THE WEEK

THE WEEK

Zoellick Defends Bilateral Agreements: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick defended Washington's pursuit of bilateral trade agreements even as 34 Western Hemisphere nations opened debate on the structure of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement. Zoellick spoke after meeting with the leaders of five Central American countries to discuss December's scheduled final round of negotiations for the Central America Free Trade Agreement. Zoellick said smaller, regional agreements will help promote larger trade agreements such as the FTAA.

Senators Praise Loy Nomination: James M. Loy, nominated to be the No. 2 official at the Department of Homeland Security, received bipartisan support at his confirmation hearing last week by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Loy, who has served two years as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, was nominated by President Bush to be deputy secretary of homeland security under Tom Ridge. Loy came to the TSA from the Coast Guard. He told the committee that priorities include information analysis and sharing, assessing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and taking a methodical approach to risk management. He said the TSA is still grappling with the "sticker shock" of the cost of transportation security. He admitted that the TSA has faced challenges in meeting staffing and budget goals. He said a new agency needs at least three annual budget cycles to settle its budget.

CN Raises Storage Fee At Brampton: Canadian National Railway has raised the fees it charges shippers and ship lines to store containers at a congested intermodal terminal near Toronto. Canada's largest railroad said that beginning Dec. 1 it will cost C$75 to C$150 (US$57 to US$115) per day for containers left longer than three days, weekends included, at its Bampton Intermodal Terminal. The railroad had charged C$25 a day, with longer free periods, since August 2002, when it began a campaign to persuade shippers to move containers out of the terminal 24 hours a day and on weekends. CN said volume at Brampton far exceeds capacity, and that customers should store containers on their premises and keep warehouses open to receive containers round-the-clock. The situation came to a head last summer when truckers called a two-week boycott to protest delays.

Moller-Maersk Chairman To Retire: Michael Pram Rasmussen has been elected chairman of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, succeeding Maersk McKinney Moller, who will retire as chairman of the board and from the board itself as of Dec. 15. Rasmussen had been elected vice chairman of the board in June. Moller will remain chairman of the A.P. Moller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Moller Foundation and chairman of Odense Steel Shipyard Ltd., and will remain as member of several boards, including Maersk Olie og Gas AS. Moller will also remain a partner of A.P. Moller. Jess Soderberg will continue as chief executive.

Shanghai Air Cargo Outpaces Taiwan: Shanghai's airports more than doubled air-cargo volume for the first half of the year, far outpacing gains by neighboring competitor Taiwan. The two airports in Shanghai handled 535,739 tons of cargo in the first six months of 2003, an increase of 135.5 percent from a year earlier. Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek airport processed 614,356 tons of cargo, up 7 percent. For the 12 months ended in June, Shanghai handled 938,401 tons, a gain of 125.7 percent year-on-year. Chiang Kai-shek handled 1.42 million tons, up 13.3 percent. Shanghai's main Pudong airport ranks 17th among world airfreight centers this year, up from 28th a year ago, according to Airports Council International. Industry observers expect Shanghai to continue to grow rapidly while Taipei struggles, due in part to continued relaxation of rules imposed by China on foreign air carriers.

Matson Raises Rates: Matson Navigation Co. said it will raise rates for its Hawaii service by $125 per westbound container and $60 per eastbound container, effective Jan. 11. On the same date the carrier will increase its terminal-handling charge by $25 per westbound container and $15 per eastbound container. Rates for vehicles will increase $25, eastbound and westbound. Matson estimates that the increase in container rates will average 4.4 percent. Matson's last rate increase was 2.9 percent in April 2002.

KCS To Upgrade Rail Line To Gulfport: Kansas City Southern Railway has agreed to improve 68 miles of track linking the Port of Gulfport, Miss., with Norfolk Southern and Canadian National tracks at Hattiesburg, Miss. Gulfport Port Director Don Allee said the improved rail connection will enable the port to increase its intermodal traffic. Last year Gulfport handled 154,486 TEUs, a 19.5 percent increase from the previous year, but the port handles only about 8,000 railcars a year. Gulfport's container volume is third-highest among U.S. Gulf ports, behind Houston and New Orleans.

Trailer Bridge Narrows Loss: Trailer Bridge Inc., which operates intermodal service between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, said its third-quarter operating loss narrowed to $152,404 from $1.5 million a year earlier, while revenue increased 17 percent to $21.6 million. The company said it sees indications that volume increases in the Puerto Rico trade are being followed by higher rates following last year's demise of NPR-Navieras. As of Sept. 30, Trailer Bridge had total cash of $406,734, current assets of $13.6 million and stockholders' equity of $6 million, while current liabilities totaled $28.6 million, including $13.9 million in debt that comes due Jan. 31.