THE WEEK

THE WEEK

OECD Urges Tighter Container Security: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has urged governments to secure "the outer edges" of the container supply chain. In a report, the Paris-based OECD urged governments to go beyond existing international agreements covering ports and maritime transport and address "weak links in the container transport chain." The report said many security concerns in that chain "are related to inland carriers and freight integrators operating in the first few and last few links of the chain. These actors are numerous, disparate in nature and activity, operate on tight margins and, as a result, represent more of a security risk than their larger counterparts farther down the chain (i.e., large land, port and maritime transport operators). It is on these larger actors and their activities that most international and bilateral security initiatives have been focused to date." The OECD recommendations on the importance of securing container-stuffing operations and container seals are similar to those in a joint report released in 2003 by the National Industrial Transportation League, World Shipping Council and International Mass Retail Association.

TSA Seeks TWIC Card Proposals: The Transportation Security Administration has issued a request for proposals for the prototype of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential. The prototype is the third step in the TSA's development of a uniform identification credential for workers at seaports, rail, pipeline, trucking and mass-transit facilities. The testing will be conducted in the ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del.; Los Angeles and Long Beach; and 14 ports in Florida. The TSA expects up to 200,000 workers may participate in the prototype, which will examine a range of identify-management processes, including the use of smart-card technology with biometrics. The latest round of testing is expected to last seven months. The TSA will then perform a further review in preparation for the nationwide rollout of the card.

Andersen Becomes Maersk Partner: Thomas Thune Andersen, president and chief executive of Maersk Inc. in the U.S., will become a partner of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk group in Copenhagen, the company announced. The change followed the sudden resignation of Kjeld Fjeldgaard, a partner of A.P. Moller-Maersk in charge of oil and gas activities, due to "disagreement on management issues," the Danish group said in its announcement. Fjeldgaard will resign as partner of the group and head of its oil activities, effective July 1. Andersen, 39, will be succeeded as top executive of the U.S. unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk by Russell Bruner, 48, an American who has been with the group since 1989 and held management positions in and outside the U.S.

Sweedlund Joins USMX: Ole Sweedlund, a veteran shipping executive, has joined the U.S. Maritime Alliance as executive vice president and chief operating officer, a new position. USMX is the multi-employer association that negotiates and administers the waterfront employers' contract with the International Longshoremen's Association. James Capo is the association's chairman and chief executive. Sweedlund has spend the last seven years as deputy managing director of North American operations for Hanjin Shipping Co. Earlier, he spent 19 years with P&O Containers, rising to senior vice president and general manager. Before joining P&O, he spent four years with Universal Maritime Services as a superintendent. Sweedlund is a 1973 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

Taiwan Seeks More Cross-Straits Trade: Taiwan's newly reappointed Premier Yu Shyi-kun says the government will make convenient cross-strait cargo movement with China a priority of its legislative program. The premier said the government will continue to promote cross-strait commercial exchanges and give priority to boosting cargo services. He gave no details. In addition to the main southern Port of Kaohsiung, the government has opened the ports of Taichung and Keelung for "offshore direct" cross-strait transshipments, as part of its efforts to realize the government's goal, he told the legislative assembly. The offshore centers accept mainland-origin goods for transshipment, based on the fact that they do not clear customs and thus enter Taiwan proper. Most cargo is still routed via third points, chiefly Hong Kong, adding time and costs. Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian - whose narrow re-election awaits a court-ordered recount - has frequently said he is in favor of dropping the half-century ban on direct sea and air movements between the island and the mainland. In its annual review of business conditions, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan reiterated the need for faster action, elevating the subject of cross-strait economic ties to top priority.

Democrats Seek CAFTA Restrictions: Senate Democrats are urging the Bush administration to seek labor, environmental and trade capacity-building provisions of the proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement before sending it to Congress. The agreement, signed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and trade ministers from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, is not expected to be forwarded for congressional approval until the next Congress convenes in January. "The likely delay in the formal submission of CAFTA presents an important opportunity to complete work on a number of unfinished issues," the senators said in a letter to Zoellick. The letter was signed by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Joseph Liberman, D-Conn; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash; and Joseph Biden, D-Del.

Zim Posts Improved Profit: Zim Israel Navigation Corp. posted first-quarter profit of $17 million, compared with $2.3 million a year earlier. Revenue increased 20 percent to $554 million on a 9.5 percent increase in the average per-container rate.