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Australian watchdog investigating shipping cost price-hike

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Australia’s consumer watchdog has opened up an investigation into the dramatic rise in global shipping and container costs following the pandemic

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission confirmed it has opened the inquiry, particularly focusing on the sharp rise on the price and movement of shipping containers.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims says he is aware of what is going on within the shipping industry and “is investigating it.”

“There is a limited amount I can say on it, but we are looking at the freight system – particularly the role that containers play, I can certainly say that, and that is certainly on the list of investigations”

The costs of shipping containers have risen more than 300 per cent in the last year, with steeper prices crunching retailer profit margins.

Shipping containers costs have risen more than 300 per cent in the last year, with steeper prices crunching retailer profit margins.

The shortage of containers

The insufficient supply of container ships has been blamed on supply chain disruptions caused by COVID and recent virus outbreaks at key ports in China.

But many Australian business executives say that they believe the container shortage is “partially artificial” and that the industry is just playing on the excuse as a reason to squeeze higher prices.

The massive steel containers piled onto ships are vital for the international movement of goods.

The skyrocketing cost of shipping containers that bring everything from sneakers and sofas to washing machines to Australia has ratcheted up costs for importers – especially the retail sector, which has shaved its profit margins.

RBA responds to shipping crisis

Reserve Bank of Australia responds

The economic impact has also reached the attention of the Reserve Bank.

In its May statement on monetary policy, the RBA reported on a five-fold increase in shipping container prices since 2019.

The RBA stated that the lack of shipping containers had resulted in sharp increases in global shipping prices and also contributed delivery delays.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

Business

EU plans to force USB-C chargers for all phones

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EU plans to make USB-C connectors the standard port for all smartphones and tablets, angering Apple

The European Commission rules to force manufacturers to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices. The European Commission is aiming to have a common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, and handheld videogame consoles.

The ruling has been in the making for a decade, with environmental concerns the main driving force behind the historic move.

Reducing waste

The rule will reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device. Politicians have been pushing for this uni9versal charging rule for over a decade.

Disposed and unused charging cables generate approximately 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.  Research shows the average person owns around three mobile phone chargers.

A decade ago there were about 30 different types of chargers, now, phones use either USB-C, lightning, and USB micro-B.

Rotten Apple

The move would see all smartphones in the EU sold with the same charger, a motion Apple is not happy about. The tech giant says this move would damage ongoing innovation.

The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made “Lightning” connector. Apple argues its Lightning connector is used by one billion active iPhone users.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,”

Apple spokesperson

The proposed changes would apply to the charging port on the device body and will also standardise charging speeds. It may be a number of years before the proposals come into effect.

It will be thoroughly debated by the European Parliament and national Governments.

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Trade war fires up as U.S companies pass tariffs onto consumers

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Japan Exports

The trade war between the United States and China is continuing to heat up, but this hasn’t stopped American businesses from leaving the Chinese mainland

This all follows the US implementing tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese consumer products in a bid to bring manufacturing back to American shores.

A new report has found this is hurting the US economy and has not been successful in pressuring China to change any of its economic policies.

Meanwhile, businesses based in either China and America have remained “deeply integrated” with the other… with foreign investment into China hitting a record high of US$144.4 billion in 2020.

This comes as Joe Biden moves to review US policy towards China, including the previous policies of Donald Trump.

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Business

Energy prices soar for Europeans as winter chill approaches

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There are growing concerns for European residents as energy prices continue to skyrocket in the lead-up to winter

The wholesale prices of natural gas in Britain, France, Spain, Germany and Italy have reached record highs, with overall household bills now through the roof.

This all comes as the continent braces for a cold winter and fuel is needed for increased electricity generation.

Meanwhile, the Europen Consumer Organisation warns it has seen a huge price increase… saying “It’s worrying ahead of the winter when gas consumption will necessarily increase.”

This latest price hike is being caused by a number of factors… including a depletion of natural gas stockpiles during a cold spring and a growing demand for gas in China.

Russia is also supplying less gas to the market than it ever has before.

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