Manufacturers Seek Trade Pact Moratorium: A coalition of 17 U.S. manufacturing associations is seeking a moratorium on free-trade agreements and a halt to legislation aimed at further liberalization of preferential trade arrangements with Africa and the Middle East. The coalition said rising imports are largely to blame for what it said was a net loss of 2.7 million manufacturing jobs in the last three years. The ad hoc coalition's members include organizations representing textiles and machinery.

Hutchison Acquires Rotterdam Terminal: Hutchison Port Holdings, the world's largest container terminal operator, has acquired one of the few remaining independent container terminals at Rotterdam. The Hong Kong-based company purchased the Hanno terminal from Matrans, a privately held stevedore, for an undisclosed sum. The deal will boost Hutchison's annual containerized traffic through Rotterdam to almost 4 million TEUs, more than 70 percent of the port's total. Hutchison already controls ECT, Rotterdam's biggest terminal company, which handles 3.5 million TEUs a year.

LA, Long Beach Top 11.5 Million TEUs: After a slow start, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are expected to report more than 11.5 million TEUs handled in 2003. Long Beach recorded increases of 20.6 percent in imports and 27 percent in exports in November. At Los Angeles, containerized imports rose 14.6 and exports grew 3.3 percent during November. Southern California experienced a diversion of cargo in later 2002 and early 2003 because of severe congestion in the wake of the lockout of West Coast longshoremen during labor negotiations. The ports of Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle and Portland also expect to post increases when results for 2003 are totaled.

China Plans World's Largest Shipyard: A Chinese shipbuilding company has broken ground on what it says will be the world's biggest shipyard, official newspapers reported. The yard, being built on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River, will feature seven construction docks along a five-mile stretch of coastline, the Shanghai Daily reported. When completed in 2015, the yard will be able to produce a total of 12 million deadweight tons of ships per year, a figure potentially representing dozens of vessels. Hyundai Heavy Industries currently operates the world's largest shipyard, in the South Korean city of Ulsan. China is the world's third-largest shipbuilder, behind South Korea and Japan.

Mobile Seeks Private Developer: The Alabama State Port Authority is looking for partners to help develop and operate its proposed new container terminal at Mobile. The port has asked for "expressions of interest" in its proposed 120-acre Choctaw Point Terminal. Port officials want the requests to help identify potential operators and developers for the container terminal and its related facilities. The project is in the final stages of its draft environmental impact study. Construction is expected to begin next month, with the project scheduled for completion by fourth quarter 2006. The Port of Tampa, Fla., last year solicited a private partner for its new container terminal and signed up SSA Marine. The ports of Corpus Christi and Galveston, Texas, also are looking for private partners to help develop similar projects.

Study Touts Container-On-Barge Services: A study commissioned by the Port of Pittsburgh says Ohio River terminals near the city are potential sites for container-on-barge transportation services. The study, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Maritime Administration, recommends that barge shipments of steel and containers be combined for intermodal distribution. The port is working with consultants to identify potential customers for container-on-barge service.

KCS Expects TMM Ruling Soon: Kansas City Southern said it expects an arbitration ruling in its disputed acquisition of a Mexican railroad early last year. An arbitration panel has been studying the validity of an agreement by Grupo TMM to sell its 38.4 percent share of Mexican railway TFM to Kansas City Southern. Four months after the agreement was signed, TMM shareholders rejected the deal. KCS officials contend the acquisition agreement is valid through 2004, and recently won a Delaware court injunction barring TMM from violating the agreement until the dispute is resolved.

Chinese Port Adds Berths: China's southeastern port of Fuzhou is adding deep-water berths in a bid to attract cross-strait traffic to and from Taiwan. Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, is one of two ports designated by China to handle direct sea business with Taiwan. The other is Xiamen, a special economic zone also in Fujian, the closest mainland point to China. Taiwan has repeatedly said it intends to permit direct sailings, but it hasn't made much progress - in part because it wants access to larger ports such as Shanghai. Even with requirements for a third stop on sailings between the mainland and Taiwan, cross-straits trade is expected to exceed $50 billion in 2003, up 25 percent from the previous year.

Alameda Corridor Plans Security Upgrade: The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority plans to spend $750,000 to improve the 20-mile rail corridor's security. The improvements will include construction of a manned security operations center and installation of closed-circuit television cameras, motion detectors and fencing. The Transportation Security Administration is providing $601,000 of the cost through a grant.