Port troubles leave UK booksellers with no books


A UK book publisher says congestion at Felixstowe Port has left it with no books to sell in the lead up to Christmas.

Colin Hoad and Matt Green run a publishing company, Idesine, which has 4,000 books stuck on a ship that has been trying to dock since 31 October.

They are one of many businesses encountering problems importing goods.

Importers say congestion issues at UK ports have led to shipping firms quadrupling their freight costs.

“People are contacting us saying they’ve paid for books on pre-order as gifts, and we ultimately can’t guarantee delivery,” Mr Hoad said.

Delays at Felixstowe have been caused by a surge in import traffic as companies increased orders after the initial lockdown and some looked to stockpile goods before the end of the Brexit transition period.

The pandemic has made matters worse as large orders of PPE added to the backlog of containers on the quayside.

The port’s owner, Hutchison UK, has said it is in the process of recruiting an additional 104 equipment drivers plus a number of engineers to help solve the problem.

But congestion at England’s ports is now so bad, some shipping firms have limited the amount of cargo they will bring to the UK.

One of the world’s biggest shipping lines, CMA CGM, told the BBC it was allocating less space on its fleet for UK imports for the time being.

“UK ports are currently experiencing yard and port congestion mostly in Felixstowe, and in London Gateway and Southampton to a lesser extent,” said a spokeswoman for CMA CGM Group.

“We are controlling import volumes while maximising empty container evacuation wherever possible.”

Empty containers waiting to be shipped back to Asia are causing traffic jams at ports across Europe and North America. That could have knock-on effects for companies’ Christmas orders, said Peter Wilson, managing director of the UK freight forwarder Cory Brothers.

“We are already seeing that goods due by Christmas… are very unlikely to arrive because they’re in their origin ports, waiting for containers,” he said.

Causing even further headaches for importers, shipping companies have sharply increased freight prices in response to the congestion at UK ports – some by as much as 300%.

“What the lines are trying to do is to dissuade people sending stuff to the UK,” said Alan Joseph, operations director of The Cotswold Company, which imports some of its wooden furniture from Asia.

This week, a freight company quoted a price of $8,000 to transport a 40ft container from Asia to the UK.

“At the end of September, market rates were less than a quarter of that, at $1,700 per unit,” Mr Joseph said.

He added that while individual businesses will negotiate unique import costs based on the volume of goods they want to move, at the moment, prices are increasing across the board. And there are few alternatives for businesses whose goods are manufactured overseas.

“Airlines are not moving as much cargo because there are fewer passenger flights. The railway from China to Germany is now quoting rates in excess of $10,000 per container – which is not much of an option.”

He said two other shipping firms are now refusing bookings for importing refrigerated containers to the UK.

“It’s a worrying sign that big shipping lines are drastically reducing UK volumes because so much of the imports in the UK arrive through our ports, and if there’s less coming there are less supplies of everything that gets imported.”

Importing stock is also becoming increasingly difficult for Joe Burgwin, who is head of supply chain at the garden furniture firm Supremo Leisure, based in Telford. The business has been booming recently as the virus led to people spending more on their outdoor spaces.

“Previously for us, shipping cost $1,400-$1,500 tops per 40ft unit, which was manageable,” he said.

“Now in negotiations with freight companies, prices have more than doubled and there are fears it could move even higher. We’re predicting this to last until at least January, which makes business planning pretty challenging.”

‘Incredibly frustrating’

The ship carrying books belonging to publisher Idesine was originally supposed to dock at Felixstowe at the end of October, but the port was too busy so it was diverted to Europe.

Since Saturday, the ship has been moored outside Felixstowe waiting for a berthing slot.

After launching the company in June, Matt Green now has 2,500 pre-paid orders waiting to be delivered.

“It’s incredibly frustrating that we can’t get the book into our customers’ hands,” he said. “We just hope that we can do it before Christmas.”

Shipping analysts say ports across the world are battling to manage the surging demand for imports, and Felixstowe has struggled to cope.

“At the moment, the port has become a bottleneck because other elements of the supply chain have got out of balance,” said Eleanor Hadland, a ports analyst at the maritime consultancy Drewry.

She said getting a berthing slot at Felixstowe “is like trying to get a Tesco delivery in the beginning of lockdown”.

“Partly that’s because of Covid, partly Brexit preparation and a lot of external factors which have resulted in ports reporting congestion. But Felixstowe could have dealt better with these external challenges,” she said.

Hutchison UK has warned congestion at Felixstowe Port could continue into the new year.





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Biden presidency would calm but not cure trade troubles with U.S., business groups warn


Article content continued

In addition to committing billions of dollars to federal purchases of American products, materials and services, the platform promises to bring critical supply chains back to the U.S.

“Canada needs to make the case for the role we play in America’s economic security, and why North America should be treated as a region when thinking about supply-chain security,” Agnew said.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said Canadian businesses should undoubtedly expect warmer Canada-U.S. relations under a Biden presidency, with fewer erratic trade policy and fewer issues “popping up in the middle of the night” than during the past four years.

However, he too cautioned about protectionism and the need for Ottawa to prepare for continued trade skirmishes.

“With a growing protectionist sentiment in the U.S. across both parties, Canadian firms will need our government to work hard to keep access to the U.S. market (as) open as possible,” he said.

Canadian firms will need our government to work hard to keep access to the U.S. market (as) open as possible

Dan Kelly, CFIB

Still, the head of the association representing Canada’s aluminum industry — which was twice hit with tariffs by the Trump administration — expected less “volatility” if Biden becomes president.

“It certainly will be a shift from confrontation to collaboration, in terms of attitude,” said Jean Simard, chief executive of the Aluminum Association of Canada.

He said Biden, who served as vice-president under former U.S. president Barack Obama, has been public about his belief in multi-lateralism and “working with allied countries on shared undertakings.”



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Dylan Grimes almost left Richmond Tigers hub because of business troubles


“I haven’t told anyone this but I packed that light coming up here because Elisha, my wife, was in Melbourne … we were copping a lot of heat, Richmond players maybe thinking about not coming into the hub,” Grimes told The Sunday Footy Show.

“I thought ‘I don’t wanna add to that so I will come up for two weeks, I’ll do the two weeks and then I am going to have to come back’.

“The business, the farm, there was so much going on for us personally given COVID and everything.

“We had staff we were trying to pay throughout this time, it was really tough.

“I thought in my mind ‘I am going to be here for two weeks and then I am going to be coming straight back.'”

Grimes stayed because “a couple of weeks in, the mateship and the bond that just grew [helped], it was really tough the first couple of weeks”.

Grimes at his winery in 2017.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Given star defender Alex Rance retired before the season and David Astubry missed most of the season through injury, Grimes was absolutely crucial to the Tigers’ top-four finish with his sublime defensive efforts alongside Noah Balta and Nick Vlastuin.

Had he missed a chunk of games because of going back to Victoria, it is conceivable Richmond may not have finished in the top four.

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Grimes also spoke about how controversies that dogged the Tigers this season – including the Coleman-Jones and Stack hub breach, Tom Lynch’s ill-discipline, the team’s 50-metre penalty problem, the hub breach by Trent Cotchin’s wife and Damien Hardwick’s comments about former Melbourne player David Schwarz – made him question the club’s culture.

“We had mistakes up here and that really cut you because we are a proud club,” he said.

“We felt like we built a really strong culture but I can see from the outside it didn’t look like that.

“You think ‘oh man, do we have it right? Is this right? Are we doing the right thing as leaders, as older players?’

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“We had faith that maybe these are a couple of isolated incidents, maybe we are as strong as we think we are.

“I think every challenge we had we kept coming closer and closer and we felt like we had grown through everything.

“In the days after the incident where the guys [Stack and Coleman-Jones] left the hub, a lot of us were at rock bottom there.

“We felt as a playing group and as a club we’d been challenged.

“It was a moment for us where we had to galvanise.”

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Up(load) the RA – The Troubles go from H-block to TikTok | Britain


FEW BUSINESSES can be more certain of success than a paint shop in Belfast. Locals on both sides of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide love the stuff. Two decades after the “Troubles”, a bloody conflict that ran from 1968-98, the colours of kerbstones and murals are still as useful to passers-by as any map: plenty of green in nationalist areas; lots of red, white and blue in unionist ones. The culture war, at least, goes on.

A new generation, though, has less need of brushes. The children of the ceasefire have TikTok, an app for sharing short videos. There, alongside films of cute puppies and dance moves, are youngsters honouring the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which led a bombing campaign for a united Ireland. One user, in camo and a balaclava, offers an “IRA outfit tutorial”. Another impersonates Bobby Sands, a republican prisoner who starved himself to death in 1981.

The videos mix TikTok staples like strobing lights and quickfire dance routines with tropes more familiar to previous generations of republican propagandists. Rebel songs provide the soundtrack. “There’s a strange mixture of the very local and the international language of TikTok,” says Duncan Morrow of Ulster University.

Some TikTokers are earnest republicans or loyalists. One, an 18-year-old from England who started posting clips during the covid-19 lockdown, proudly recalls her father’s deployment to the province with the British army. Others are Americans with little knowledge of the Troubles, who see similarities between the republican cause and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The fact that such videos find a keen audience hardly presages a return to violence. On the whole, young people in Northern Ireland are much less likely to hold sectarian attitudes than their parents. “These people are behaving like old people,” reckons Peter Shirlow of Liverpool University. “They’re out of step.”

Sometimes the clips are not even taken seriously by those who make them. Many are intended as entertainment, not propaganda, shot by history buffs who would never dream of toting an Armalite. “IrishCasual”, an 18-year-old from the Irish Republic, is at pains to point out that he has English friends. He distances himself from “extremists” who record videos in IRA clobber. His clips, he claims, are educational and fun: “It is TikTok, so you need to bring a bit of comedy.” Whenever he runs out of ideas, he falls back on a meme that will run and run. He will keep dancing, his videos boast, until there is a united Ireland.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Up(load) the RA”

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French government: remaining vigilant over troubles in Paris suburbs




FILE PHOTO: French Government’s spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye attends a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France April 15, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron announced extension to France’s nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 disease until May 11. Michel Euler/Pool via REUTERS

April 22, 2020

PARIS (Reuters) – The French government will be “extremely vigilant” over this week’s violence in suburbs around Paris, even though it believes the unrest to be of a relatively low level, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye told a news briefing on Wednesday.

“At this stage, we consider the unrest to still be of low intensity. It is localised and limited, and therefore as of today, there is no real cause for alarm but we will remain extremely vigilant,” she said.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Myriam Rivet)





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