Today’s Pickup: progress in trade talks with China but tensions remain

Aerial view of Kwai Tsing container terminals Hong Kong, China. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

China and the U.S. held a teleconference involving treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The two sides traced out an agreement that would involve a commitment by China to increase purchases of American goods and services by $1.2 trillion over the next several years. The U.S. has also demanded that China open its markets to American businesses, improve protections of American intellectual property, and refrain from “economic espionage,” according to the New York Times. Bloomberg News reported China was moving ahead with a plan to reduce its tariffs on American cars, which Trump tweeted earlier this month.

Complications, however, remain. China was angered by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company. Meng has been detained in Canada on suspicion of fraud involving violations of U.S. sanctions in Iran, and is awaiting a decision from a judge about whether she will be released on bail. Meanwhile, the U.S. is readying a host of additional measures to take against China. Federal prosecutors are expected to unseal criminal charges this week against hackers linked to the Chinese government, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. The hackers allegedly engaged in a sophisticated multiyear scheme to break into U.S. technology service providers to compromise the networks of their clients.

Did you know?

It’s called ‘black ice’ because the the road appears to be clear or wet, so drivers can see the black top through the ice. However, the ice is often undetectable.


“TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) has gotten countries to trade and talk to each other after the Second World War, and there has been peace in Europe thanks to this. Now, we want to make sure that all the other regions benefit from this as well.”

—Umberto de Pretto, the Secretary General of IRU, speaking on the effectiveness of the law that keeps borders open between Europe and Asia

In other news:

China-US trade war providing a business bonus for South-east Asian exporters

Shippers serving the US import market may have already begun voting with their feet and moving production out of China. (The Loadstar)

Here’s what would happen if there’s a government shutdown in December

Treasury, SEC, Homeland Security are among agencies whose funding expires. (Bloomberg

May fights leadership revolt

British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to fight a challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party, saying a change now would delay or even imperil Britain’s planned divorce from the European Union. (Reuters)

OmniTRAX affiliate acquires two rail lines from CSX

An OmniTRAX Inc. affiliate has acquired the Alabama & Tennessee River Railway LLC (ATN) and the Fulton County Railway LLC (FCR) from CSX (NASDAQ: CSX). (Progressive Railroading)

What happened to create a 20-mile traffic backup on Interstate 81 between Abingdon and Bristol?

Traffic stalled for around 18 hours on a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 81, starting on a snowy Sunday morning and spanning to 4:45 a.m. on Monday. (The Roanoke Times)

Final thoughts:

USPS has deployed more than 20,000 extended-capacity delivery vans that have replaced its aging minivan fleet. The new vehicles have a shelving design that makes it easier for letter carriers to arrange mail and parcels for easy access, according to USPS information. Meanwhile, the agency is working to replace its fleet of 163,000 longer-life vehicles, some of which were built more than 30 years ago, with newer-generation trucks that are safer, more environmentally friendly, and capable of handling more parcel traffic coming from e-commerce orders. The contract award process is still ongoing.

Hammer down everyone!

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.