2M Partners Divert Ships from APMTR

Danish container shipping giant Maersk Line and its 2M partner MSC are diverting four boxships from their joint Transatlantic TA3 service from APM Terminals to Europe Container Terminals (ECT) in Rotterdam.

The impacted vessels will be Maersk Kawasaki, Maersk Kure, MSC Charleston, and Maersk Kowloon, Maersk Line said in an advisory.

“This change is dictated by the current situation at APMTR where we experienced delays in the past weeks. By changing the terminal we can ensure on time departure and avoid delays at destination ports in USA,” Maersk Line added.

The affected calls range from July 27 till August 17.

As disclosed, the change is temporary and it will be reviewed after the departure of MSC Charleston.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Petya cyber attack from June 27 that hit several of Maersk’s 76 APM Terminals.

APMT Maasvlakte 2 at the Port of Rotterdam was one of the hardest hit terminals with only 1 vessel berthing between June 28 and July 6. During the days following the cyber attack, the terminal stopped all loading and discharging activities, CargoSmart’s data shows

World Maritime News Staff

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The best cities for expats – from all angles

rom the FIDI website: ( )

18 July 2017

Here at FIDI we hear a lot of travellers’ tales and have built up a pretty good idea of which are the best places for expats to go to work. There are also a number of resources online that rank international destinations in order of preference. But Top Ten lists rarely tell the full story, so we have combined our own experience (and that of our affiliates) with data from elsewhere on the web to compile our very own list of winners in a few key categories. Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly announce the best expat cities – from all angles.

Best Expat City for Personal Safety: Luxembourg

Mercer ranked 230 cities based on internal stability, crime levels, the performance of local law enforcement and the home country’s relationship with other countries. The winner, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the largely danger-free Duchy of Luxembourg.

While there is a certain amount of organized crime and drug trafficking in Luxembourg, violence is rare, and expats can safely walk the streets at night. Nor is there any political or social unrest to speak of. There are occasional protests, but these are – much like the country itself – small and usually extremely civilised.

Best Expat City for Education: Stockholm, Sweden

Two countries keep popping up in internet reports on expat schooling: Sweden and Singapore. According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, 75% of expat families in Sweden believe the quality of early years care is higher than back home.

We frequently hear, on the other hand, that Singapore offers the best schooling for older children. Indeed, the same survey reported that the same proportion (75%) of expats thought that schooling was better in Singapore than they would experience at home. The major difference between the two is that Singaporean schools are not necessarily free of charge, so the award goes to the socially-minded Swedes for including expats in some of the most generous state-funded childcare benefits available anywhere.

Best Expat City for Transport Infrastructure: Tokyo, Japan

Forget the bullet train; in Japan it’s not about speed but efficiency and reliability. According to Internations, no expats are more impressed by their local transport infrastructure than those living and working in Japan. Eight in ten respondents rate the transport infrastructure as excellent, while globally only 29% feel the same. In fact, less than 1% give this factor a negative rating, compared to the global average of 25%.

Best Expat City for High Pay v Low Hours: Lausanne, Switzerland

When the OECD released its Taxing Wages 2017 report, it highlighted that an expat’s location made a big difference to his or her real income, when measured in terms of hours worked. In some cities, expats can enjoy higher average wages, but quality of living will be offset by an expectation that longer hours will be worked. The website analysed the figures and concluded that Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway were the countries with the most attractive ratio. Switzerland takes the prize with an average hourly expat wage of $36.73/hour, plus a trend that the OECD observed of a generally improving tax situation which makes it very attractive for expat families. No wonder 24.3% of the working population is from overseas.

Best Expat City for Clean Air and Healthcare: Vienna, Austria

With all that Alpine air, it should be no surprise that Vienna comes out on top in this category. According to a recent survey by Internations (PDF l 8.05 MB), expats living in the Austrian capital rate the quality of the environment very highly (e.g. water, air), with 96% giving it a positive rating. Moreover, only 3% have something negative to say about it, compared to 20% globally. The quality of the medical care is rated as very good by 38% and 34% are also completely satisfied with its affordability.

Best Expat City for Internet speed: Kansas City, USA

An unusual category perhaps, but who needs decent communication more than business expats? Whether it’s file transfer, collaborating reliably with overseas colleagues, or simply Skyping the folks back home, a decent broadband connection matters. A lot. Based on data from the Nomad List, the average reported Internet speeds experienced by expats were all over 100mbps in Singapore, Seoul, Bucharest and Chattanooga – but the prize goes to Kansas City, Missouri for a blistering 150mbps. Send them a congratulatory tweet if you like; they’re probably online right now.

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China to require U.S. imports to be mosquito-free

In a move that could create export delays and add cost, China is now requiring that imported American goods be mosquito-free to prevent spread of the Zika virus, according to a trade advisory issued Wednesday by one of the world's largest shipping lines.

The advisory from the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), cites an announcement from the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine:

“With immediate effect, it means that there is a need to provide a certificate of extermination of mosquito. If no certificate is provided, the buyer must fumigate the cargo at arrival at port of destination.”

The requirement comes as American health officials grapple with reports of Zika infections in Florida from mosquitoes.

But it’s unclear how exactly that requirement will be implemented. The Agriculture Transportation Coalition’s program manager Abigail Struxness said the agriculture exporters’ trade group is working to find out who will fumigate, with what, when, who issues the certificate of extermination and whether cargoes from the entire country are subject to the requirement when “only one corner of one state” -- Florida -- has had Zika reports from mosquitoes that are believed to be in the area..

“This will most certainly disrupt the U.S. exporters’ ability to deliver goods affordably and on time to foreign customers in China,” the trade group said in a statement.

Zika is primarily transmitted by Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, which thrives in tropical climates. The virus is hard to detect as 80% of people infected show no symptoms. For those who do, the illness is usually mild with symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes lasting from several days to a week. However, infection during pregnancy can cause the babies to have abnormally small brains, a birth defect called microcephaly.

China first announced the requirement on March 2, but the U.S. was not listed among the 40 countries and regions in which it initially applied. It’s now been added.

The Agriculture Transportation Coalition lists a number of questions in its statement, including the cost and feasibility of fumigating high-volume cargoes.

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Turkey Travel Warning


The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey. In light of the July 15 coup attempt and the resulting potential for interruptions to travel and daily life, we suggest U.S. citizens reconsider travel to Turkey at this time. This replaces the Travel Warning dated July 16, 2016.

Foreign and U.S. tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations. As stated in the Worldwide Caution dated March 3, 2016, throughout Europe extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems, and public venues where people congregate as well as religious sites and highprofile events. U.S. citizens are reminded to review personal security plans and remain vigilant at all times. U.S. Government personnel in Turkey remain subject to travel restrictions in the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig. U.S. citizens should avoid areas in close proximity to the Syrian border.

On July 18, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration rescinded its July 15, 2016 notice to airmen (NOTAM) which was issued following the launch of an unsuccessful military coup in Turkey. The NOTAM prohibited U.S. airline carriers from flying to or from Turkish airports and all airline carriers, regardless of country of registry, from flying into the United States from Turkey either directly or via a third country. Normal flight operations for all carriers between the United States and Turkey have resumed.

The Department of State extended its March 29, 2016 ordered departure of family members of U.S. Government personnel posted to the U.S. Consulate in Adana and family members of U.S. Government civilians in Izmir province through July 26, 2016. The Department of State terminated its March 29, 2016 ordered departure declaration for Mugla province. The U.S. Consulate in Adana remains open and will continue to provide all routine consular services.

For your safety:

  • Avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly near the Syrian border.
  • Stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations.
  • Exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.
  • Stay away from political gatherings and rallies.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities in an emergency.
  • Stay at hotels with identifiable security measures in place.
  • Monitor local media.

For further detailed information regarding Turkey and travel: See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Turkey’s Country Specific Information.

For further details:

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Brazil Summer 2016 – Things to Know About the Olympics, Zika and Your Relocation

The Rio 2016 games, officially referred to as Games of the XXXI Olympiad, begin in about 50 days and will go on from 5 to 21 August 2016. This will be the first time the Olympic Games are held in South America and more than 10,000 athletes from over 200 counties will be participating. With less than two months left until the games begin, now would be a good time to decide if spending your summer in Brazil during the games is something you would want to do.

Factors to Consider Before Traveling to the Olympics

The Zika virus is spreading rapidly and many would be Olympic travelers are wondering if traveling to Brazil right now is the right thing to do. There are concerns about safety and it is advisable to take precautions. Other safety concerns are connected to the infrastructure that the Brazilian government has put up for the games. Due to the fact that the budget for putting up the infrastructure has been inflated, will Brazilians accept to support the government or will they rebel. If they choose to rebel, there could be strikes, riots and demos and this could put many things into jeopardy. New infrastructure can also be compromised due to the fact that they have been built hurriedly. There are definitely some essential factors to consider before taking a flight to Brazil. For purposes of safety and comfort, the following issues must be considered.

Be Aware of the Health Risks

The World Health Organization has been very specific about Zika by describing it as an international public health emergency. The virus has not been known to have life threatening symptoms except in very rare and extreme situations. For the regular traveler, the virus is not considered to pose any danger even when they visit areas that have been impacted by Zika. For people who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, the virus can be potentially dangerous. Anybody else would have no extenuating explanations to skip the Rio 2016 games.

The Importance of Taking Precautions and Staying Updated

Just recently, the World Health Origination has stated that there is a very low risk of the Zika virus spreading. They have also stated that it is not necessary to move the Olympic Games from Rio or and there is no need to postpone the games altogether. Because the virus has been linked to birth defects, there are precautions that are recommended for women who are either pregnant or are planning to get pregnant. Men who want to attend the games and have pregnant spouses have also been advised. Any pregnant woman is advised not to attend the Olympics. Men who attend must take vital measures to prevent mosquito bites. They should also use condoms or abstain from sexual contact to avert the possibility of transmission of the virus.

Zika Not the Only Threat to Health

But Zika alone is not the only possible health challenge. A mosquito bite could also bring about dengue, a common disease in Brazil and the tropics that can affect anybody. Taking precautions is vital to keeping yourself from this ailment. Water is another area where you must remain watchful about. Avoid tap water and when you take bottled water, ensure that they are tightly sealed and have not been tampered with. Authorities in Rio have done so much to ensure that there is safe drinking water. Pollution is still a problem and bacteria and waterborne infections can be found in Rio’s waters. Activities such as swimming, bathing and wading in the water could be unsafe. It is advisable to have loose fitting and long sleeve attire as well as full length pants and to use insect repellants. You should also stay in accommodations that are mosquito proof. Your beddings should have mosquito nets and you should stay in accommodations that are air conditioned in order remain safe.

Getting the Best Deals

Because the dollar is very strong at the moment, you can get good deals on airfare and a long trip can be quite beneficial. There is very high competition right now among airlines and many regional carriers are offering huge discounts to attract customers. You can get round trip flights for fares as cheap as $650. This is very affordable if you are on a budget. You should also not procrastinate on accommodations because they will become steeper as the event draws near. Prominent places that are in close proximity to Rio such as Copacabana, Barra de Tijuca and Ipanema will see a surge in the number of visitors. Copacabana could still have rentals at less than $400 with Barra de Tijuca and Ipanema available at rates at $230 to $420. During the event, expect rentals to become inflated because of demand. While most of the events during the Olympic Games are already sold out, you can still get tickets for a few events. Some tickets can become available if other attendants cancel. You can register for the Rio ticket web portal where you will get updates. You can also try looking for tickets from registered sellers where you will get specific prices for specific events.

What You Need to Know Locally

Learning more about the local environment will help you with your stay in Brazil. You should learn about areas with potential crime and be aware of the climatic conditions. Rio has high levels of street crime despite that fact that it is a very attractive, exhilarating and affordable city. It helps to ditch valuables such as jewelry, and ensure your phone is tucked into safety. Moving around with a travel money card that has limited money is advisable. You must always remain observant in especially in crowded areas and take care of your belongings and never get distracted because this makes you easy prey for pickpockets. Exploring with a local and walking in large groups helps and it is also advisable to use credible taxis to get around. It’s advisable to call radioed taxis or have the hotel where you stay call the taxi for you.

Travel Requirements

People from South American and some European nations do not need a tourist visa for Brazil. Due to the games, anyone from USA, Canada, Australia and Japan will also be exempted from June 1st to September 18th

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State Department issues travel alert for Europe

Key points:

·        In particular, the State Department said matches and events associated with the European soccer championship (UEFA Euro 2016), hosted by France from June 10 to July 10, could represent “potential targets for terrorists.” France has extended its state of emergency through July 26, a period which also includes the Tour de France cycling race.

·        The department also said the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, which is expected to draw 2.5 million people between July 26 and 31, could pose problems. Of particular concern is the expected strain on local infrastructure from the influx of millions of people.

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Temporary visa exemption for 4 countries to begin June 1


What is the change? A temporary visa exemption for nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States will go into effect starting June 1 ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

What does the change mean? From June 1 to Sept. 18, nationals of the four countries may visit Brazil for tourist purposes without a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

  • Implementation time frame: June 1 to Sept. 18.

  • Visas/permits affected: Visa exemption.

  • Who is affected: Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.S.

  • Impact on processing times: The waiver will temporarily eliminate visa processing for affected nationals.

  • Business impact: Business activities are not permitted on the visa waiver. Anyone intending to conduct business, work, study or engage in other nontourist activities must apply for an appropriate visa at a Brazilian consulate.

Background: The government announced in January that visas would be temporarily lifted for the four countries to promote tourism before and during the Olympic Games. Eligible nationals will not need to apply for a visitor visa at a consulate and will instead have their passports stamped upon arrival. Individuals competing in the Olympics are not eligible for the visa waiver.

BAL Analysis: Travelers are reminded that the visa exemption should only be used by individuals who are traveling to Brazil for tourist purposes, not for business or other activities, and that it is valid for the period stamped in their passport and cannot be renewed.

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Infographic: How to prepare for global container weight mandate

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The Most Expensive City For Renters Will Surprise You

APRIL 21, 2016, 12:55 PM EDT

It’s not San Francisco.

It’s not London, New York, or even the reigning champion over the world’s most expensive housing market, Hong Kong.

No—the city with the least affordable rent is Beijing, where rent costs eats up roughly 123% the average salary. Smog included. Although Beijing’s nominal monthly rent is $789 on average, the ordinary worker cannot afford to live in typical housing alone, according to the study from U.K.-based nonprofit organization, Global Cities Business Alliance, since rent costs exceed their salary.

The second and third most expensive cities to live in areAbu Dhabi and Hong Kong, where rent is 70% and 64% of earnings respectively. The organization analyzed rent and income data from 15 major cities.

It’s not San Francisco.

It’s not London, New York, or even the reigning champion over the world’s most expensive housing market, Hong Kong.

No—the city with the least affordable rent is Beijing, where rent costs eats up roughly 123% the average salary. Smog included. Although Beijing’s nominal monthly rent is $789 on average, the ordinary worker cannot afford to live in typical housing alone, according to the study from U.K.-based nonprofit organization, Global Cities Business Alliance, since rent costs exceed their salary.

The second and third most expensive cities to live in areAbu Dhabi and Hong Kong, where rent is 70% and 64% of earnings respectively. The organization analyzed rent and income data from 15 major cities.

In comparison, rent in New York and San Francisco, two cities known for high housing prices, average around 63% or 51% of earnings respectively.

The rising housing costs have pushed workers in Beijing further into surrounding areas. According to the Alliance, the average Beijing worker commutes 104 minutes, round trip, for their job—making it the city with the second longest commute time behind Mexico City, where employees travel 113 minutes, in the world.

But some citizens have taken less conventional ways to deal with surging housing costs in Beijing. Some have started living in the small windowless basements of apartment buildings, or in one case, the sewers, Reuters reported.

And it’s not unwarranted. Housing prices have risen 18% in the 12 months ending March. But there are other problematic implications to the high cost of rent in Beijing. While consumers are spending the majority of their paychecks on rent, they also have far less money to spend on other goods and services, which can’t be good for a country trying to stimulate growth and transition to a consumer-based economy.

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Travelers advised over Zika virus

UNITED STATES (Feb. 4, 2016) – Travelers advised over Zika virus

The Centers for Disease Control has updated its travel advisories regarding the Zika virus in light of recent outbreaks in the Americas.

The alerts recommend that travelers take enhanced precautions when traveling to numerous countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, and Cape Verde. The list of countries where the virus has been reported can be found in the CDC notices.

On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, but did not recommend travel restrictions.

The Zika virus is transmitted to humans through infected mosquitos, and a recent Texas case confirmed that it can spread through sexual contact. The virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn child, and health authorities are investigating a connection between the virus and microcephaly in newborns, a condition that stunts brain development. 

At this time, there is no vaccine or cure for Zika. The CDC recommends that all travelers to regions where Zika has been reported protect themselves against mosquito bites, and encourages pregnant women to consider postponing travel to any area where the Zika virus is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel and women trying to become pregnant should consult their doctor before travel and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

BAL Analysis: At this time, the CDC has not raised its travel alerts to its highest level (avoid nonessential travel), but recommends that travelers take enhanced precautions when traveling to regions that have reported the virus. The CDC has posted additional information on its website.

- Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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Delays expected due to blizzard

UNITED STATES (Jan. 25, 2016) – Delays expected due to blizzard

Following a record-breaking winter storm, many U.S. government agencies, foreign embassies, consulates and other offices remain closed in the Washington, D.C. area, and services have been impacted in states from New York to North Carolina.

All applicants should anticipate delays in immigration, visa and other services, as the aftermath of the storm is also disrupting mail delivery and transportation. FedEx and UPS are both reporting significant delays in package and mail services.

In addition, as the area digs out of the snow in the coming days, government and consular offices that reopen may be operating with reduced staff due to road conditions and transportation affecting personnel who commute to those offices.

Winter Storm Jonas began Friday and dumped more than two feet of snow on the East Coast over the weekend with some areas reporting more than 40 inches. Federal and local government offices in the D.C. area remained closed Monday as did public schools in several states. Local transportation is also running on restricted schedules. Airlines canceled approximately 12,000 flights since Friday.

- Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Courtesy of

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UNITED STATES/GLOBAL (Jan. 6, 2016) – The year ahead: Immigration trends to look for in 2016

Immigration was a hot topic this year, grabbing headlines on issues ranging from the renewed focus on H-1B visas in the U.S to the Mediterranean refugee crisis reverberating in Europe.

As we begin the new year, BAL has compiled a review of changes in the past year and a preview of some of the major immigration trends to expect in the U.S. and key countries around the world in 2016.


The fate of two key provisions of President Obama’s immigration executive actions is in the hands of the Supreme Court. The actions, which would defer deportation for 5 million undocumented immigrants, remain on hold after an appeals court upheld an injunction blocking them this year. If the Court takes the case, it could issue a ruling by June.

On the business immigration side, several significant initiatives will be implemented in the coming months. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has published proposed regulations intended to provide greater flexibility and job portability for H-1B workers and other foreign employees in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas or seeking employer-sponsored green cards. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until Feb. 29, and the regulations will be implemented thereafter.

The Department of Homeland Security will also be finalizing and implementing a STEM-OPT regulation that both expands Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunities for foreign students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and imposes significant new obligations on employers. The revised regulation is the result of an ongoing lawsuit over the OPT program. A court gave DHS until Feb. 12 to issue a new regulation without disturbing the existing STEM-OPT regulation in the meantime. The agency’s request for a 90-day extension of that deadline is pending. Meanwhile, opponents continue to challenge the OPT program in a federal appeals court.

During the first half of 2015, USCIS issued a regulation allowing H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers to obtain employment authorization in the U.S. The agency also released policy guidance regarding the implementation of the Administrative Appeals Office decision Matter of Simeio Solutions, and the adjudication of L-1B petitions for employees with specialized knowledge.

Congress wrapped up the year passing a federal budget containing two immigration provisions that will have an impact in the coming year. One provision will double H-1B and L-1B visa petition fees for certain employers who are heavily reliant on H-1B and L-1B workers. The second provision contains new rules and passport requirements for foreign visitors traveling to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

A spate of bills to restrict H-1B and L-1B visas was introduced at year’s end. The bills propose to lower the H-1B cap by 15,000, set a $110,000 salary floor for H-1B workers and place new limits on H-1B and L-1B employers. While these measures may not gain traction, they are indicative of a mood toward tightening the rules for employers hiring foreign high-skilled workers.

As the 2016 presidential election approaches, immigration will likely remain at the forefront of campaign politics.

- Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Courtesy of

For details on additional countries, please continue reading here:

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Travel to European Countries in the Schengen Area (passport info reminder)


Check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to Europe.  Entry into any of the 26 European countries in the Schengen areafor short-term tourism, a business trip, or in transit to a non-Schengen destination, requires that your passport be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure.  If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes.  You could also be denied entry when you arrive in the Schengen area.  For this reason,we recommend that your passport have at least six months’validity remaining whenever you travel abroad.  You can find passport validity requirements for your destination country, along with other important information, on our Country Specific Information pages.  To ensure that your travel plans are not disrupted, plan ahead to renew your passport before traveling.  Visit our passport website for more information on applying for a new or renewal passport.

The European countries that make up the Schengen area are enforcing the requirement that short-term tourism or business visitors’ passports be valid for at least three months beyond the intended date of departure from the Schengen area, though adherence varies from country to country.  Some Schengen countries assume all travelers will stay the full three months allowed for visa-free visitors, meaning you may not be admitted unless your passport is valid for at least six months, regardless of the duration of your stay.  This requirement may also apply if you are transiting a Schengen airport for several hours en route to a non-Schengen destination. 

If you are a U.S. citizen with a valid U.S. passport traveling for tourism or business, you can apply to enter the Schengen area without a visa for a period of three months within each six-month period.  If you spend three months in the Schengen area during any six-month period, you must wait another three months before you can apply to enter the Schengen area again without a visa.  If you do not meet these conditions, or plan to stay in the Schengen area longer than three months, contact the embassy of the country where you plan to spend the majority of your time to apply for a visa. 

When you first cross any external border of the Schengen area and present your passport for entry, an immigration official will determine if you qualify for entry into the Schengen area.  You may be denied entry if the officer determines you do not qualify for entry.  When moving from one Schengen country to another, you do not need to show your passport until you exit the Schengen area.  Ensure your passport is stamped upon entry and exit.  For additional information on traveling to and within the Schengen area, see our FAQ below.

Courtesy of U.S. Department of State

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UNITED KINGDOM (May 13, 2015) – UK to roll out biometric residence permits for overseas visa applicants worldwide by July


What is the change? By the end of July, the United Kingdom will phase in all countries to its new Biometric Residence Permits procedures for overseas visa applicants.

What does the change mean? All overseas visa applicants for stays of longer than six months will be required to follow new procedures to obtain a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Applicants will receive a 30-day "travel vignette" allowing entry to the U.K and then will have 10 days upon arrival to pick up their BRP. The new process replaces the full visa stamp and allows the U.K. to meet its European Union obligations.

  • Implementation time frame: The permits are being phased in for applicants from various countries from April through July 2015.

  • Visas/permits affected: All U.K. entry categories for business, work and family travel.

  • Who is affected: Non-EEA nationals applying from overseas to stay in the U.K. for longer than six months.

  • Impact on processing times: The processing of 30-day "travel vignettes" allowing entry into the U.K. will remain in line with current consular visa processing times, but applicants must observe the strict 10-day deadline to collect the BRP on arrival in the U.K.

  • Business impact: The requirement to define a fixed travel date at the visa application stage is inflexible and may require applicants to submit repeat applications overseas if business or travel plans change. The requirement to collect the BRP within 10 days of arrival is similarly inflexible and adds an additional administrative step for migrants early on in their relocation. Corporate human resources personnel should be familiar with the new 30-day "travel vignette" when conducting right-to-work checks of employees who begin work before obtaining their BRPs, as well as the fact that they will be required to make a secondary check once the employee obtains the BRP.

  • Next steps: Global mobility personnel should review the rollout schedule for their particular country and review the new procedural rules associated with the BRP issuance.

Info and background courtesy of

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2015's Most And Least Reliable Countries To Do Business In

Are you looking for new international suppliers for your company? Or thinking about where to open an overseas office? When you evaluate your international customers, do you care about the stability of their business environment? What about government corruption? If you already have foreign offices, have you checked on the risks of natural disasters like floods and earthquakes in those locations? How sound is the infrastructure there?

For country-by-country shortcut answers to those questions, consider the “2015 FM Global Resilience Index,” a ranking of 130 countries by FM Global, the 180-year-old international commercial and industrial insurance company based in Johnston, RI. FM Global’s main business: providing loss prevention services to big companies around the globe.

FM Global puts countries through a rigorous evaluation process and produces a list of the places it deems most resilient. Landing in first place is a country that may not be at the top of your list for opening a subsidiary or factory: Norway (ExxonMobil has operated there for more than 120 years; ConocoPhillips also has longstanding oil fields there). Coming in second is a more obvious choice, given its bank secrecy laws and stable political environment: Switzerland. The Netherlands, with its healthy economy, solid infrastructure, sophisticated ports, extensive offshore wind power system, and secure dyke system, is in third place.

The U.S. doesn’t rank until 10th place and then only for a portion of the country FM Global calls Region 2, made up of 26 states in the Southwest, Midwest, and the South, plus Washington, DC., which FM Global deems safe from wind storms and earthquakes. The U.S.’s Region 1, which includes Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, is vulnerable to storms and places 16th on the list. U.S. Region 3, threatened by earthquakes, ranks in 21st place, just behind the United Kingdom and above Portugal. Region 3 includes California, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska.

Please continue on 

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Despite West Coast ports' labor deal, normality not yet on horizon

Shaming of both sides seems to have helped bring about resolution in West Coast port labor dispute
Labor dispute at West Coast ports 'wrought havoc' on the soybean industry

West Coast ports are emerging from the most contentious labor dispute in more than a decade, but lingering resentment and structural problems may complicate a return to normality.

Activity picked up Saturday at Western harbors after the dockworkers union and employers reached a tentative agreement late Friday on a new five-year contract that will cover 20,000 workers at 29 ports.

The resolution followed months of difficult negotiations that contributed to an extended slowdown at the docks. Cargo was stranded, disrupting operations for Central Valley citrus growers, Midwest auto factories, McDonald's restaurants in Japan and many other businesses.

The ordeal darkened public perception of major trade portals such as the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, which together process 40% of the nation's incoming container cargo. Experts said that members of the Pacific Maritime Assn. — large shipping lines and port terminal operators — and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have a hard fight ahead to win back respect and lost customers.

"I think the parties have an understanding of the impact of this disruption," U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in an interview. "They understand that they not only have to restore service, they have to restore confidence."

Perez was dispatched by President Obama to meet with employers and the union last week and urge settlement on a new contract. A few months after the last contract expired in July, activity at the ports began to dramatically slow and each side blamed the other.

Shaming appears to have been among the tactics used to encourage a resolution.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined the talks and told negotiators that they were wasting time with internal squabbles as competition loomed from ports in Mexico and the opening of a widened Panama Canal due next year.

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Vessels backing up at an alarming rate on the West Coast

 | Jan 28, 2015 9:21PM EST

Vessels are backing up at an alarming rate at West Coast ports due to congested marine terminals and work slowdowns by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported Wednesday that 17 container ships were at anchor and awaiting berths in Los Angeles-Long Beach. Oakland reported that five container ships were at anchor, and Tacoma reported six at anchor.

This is a dangerous condition because vessel backlogs upset the weekly scheduled sailings from Asia to the West Coast, and that has a cascading effect throughout the market. The Paris-based consultancy Alphaliner reported this week that vessels have been thrown off schedule by as many as three weeks, forcing carriers to add 36 additional ships to their trans-Pacific rotations to the West Coast. Furthermore, some carriers are running “extra-loaders” on all-water services to the East Coast. These unscheduled, single-voyage vessels carry cargo that would otherwise have moved through the West Coast.

Port congestion on the West Coast has been building since last summer, and Alphaliner said that it is now the “worst-ever case of U.S. port congestion on record,” an observation that’s hard to argue with.

Meanwhile, contract negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association are on-going and were continuing all day on Wednesday, said ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees. Negotiations began on May 12, 2014. The ILWU has been working without a contract since the previous agreement expired on July 1.

West Coast ports have struggled with mounting congestion since last summer. A number of factors contributed to the problem, including big ships operated by carrier alliances that generate huge container volumes in a single vessel call. In Los Angeles-Long Beach, the largest vessels generate as many as 10,000 container moves per call. Since the vessels carry containers from as many as six different carriers, the containers are spread out over multiple terminals, creating a logistical nightmare for truckers and equipment providers. Chassis shortages and dislocations and service issues on the transcontinental rail networks compounded the congestion problems.

Port congestion deteriorated rapidly at the end of October when the ILWU implemented work slowdowns in Seattle-Tacoma and Oakland. The PMA said the slowdowns were orchestrated by the union to exert leverage in the contract negotiations. In Los Angeles-Long Beach, the ILWU cut down the daily dispatch of skilled yard crane operators from 110 to 35, bringing the largest U.S. port complex to near gridlock, the PMA has stated.

The ILWU blames the gridlock and backlog of vessels at anchor on two issues -- pre-existing port congestion since last summer and a decision by employers late last year to suspend all night shifts at Seattle, Tacoma and Oakland, and to suspend vessel unloading (but not yard and gate operations) on the night shifts in Los Angeles-Long Beach.

The PMA said that since terminals in Southern California are operating at 95 to 97 percent of capacity, employers decided to suspend vessel unloading on the night shifts in order to clear out some of the container backlog in the yards to make room for containers to be discharged on the next morning when vessel unloading resumed.

Contract negotiations in San Francisco have been held under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service since Jan. 6. A possibly significant breakthrough was made on Monday when the PMA confirmed that a tentative agreement had been reached on the issue of ILWU jurisdiction over container maintenance and repair. That issue had been holding up the negotiations since the beginning of the year.

However, other issues such as wages, pensions and the length of the new contract must still be resolved.

The congestion is also showing up in diversion of cargo to ports in Canada and on the U.S. East Coast. Container volume in Los Angeles-Long Beach declined 1 percent in December compared to December 2013, while East Coast gateways as well as Prince Rupert, Canada, were reporting double-digit growth.

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GLOBAL: Muslim holiday will delay processing in many countries

What is the change? Around the beginning of October, countries with majority or large Muslim populations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia will shut down for periods ranging from two to nine days in observance of Eid al-Adha.

What does the change mean? Companies and foreign nationals seeking government services should submit applications now to avoid delays caused by the holiday break.

  • Implementation timeframe: Approximately Oct. 5-9, dates to be confirmed.
  • Visas/permits affected: All work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for work permits, renewals and other immigration and labor-related services.
  • Impact on processing times: The break will cause a delay of up to one week, depending on local holiday schedules.
  • Next steps: Companies and applicants should factor the holiday period into business timelines and file as early as possible before the first week of October.

Background: Holiday schedules will vary by region and country. The United Arab Emirates announced its public sector will close approximately Oct. 5-9, although precise dates have not been announced.

Several countries in Asia, including Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, where the holiday is also called Hari Raya Haji, have announced government closures on Oct. 6. India’s Foreigners Regional Registration Offices in Mumbai and Delhi will be closed Oct. 2-6.

Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” is a Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It also commemorates the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ismail in an act of obedience to God (Allah). Some countries do not confirm the exact dates until the lunar moon is sighted. The holiday, which falls on the 10th day of the lunar month, is expected to fall on Oct. 4 or 5. Other countries use astronomical calculations and fix the date in advance.

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Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken

from US Passports & International Travel - US Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs

The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) is still performing below its normal operational capacity. However, to give you an idea of the progress we have made, since July 20, our embassies and consulates have printed close to 250,000 nonimmigrant visas globally. Based on our average production figures, we would have anticipated issuing closer to 480,000 nonimmigrant visas in that time period, indicating we have been able to print documents for just over half of all approved travelers.

It will take some weeks before we are back to normal turnaround times on issued visas.

We continue to prioritize immigrant visas, adoption cases, and emergency nonimmigrant visa cases. We are printing visas for these cases with very few delays.

Nearly all passports are being issued within our customer service standards, despite the system problems. We are issuing passports for emergency travel without delay.  

More details and FAQs

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Typhoon Rammasun (Glenda) Leaves the Philippines; Warnings Issued for South China

Published: Jul 16, 2014, 7:20 AM EDT

Forecast Path

Deadly Typhoon Rammasun has its sights set on South China and northern Vietnam after ripping through the Philippines Tuesday and Wednesday. Even as the typhoon lashed the Philippine capital with wind and rain, Chinese authorities issued early warnings for its southernmost coastlines.

Typhoon Rammasun (also known as Glenda in the Philippines) made its first landfall in the Philippines Tuesday while intensifying. The typhoon is now churning across the South China Sea heading toward parts of China and Vietnam.

The worst of Rammasun's winds appear to have passed just south of the Philippine capital.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday in the U.S., maximum sustained winds had decreased to an estimated 90 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This made Rammasun the equivalent of a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

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West Coast port labor talks resume today

Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, July 11, 2014

LOS ANGELES — A strike by some truck drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has added a bit of drama this week to contract talks between West Coast dockworkers and terminal operators, but reports indicate all West Coast ports are continuing to operate even though the dockworkers’ latest labor contract expired July 1.

Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Assn. are scheduled to resume today following a three-day break to allow union officials to attend unrelated contract negotiations in the Pacific Northwest.

The truck drivers’ strike, which began Monday at four shipping terminals, briefly shut down the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports when ILWU members refused to cross the truckers’ picket lines. However, longshoremen returned to work after only a few hours off the job when an arbitrator ruled the dockworkers’ contract didn’t allow them to engage in a sympathy strike, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The truckers, who are not represented by the ILWU, claim they are illegally classified as independent contractors and not employees — a designation that means employers don’t have to pay Social Security taxes and unemployment insurance premiums for them, among other things.

Gene Winters, president of Global Link Logistics, said the truckers strike has not affected his company’s operations, but said the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports continue to be very congested because of increased shipments leading up to the ILWU contract expiration and a shortage of chassis.

“All carriers are experiencing chassis shortages at the port, and you can’t pick up a container without a chassis,” said Winters, whose company has numerous furniture industry customers.

The labor contract covers more than 14,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports. Both sides have pledged to continue talks without a work stoppage.

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Labor talks for U.S. West Coast ports to continue despite end of deal

LOS ANGELES Tue Jul 1, 2014 11:18pm EDT

(Reuters) - Labor negotiations between operators of West Coast port terminals and the union representing nearly 20,000 dock workers will continue, even though a six-year labor agreement expired on Tuesday, both sides said.

Labor talks at West Coast ports typically extend beyond the contract expiration date, but retailers had expressed nervousness at the impending expiration of the contract.

Officials from both the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the port employers, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents dock workers, have said they do not anticipate labor disruptions.

"While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union," the two organizations said in a joint statement.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation in a recent report estimated a 10-day work stoppage at West Coast ports would cost the U.S. economy $2.1 billion a day and result in the loss of 169,000 jobs.

The talks involve 29 ports along the length of the U.S. West Coast, including major hubs in Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California and Seattle and Tacoma in Washington state.

Key issues in the talks have included rising healthcare costs and the use of outside contract labor.

Article from Reuters


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Labour Disruption At West Coast Ports, Retailers Worried as Economy On Stake

Canada’s biggest port was slowed to a crawl when truck drivers went on strike for 28 days in March and union spokesman Gavin McGarrigle said they are now having difficulties getting trucking companies to comply with measures in the resolution.

However it’s not just the Canadian ports facing the heat. A new study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and National Retail Federation (NRF) in the US by economists at the Interindustry Forecasting Project at the University of Maryland brought under the spotlight the economic harm that could result from a labour disruption at US ports.

The west coast ports are America’s gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with Asia and beyond and are also under the influence of labor unrest and even violence.

As negotiations continue for a new contract agreement covering 13,600 dockworkers at 30 ports stretching from San Diego, Calif., to Bellingham, Wash., the study shows the U.S. economy could lose as much as $2.5 billion a day if a prolonged West Coast port shutdown occurs.

The current labor contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Association Union (ILWU) and port operators along the U.S. West Coast is set to expire on June 30, 2014.

“A protracted dispute between the negotiating parties could lead to reduced or shuttered terminal operations for an extended period,” the study warned. “If such disruptions occur, the economic impact would be significant and widespread.”

Full article from Wall Street OTC

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Billions at risk as West Coast port contract ends

Associated Press

The West Coast ports that are America's gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with Asia and beyond are no stranger to labor unrest and even violence.

Now, the contract that covers nearly 20,000 dockworkers is set to expire, and businesses that trade in everything from apples to iPhones are worried about disruptions just as the crush of cargo for the back-to-school and holiday seasons begins.

With contentious issues including benefits and job security on the table, smooth sailing is no guarantee.

On one side is the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with its tradition of fierce activism dating to the Great Depression, when two of its members were killed during a strike. On the other is the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and operators of terminals at 29 West Coast ports.

Both acknowledge that they are unlikely to agree on a new contract before the current one expires June 30, but they plan to negotiate past that deadline. That would fit the pattern from contract talks in 2008 and 2002. In 2002, negotiators didn't reach an agreement until around Thanksgiving, following an impasse that led to a 10-day lockout and a big disruption in trade.

The union's total control over the labor pool means huge bargaining leverage, which negotiators have parlayed into white-collar wages and perks for blue-collar work. A full-time longshoreman earns about $130,000 a year, while foremen earn about $210,000, according to employer data. Workers pay nearly nothing for health coverage that includes no premiums and $1 prescriptions.

Neither side has publicly discussed progress on negotiations that began May 12 in San Francisco, which is headquarters to the union and the maritime association.


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U.S. expats find their money is no longer welcome at the bank

By Geoff Williams

(Reuters) - Imagine being excluded from the financial services industry because of your passport.

That happened to Carrie Walczak, an American living in Germany, in May. She received a letter from Deutsche Bank [DBKGSG.UL] informing her that her bank account was going to be closed because she is an American.

Walczak, a 37-year-old from upstate New York, lived in Brussels for seven years with her Belgian husband before moving to Bad Homburg, Germany, where she has resided for the past 18 months. Walczak says the letter informed her of new tax regulations required by the U.S. government, and because of that she is being dropped as a customer.

She says that a second bank account, from a financial institution based in Brussels, remains open -- but only because she signed two documents allowing the bank to disclose all of her banking information to the IRS. She has a third bank, based in Germany, which hasn't sent any letters to her.

"So that seems safe for now," Walczak says, admitting that she is rattled. "The problem is that to get paid and to have a normal life, one does need a bank account. If eventually other or all banks follow Deutsche Bank's lead, it could make my life very difficult."

Not to mention for all American expats, who number between 5 million and 6 million. In 2010, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) became law in the United States, making it harder for American taxpayers to hide assets. 

Foreign banks and other financial institutions are required to give information to the Internal Revenue Service about Americans' accounts worth more than $50,000. There is a slight reprieve - in 2014 and 2015 the law is in a "transitional period," with the IRS not taking punitive measures if a bank appears to be making a good-faith effort to comply.

Many of the account-closing complaints are coming from Americans living in Switzerland, according to David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, headquartered in Hong Kong.

That is due to Switzerland's banking troubles in recent years. In 2009, UBS paid a $780 million fine to the IRS for helping American taxpayers hide money abroad. In May, Credit Suisse was fined $1.2 billion for similar charges.

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Dockworker strike in Brazil postponed

| Jun 10, 2014 11:17AM EDT

A nationwide dockworker strike planned to begin today in Brazil has been postponed, according to maritime service provider Inchcape Shipping Services.

Inchcape’s local Brazil office received notification from the Union of Shipping Companies that the stevedores’ strike, organized by the Union of Stevedores, has been postponed until June 27 at 10 a.m. local time, after the federal government agreed to discuss the workers’ list of demands.

The strike is expected to affect stevedore operations in all ports across Brazil for an indefinite period and is predicted to cause considerable delays with cargo operations unless a resolution can be reached with the Brazilian government, ISS said.

A source previously speculated that the stevedores would begin striking on June 10 to take advantage of the opportunity to attract worldwide attention, as the FIFA World Cup is set to begin two days later on June 12. With the strike now potentially set to begin June 27, the workers may still attract worldwide attention, as the games are scheduled to conclude on July 13. The source said the strike is likely not directly associated with the ongoing public demonstrations against the World Cup, but rather associated with general labor issues in Brazil.


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Dockworkers plan June 10 start to strike in Brazil

| Jun 06, 2014 1:55PM EDT        

A nationwide dockworker strike is planned to begin on June 10 in Brazil, according to maritime services provider Inchcape Shipping Services.

The strike, organized by the Union of Stevedores, is expected to affect stevedore operations in all ports across Brazil for an indefinite period and is predicted to cause considerable delays with cargo operations unless an early resolution can be reached with the Brazilian government, ISS said.

A source speculated that the stevedores will begin striking on June 10 to take advantage of the opportunity to attract worldwide attention, as the FIFA World Cup is set to begin two days later on June 12. The source said the strike is likely not directly associated with the ongoing public demonstrations against the World Cup, but rather associated with general labor issues in Brazil.

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Chile Earthquake: Deadly Magnitude-8.2 Temblor Rocks Coast

massive earthquake struck off the coast of Chile late Tuesday killing at least six people, triggering a six-foot tsunami and sending 900,000 fleeing to "safe zones."

The magnitude-8.2 temblor struck roughly 62 miles northwest of the port city of Iquique and was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A tsunami advisory was issued for Hawaii. Officials warned that "dangerous ocean currents" and "weird tides" were likely until around 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday (2 p.m. ET). "Thankfully there is no destructive tsunami," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told NBC station KHNL.

The tremors triggered landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and caused fires that destroyed several businesses.

Most of the victims were killed by falling debris or heart attacks, Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said.

President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency in the region and said the extent of damage couldn't be fully assessed before daybreak.

Psychiatrist Ricardo Yevenes said he was with a patient when the magnitude-8.2 quake hit. "It quickly began to move the entire office, things were falling," he told local television. "Almost the whole city is in darkness."

Photos showed Chileans calmly evacuating coastal areas on foot, with police officers helping bundled-up elderly people and some residents loading up vehicles with their belongings.

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Gulftainer’s UAE Terminal Ranked No. 1 Port in EMEA

Jan 15, 2014

Sharjah, UAE– January 15, 2014: Gulftainer, the world’s largest privately-owned independent port management and logistics company, based in Sharjah, UAE, increased its market dominance in 2013 by serving and controlling one-fifth of total containerised trade in the GCC region. The significant milestone was achieved as a result of streamlined operations and commercial efforts supported by high productivity, quick turnaround time and efficient customer support.

This achievement is further underscored in a global port productivity report recently published by the Journal of Commerce in the USA, which ranks Gulftainer’s Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT) as the top performing port facility in Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The report ranks leading ports based on a set of strict criteria and measurement principles and looked at 63,500 ship calls at major ports around the world. KCT was also recognised as one of the top three productive port operations globally.

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Weakened Typhoon Hits Vietnam After Devastating Central Philippines, Heads for China

Mike King, Special Correspondent | Nov 11, 2013 9:23AM EST 

People walk among debris next to a ship washed ashore in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan at Anibong in Tacloban, the Philippines on Nov. 11, 2013. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

More than 10,000 people are feared dead after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) caused widespread devastation in the central Philippines on Friday and Saturday.

In the worst affected areas, communications systems have been wiped out; roads, ports and airports remain closed, and hundreds of thousands of displaced people are struggling to find clean water, food and shelter.

Lufthansa has lent its hand to the relief effort by sending 25 tons of aid free of charge on one of its wide-body jets to Manila to speed up delivery of emergency supplies to affected areas. “In catastrophes, every hour counts in the provision of aid and the logistics are paramount,” said Karl Ulrich Garnadt, Lufthansa Cargo Chairman.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., has announced plans to make a donation of US$30,000 to aid those affected by the typhoon in the PhilippinesThe main portion of its donation will go to those on the island of Leyte, through the group company Magsaysay MOL Marine, Inc., a Manila-based seafarer manning company founded in 1997 as a joint venture with Magsaysay Maritime Corp. MOL said it is planning other relief efforts as the situation unfolds.


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London Gateway to Open for Business on Nov. 6

London Gateway, the first major new port to be built in the U.K. for several decades, will open for business on the north bank of the River Thames on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The arrival of the MOL Caledon, a 5,000-TEU container ship operated by Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in a joint, weekly Europe-to-South Africa service, will launch a fierce battle for cargo with Felixstowe, the U.K.’s largest container port further up the east coast.

The $2.4 billion deep water terminal, located 24 miles east of downtown London, will handle the MOL Caledon at its first berth, which will be followed by a second in April and a third by the end of 2014.

London Gateway, which is owned by DP World, will have an initial annual capacity of 1.5 million 20-foot-equivalent units.

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Port operations resume as workers temporarily end strike

The three-day strike that paralyzed the port of Baltimore is over — for now.

Striking longshoremen agreed late Friday to resume working on the docks during a 90-day "cooling-off period" while negotiations continue on a new local contract.

Work on some ships had resumed earlier in the day after an arbitrator ordered them back on the job to load and unload container ships. Now that the union has voluntarily agreed to suspend the strike, its members also will resume work on the auto carriers so critical to the port, which has become the nation's No. 1 vehicle handler.

Observers saw the 90-day "cooling off period" as significant progress, though they noted that the two sides have not come to a fundamental agreement about several outstanding issues.

"We're unloading everything coming into the port of Baltimore," said Aaron Barnett, vice president of International Longshoremen's Association Local 333. "We've put all of our people back to work."

The 3-day-old strike had presented a significant challenge to East Coast shipping. At least one ship — the CCNI Antofagasta — sailed from Baltimore to Charleston, S.C., without unloading its cargo, even as other cargo ships waited. Automakers watched negotiations closely, wondering whether to implement contingency plans to divert vehicles to other ports.

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China smog emergency shuts city of 11 million people

Air pollution in the city of Harbin in northeastern China has forced officials to close the airport, cancel some public bus routes and suspend some school classes.

BEIJING — Choking smog all but shut down one of northeastern China's largest cities on Monday, forcing schools to suspended classes, snarling traffic and closing the airport, in the country's first major air pollution crisis of the winter.

An index measuring PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), reached a reading of 1,000 in some parts of Harbin, the gritty capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province and home to some 11 million people.

A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

The smog not only forced all primary and middle schools to suspend classes, but shut the airport and some public bus routes, the official Xinhua news agency reported, blaming the emergency on the first day of the heating being turned on in the city for winter. Visibility was reportedly reduced to 10 meters.

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What a Partial US Government Shutdown Means for Shippers

Mark Szakonyi, Associate Editor | Sep 30, 2013 12:12PM EDT    

WASHINGTON — Shippers shouldn’t expect any delays in the clearance of cargo at ports of entry, nor will highway, road and bridge construction cease, if the federal government partially shuts down because of a fight over President Obama’s health care law.

But the potential shutdown, which would be the first in 17 years, would hurt economic growth, presenting new hurdles to shippers and transportation providers already grappling with a slow recovery since the 2008-09 recession. A shutdown lasting a few days could cost the U.S. economy 0.2 percent of annualized growth in the last three months of the year, while a shutdown lasting three to four weeks could take a 1.4 percentage point bite out of fourth quarter GDP, Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody Analytics, told CNN.

The larger risk is that investors’ nerves become more frazzled because of the shutdown, causing them to demand higher interest rates when the U.S. Treasury asks for $120 billion in loans on Oct. 17, according to The Washington Post. That would cause rates to jump, “leading to more expensive mortages, auto loans and credit card bills.” Ultimately, the impasse could reduce U.S. companies’ confidence to spend the cash they’ve been hoarding since the recession.

Aside from the potential negative economic impact of the shutdown, the effectiveness of the government will be severely restricted, Bruce Carlton, president and CEO of the National Industrial Transportation League, said in a statement. The potential shutdown and sequestration will force “federal managers to run multibillion dollar programs on consistently more constrained short run timetables,” he said.

“If you or your company were forced to procure essential products or services on an inconsistently applied and unpredictable one month or three month basis, what would be the impact on the price you paid?” Carlton said. “That’s the reality of ‘managing’ the federal budget on the mindless direction of continuing resolutions and across-the-board sequesters.”

In the short term, however, the impact on shippers will be minimal. Customs and Border Protection agents will continue to clear cargo, and air traffic controllers will keep manning the towers. Spending tied to trust funds — including the Highway Trust Fund, Inland Waterway Trust Fund and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund — will continue.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Shutdown

  • By Rebecca Ballhaus

Here, we tell you what to expect from a partial temporary shutdown, drawing on government agencies’ plans and information from the last time the government shut down in 1995 and 1996.

We will update this list as more information becomes available.

How will travel and transportation be affected?

Air traffic control will continue, in addition to airport and airplane safety inspections. All Federal Highway Administration activities will also continue.

According to the Department of Transportation’s contingency plan released Friday, the agency will furlough 18,481 of its 55,468 employees.

Amtrak trains will continue to run.

In the 1995-96 shutdowns, about 20,000-30,000 foreign applications for visas went unprocessed every day, and 200,000 U.S. applications for passports weren’t processed, according to the Congressional Research Service report. These delays reportedly cost U.S. tourist industries and airlines millions of dollars.

Will I be able to get a passport?

Travelers will still be able to apply for passports, since consular operations will “remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations,” according to plans released Friday. Complications could arise if a passport agency is located in a government building closed by the shutdown, but the under secretary for management will treat those on a “case-by-case basis,” according to the plan.

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1.  Luanda, Angola

2.  Moscow, Russia

3.  Tokyo, Japan

4.  N'Djamena, Chad

5.  Singapore

6.  Hong Kong

7.  Geneva, Switzerland

8.  Zurich, Switzerland

9.  Bern, Switzerland

10.  Sydney, Australia

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Singapore air pollution hits record high

Associated Press in Singapore

Air pollution in Singapore has soared to a record high for a third consecutive day, as Indonesia prepares to send planes and helicopters to battle the fires blamed for hazardous levels of smoky haze in three countries.

The blazes in peat swamp forests on Indonesia's Sumatra island have sent huge plumes of smog across the sea to neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia, both of which are growing impatient with Indonesia's response to the problem that occurs nearly every year.

Singapore is suffering its worst haze in history. Its main index for air pollution hit a measurement of 401 at midday on Friday, exceeding record highs of 371 on Thursday, and 321 on Wednesday. Those measurements were classified as hazardous and could aggravate respiratory ailments.

Plagued by the stifling smell of burning vegetation that wafted into homes and offices in the city-state, residents flocked to pharmacies to buy protective face masks after Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, urged people to remain indoors.


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Foreigners will need a non-criminal record certificate to work in Beijing

Monday, June 17, 2013 | By: Weijing Zhu

In addition to the new visa regulations that will take effect in July, foreigners who work in Beijing will also need to prepare criminal record clearances to receive work authorizations. Applicants will have to provide a “police clearance certificate” (non-criminal record) from their country to apply for work permits. The same applies to foreigners in China who transfer to work in Beijing. KTA elaborates on the details regarding this new regulation:“The certificate must be issued by the relevant public security or judicial authority in the applicant’s country of nationality, and must show that the applicant has no criminal record from the age of 18 through the present. The certificate must be legalized by a Chinese diplomatic post in the country of issuance. The Beijing Labor Bureau has not provided guidance with respect to applicants who reside in a country other than their country of nationality, except to advise that the regulations are still in development. The certificate will be required during the first stage of the application process. For standard work permit applications, it will be required when the employment license application is filed. For applications sponsored by a representative office of a foreign company, the certificate will be required when the work permit application is filed, as employment licenses are not required in these cases. “KTA goes on to say that Beijing is the first city in China to require this certificate, but it is unclear whether other cities will follow. If you are working or planning to work in Beijing, perhaps you should start looking up ways to obtain a (non)criminal record from your country, and figure out how to get it notarized by your embassy after you receive it.

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Melting sea ice opens up faster freighter route

McClatchy Newspapers

Published Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012

WASHINGTON – In a twist to the debate over global warming, melting Arctic sea ice is making it easier to transport the fossil fuels that produce the planet-warming gases, which appear to be causing it to thaw in the first place.

As a result, a record number of tankers have gained access to an emerging shipping route, creating a potential industrial boon in the remote Arctic.

The increasingly ice-free route runs from Europe to Asian markets through the Bering Strait, which divides Alaska and Russia. It can be 40 percent shorter than the southern alternative of shipping through the Suez Canal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to turn it into one of the world's "key trade routes of international significance in scale," as Russia moves to export Arctic oil and gas to China and other hungry economies in the Far East.

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