs almonds will buy no matter what the price," said Delhi grocer Virender Kaneja.
For California farmers, most immediately the tariffs mean planning difficulties as the harvest season approaches. For example, some may need to take on more of the shipping costs to make up for the increased prices, which will be negotiated in the contracts. The handlers then may absorb the increased costs themselves or pass them onto the growers.
To cope, growers may cut down on spending on equipment and fertilizer, perhaps making the choice to forego replacing a tractor. If the Indian tariffs slow the flow of inventory, as happened after the Chinese tariffs, the capacity of storage facilities may be stretched.
"From a grower perspective, we're along for the ride," said Jake Wenger, whose family has grown almonds on Wenger Ranch in Modesto, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) east of San Francisco, for four generations.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in India this week, meeting with officials amid growing tensions between the two countries over trade and tariffs. The trip is focused on Iran, but a California congressman has asked Pompeo to raise the almond tariff issue.
Some growers worry that if California almonds get too expensive, buyers will look elsewhere.
"They can buy other nuts or seeds, or if they're preparing a nut mix, they can lower the amount of almonds in that mix," said Phippen.
Countries may also turn to other producers, such as Australia, whose free trade agreement with China allowed the country to supply almonds in the wake of its tariffs on U.S. almonds.
Ultimately, the almond industry will need to make inroads in other markets, which is no small task.
"It takes so long for us to build relationships to market our products," said Sara Neagu-Reed, associate director of the California Farm Bureau Federation's federal policy division.
Still, no one is panicking, yet. California's export of almonds to India is valued at about $650 million, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department and California Department of Food and Agriculture, but the state tallied $4.5 billion in foreign sales in 2017. The USDA valued U.S. almond exports to China and Hong Kong at about $549 million in 2017-2018
In just over a month, the fruit will be harvested from farms and trucked to hulling businesses, where the nut will be separated from the shell and hull.
"It's pretty amazing and gives you pride as a grower when you think about something that's making its way all over the world," Wegner said.
In recent years, drought has been the biggest challenge for almond growers, and farmers noted that they have become accustomed to market fluctuations and cite the strong, worldwide demand for almonds as reason for optimism.
The almonds at Wenger Ranch are part of this year's record-high crop of 2.5 billion pounds (1.1 billion kilograms), up from about 2.3 billion pounds last year. Most of those almonds are already committed into contracts, so Wenger isn't worried for now. It's the future that's in the air.
"We can't do this every year," he said. "Long term, there has to be a solution to settle this."
Dhaka, June 27 (UNB) - Bangladeshi apparel businesses called upon international buyers for maintaining responsible buying practices to obey their given conditions properly.
The business insiders also said that their businesses are under pressure not getting proper prices of their products. They have reformed their factories costing huge money following Accord and Alliance but the buyers do not pay good prices.
“Our production cost increased vastly compared to several years in various reasons. Besides, we have been able to develop our products’ quality. But buyers do not maintain responsible buying practices. They want to buy at same cheap rate that was set long ago,” Mohiuddin Rubel, representative of Bangladesh at the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)’ s chief executive officer’s advisory council told UNB.
The director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) also said that the number of Bangladeshi garment factories that received the top billing from USGBC is the highest in the world.
“Bangladesh has highest number of green factories in the world. So we urge buyers to adhere to responsible buying practices when they source apparels from Bangladesh. We also request Accord and Alliance to consider the issue of increasing prices,” he also said.
He added that there are 87 green factories out of around 3000 factories in the country.
However, the Alliance, a consortium of North American brands and buyers, on Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Accord, a platform of European brands and buyers on Fire and Building Safety started working in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza accident on April 24, 2013 that killed 1,138 workers. They ended their five year tenure here on May 31, 2018.
Recently after hearing, the Appellate Division of Supreme Court has given an extension of 281 days to Accord from May 8 this year.
Mohiuddin, Managing Director (MD) of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange and also Director of Denim Expert Limited added, “Accord and Alliance forced to reform our factories but on the other hand, the buyers reduced prices of our products than expected.”
“Our ability has increased here. Once we made low range products and now we can make middle range products. Besides, we are going to value addition, robotics of fourth industrial revolution and making green factories but sadly buyers not increasing prices rather decreasing. They want to pay years old prices but now all our things including products quality developed.”
“Even though, we’ve some image crisis in international markets after Rana Plaza incident. However, we have taken initiatives to overcome the image crisis. We hope a positive message will be got there in future. So we need our government’s support,” he added.
Another businessman Hasin Arman Ayon, director of MB Knit Fashion Limited said that unhealthy competition and lack of negotiation skill are the main reasons behind low prices.
“We have reformed our factories costing huge money due to Accord and Alliance in our country. But they do not take any initiative to increase price rates of Bangladeshi products,” he also claimed.
He said, “We bought a jockey pump at Tk64 lakh, after some days Accord said to dump the new pump not matching with their conditions. However, we have made our factory eco-friendly costing huge money but we do not get proper price of our products.”
“We urge the accord and alliances to take initiative for raising prices of Bangladeshi products otherwise we have to face a big crisis,” he added.
Asif Ibrahim, Director of BGMEA and Managing Director of Keilock Newage Bangladesh Ltd told UNB that their industry is passing many challenges following competitiveness.
“We do not get good prices as per our expectation in the international markets. If we don’t get proper prices why we will build green factories costing huge money?,” he questioned.
Asif added that they hope good days of Ready-made Garments (RMG) industry of the country will come after overcoming the image crisis. “We are working to increase our institutional capacity and sustainability.”
According to Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Osama Taseer, RMG industry faces pressure from increasing labor cost. It takes up 15 percent of the total production cost.
“Around 381.35 percent minimum wage hike witnessed from 2006 to 2019 and 50 percent wage hike for entry level workers in 2019 compared to 2013,” he added.
According to BGMEA study on Apparel industry in Bangladesh 2018, Accord and Alliance covered factories completed more than 90 percent of their remediation activities. 422 factories have remediated more than 50 percent, 79 factories have relocated new places and 130 factories joined Accord and Alliance.
“1200 garment factories have been closed down over the last 4 years due to failing in compliance standard. The remediation cost for 80 percent of the factories was estimated at between $100,000 and $250,000 each,” it also read.
Former BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said that production cost increased around 8 percent every year although the price of apparel in world market did not increase. Around 30 percent production cost increased from 2014 to 2018.
According to BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq, “We’re facing many challenges in product diversification, improving image crisis, technological development, innovation and value addition. Our orders have been reduced as consumer demand has been changed in global markets.”
She also said the owners of 30 garment factories have been forced to shut down their units in May. “Even many owners paid salaries of their workers after selling their machinery.”
The BGMEA chief also said the living cost of garment workers has increased sharply which should be taken into consideration.
“However, we are in crisis of positive image and we should build image in the international market with the support of all specially through the media. The Era of Collaboration has begun only to make this industry sustainable. BGMEA will work hard to establish our positive image and branding in the international market,” she added.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem told UNB that in the last six years since Rana Plaza collapse, Bangladesh has been able to develop its image in local and abroad taking various initiatives including reforming factories, increasing labors wages and developing products quality. But some labour demonstrations tarnished their image to buyers somewhat.
Golam Moazzem added that now many small factories owner are struggling to sustain in the apparel business to meet their cost. So the government should give separate fund for them and brand buyers should come forward to increase price rate of apparel products of Bangladesh.
“The authorities concerned should go forward in a planned way to develop the country’s important industry. Production has to increase reducing production cost. There are many green factories being built, that is positive for the industry. But other issues should be considered as well,” the researcher said.
Dhaka, June 27 (UNB)- For the first time ever Korea-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KBCCI) participated at the Import Goods Fair (IGF) 2019 with 10 different companies with the assistance of the Embassy of Bangladesh, Seoul, held in Coex Mall from 27-29 June 2019.
Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) has been organizing this Fair for a long time to showcase the new products that are imported from the partner countries annually. This year 129 companies of 45 countries including Bangladesh have attended the IGF 2019.
Bangladesh has displayed its exportable items to the visitors through the installation of 12 booths participated by NPOLY, Meghna Group of Industries, ZEESHAN, MUNSHI, Index Accessories Ltd, Novo Cargo Services Ltd., Genetica Agro and A & L Limited.
Mr. Hong Kwang-hee, Chairman, KOIMA inaugurated the IGF 2019 on Thursday in presence of the Ambassadors/Diplomatic representatives of the participating countries. After the inauguration, along with the dignitaries, he visited different pavilions/stalls in the Fair. When the KOIMA Chairman and other Ambassadors visited Bangladesh Pavilion, Ambassador Abida Islam, President of KBCCI Mr. Mostafa Kamal and officials of the Embassy and the KBCCI welcomed them.
Bangladesh Ambassador then presented traditional handicrafts to the KOIMA Chairman. KBCCI president also honored the KOIMA president by giving him a crest.
During the fair, exhibits like RMG products, jute and leather products, T-shirts, bangles, ceramic products, Agro products, Cargo services, IT services and Products and different types of food items were displayed in the Bangladesh Pavilion which attracted the dignitaries and the visitors. It is mentionable that Korean Businessmen showed their deep interest in the leather goods and ceramic commodities of Bangladesh.
Participation of Bangladesh in the Import Good Fair in 2019 has provided Bangladesh an opportunity to present its products which generated enthusiasm among the Korean businessmen. Many of them enquired about these products with interest.
Montreal, June 27 (AP/UNB) — A trade group representing hundreds of airlines is renewing its push for additional pilot training and coordination among global aviation regulators to ensure that the Boeing 737 Max is safe before it is allowed to fly again after two deadly crashes.
If additional training is required, including the possible use of scarce MAX flight simulators, it could come at a tremendous cost to Boeing and further delay the plane's return.
Airlines are already adjusting their schedules with the expectation that the plane will remain grounded for an extended period.
Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it has taken the Max out of its schedule for another month, through Oct. 1. Southwest is the fourth-biggest U.S. carrier by revenue and has more Max jets — 34, with about 250 more on order — than any airline in the world.
Southwest's announcement was the latest case of a major airline dialing back its hopes for a speedy return of the Max. United Airlines did the same thing Wednesday. The plane was grounded worldwide in mid-March, but airlines hoped that Boeing would fix problematic flight-control software quickly enough so that the planes could be back in service in June.
The Max's return took another detour this week after U.S. government test pilots working in a flight simulator discovered another flaw in the plane's computer systems that could push the nose down. That condition, called runaway stabilizer trim, occurred in the Max accidents in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people where pilots were unable to control the planes, according to preliminary reports by investigators.
The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring Boeing to fix the new flaw, a step that is expected to add from one to three months to the plane's return.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that before the Max began flying, the FAA repeatedly found safety lapses at Boeing and ordered the company to fix them, but Boeing failed to do so. In 2015, Boeing agreed to pay a $12 million settlement and make changes to ensure that it was complying with safety regulations.
Boeing has been under intense scrutiny since October, when a Lion Air Max plunged into the Java Sea off Indonesia shortly after takeoff. Boeing began updating the flight-control software implicated in the crash — it pushed the plane's nose down more than two dozen times based on faulty readings from a single sensor.
The update was not complete, however, by the time an Ethiopian Airlines Max crashed in March. Again, the nose-down pitch occurred. Pilots initially followed Boeing's prescribed response, but it didn't work, possibly because the plane was flying too fast.
Pilot training has emerged as a central part of fixing the plane. Boeing wants computer-based training, and FAA technical experts agree that would be sufficient.
Others, however, believe pilots need to practice with the new Boeing software in flight simulators. Earlier this month, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed a crippled airliner safely on the Hudson River in 2009, told a House subcommittee that pilots should get simulator training.
That, however, would pose a problem for Boeing and the airlines — it could take weeks or months to find simulator time for every pilot who flies the Max. Southwest and American Airlines each have thousands of Boeing 737 pilots, but neither airline has a Max simulator. Boeing has one in Miami and a similar machine in Seattle.
At a meeting in Montreal of regulators and airline representatives, the head of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, made an appeal for coordination between aircraft operators and regulators.
De Juniac and his airline group are trying to repair the fragmented regulatory approach to the Max. In March, other countries grounded the plane despite the FAA's initial view that it was safe even after a second crash.
Regulators in Europe, China and Canada have indicated they want to conduct their own reviews of the FAA's 2017 certification of the plane, which could further complicate and delay the Max's return to flying.
Shares of Boeing were down $7.35, or 2%, to $367.59 in afternoon trading.
Frankfurt, Jun 27 (AP/UNB) — Carmaker Ford said Thursday it is shedding 12,000 jobs in Europe to increase profitability, part of a global trend of cost cuts by automakers facing shifting consumer tastes and heavy investments in electric cars.
The job cuts are part of a broad restructuring at Ford that includes the already announced closure of six plants in Europe. Ford is reducing its total number of plants in the region to 18 and is reorganizing its business into three divisions: commercial vehicles, passenger cars and imports of Ford models such as the Mustang.
Ford of Europe said that the positions in Europe would be eliminated mostly by voluntary separation programs through the end of 2020. Some 2,000 lost jobs will be salaried positions, part of 7,000 white collar jobs being cut as part of a global restructuring by the company based in Dearborn, Michigan.
"Separating employees and closing plants are the hardest decisions we make," said Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley.
He said the company was "providing support to ease the impact."
Ford of Europe, based in Cologne, Germany, said it hopes to "significantly improve" its financial results in Europe, moving toward sustained profitability and a longer-term goal of 6% operating margins.
Ford lost $398 million in 2018 in Europe. Rowley said that financials would improve this year but stopped short of predicting a full-year profit in a conference call with reporters.
Ford Motor Co. and other global automakers are facing multiple challenges, including the expensive push to develop electric cars that will help them meet new emission rules in Europe and comply with regulations favoring alternative energy vehicles in China. They need strong profits to fund those investments.
Ford of Europe said all its new vehicles would come with an electric variant, such as a battery or battery-internal combustion hybrid, and that it would build a future family of electric vehicles in Europe.
The company has already said it is closing its Bridgend engine plant in Wales, a transmission plant in France, and three plants in Russia. It is selling its Kechnec transmission plant in Slovakia to Magna.