Today's Pickup: U.S.-China trade war cools, but concerns of IP predation persist

U.S. China trade war

Good day,

With the U.S.-China trade war cooling down after a series of de-escalation talks, the outline of an agreement is taking shape - a deal that does not look favorable to U.S. interests. This starts out with the Trump administration agreeing to drop severe penalties on Chinese telecom major ZTE. The U.S. had earlier banned ZTE from exporting out of the country, after it realized that the company was purchasing parts from U.S. manufacturers and selling finished products to Iran and North Korea.  

Now with the ban about to be revoked, ZTE is expected to be let free with heavy fines and the promise of a management shake-up. Keeping up with their end of the deal, the Chinese would be removing the billions of dollars in tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. The Chinese government has also assured that it would cut 15% on tariffs regarding American export cars, as a gesture of goodwill. But when this move is scrutinized, it can be seen that the Chinese share of automobile import is negligible, as the country only imports 4% of the cars that run on its road. 

As the dust settles, concerns arise if the U.S. has misplaced its intentions with the Chinese bargain. U.S. intellectual property is routinely preyed on in China, and Chinese laws force the U.S. companies doing business in China to look elsewhere - thus amounting to an uneven playing field. A premature jubilation on a trade-war-gone-cold would probably hurt the U.S. interests in the longer run, and also let China flout a few more rules in the process.

Did you know?

The average price per gallon of diesel gasoline rose for the ninth consecutive week, standing now at $3.277. The value topped last week’s $3.239 average, becoming the highest weekly average since the week of December 29, 2014, when the weekly average came in at $3.213. 

Quotable:

“For the first time in over a century since the horse-and-buggy, American cities are going to be redesigned.”

- Tony Seba, author and futurist at Transparency18

In other news:

Nafta talks stalled on U.S. auto demands

Calls for higher local content and America First provisions have proven unacceptable to Mexico, Canada (WSJ)

XPO Logistics advances to number 67 on ranking of largest U.S. employers

XPO Logistics, a leading global provider of transportation and logistics solutions, grew its employee population to more than 95,000 in 2017, earning the company spot number 67 on a ranking of the largest U.S. employers. (NASDAQ)

Traffic to Target stores strongest in 10 years

It's been an expensive quarter for Target with significant spend on stores and digital fulfillment, but the investment appears to be paying off with customers. (Retail Dive)

'Fear of being first' may be the biggest hurdle for blockchain in logistics

Internal resistance, or fear of being first, could be one of the most challenging aspects of introducing blockchain into logistics. (Loadstar)

LTL pricing looks to be in line with current market conditions

Given the decent health of the economy, specifically the freight economy, it comes as no surprise to see the less-than-truckload (LTL) market having a strong 2018. (Logistics Management)

Final Thoughts:

When the concept of e-commerce ventured out during the dot-com bubble, little did we think about it altering our perspective towards consumerism and the way we purchase products. But now, the e-commerce juggernaut is causing veritable market chains to close down, unable to keep up with the winds of change. 

Online businesses have realized that customer experience is as vital as having an expansive inventory, and are working hard on improving customer experience with attractive pricing and delivery options. One aspect that has now come to the fore is the importance of packaging, and how sustainable packaging can help raise a company’s brand value in the eyes of its customers. 

A recent survey throws up some interesting statistics. 68% of Americans believe that the packaging of their shipment shows them how much the retailer cares about them and their order. And 48% of them think the packaging reflects the value of the shipment - the better the packaging, the better the product inside. Who would have thought that something as mundane and seemingly unimportant as a product cover be a decisive factor in brand likeability? Consumer psychology works in weird ways, but then again, the onus is on the businesses to catch the drift and cash in. 

Hammer down everyone!

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