Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Brian Baskin Features Dow Jones Newswires

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The first iPhone assembled in India has rolled off the production line. Apple Inc. is making some of its lower-priced handsets in Bangalore for sale domestically, part of a strategy to gain a bigger share of a fast-growing smartphone market, the WSJ's Rajesh Roy, Newley Purnell and Tripp Mickle write. Apple is making sweeping changes to how it manufactures and sells its flagship devices, as cooling sales growth in China forces the company to press into new markets. India presents some unique challenges; even Apple's cheapest smartphones are priced above what many potential buyers can afford, and the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm has been engaged in long-running negotiations with India's government to reduce taxes on imported components. But with smartphone shipments in India rising 18% last year - compared with 3% globally - Apple can't afford to stay on the sidelines.

A legal fight between Apple and Qualcomm Inc. over some of the technology that powers iPhones and iPads is moving up the supply chain. Qualcomm is suing a bevy of Apple's contract manufacturers, including Foxconn Technology Group, Compal Electronics Inc. and Wistron Corp., the Taiwanese manufacturer overseeing Apple's new production in India, the WSJ's Ted Greenwald writes. The chip maker's main beef is with Apple, which stopped reimbursing its contract manufacturers for licensing fees after negotiations with Qualcomm broke down. It's the contract manufacturers that hold the licenses to use Qualcomm patents. The stakes are high for both companies: patent-licensing made up about 80% of Qualcomm's pretax profits last year, and the company's technology is found in nearly every smartphone.

Amazon.com Inc. is preparing a full-scale invasion of Australia's retail sector. The e-commerce giant will build warehouses and could test deliveries via autonomous drones and vehicles, in its first major foray into the country, the WSJ's Mike Cherney and Laura Stevens report. Australia's retail sector has remained relatively insulated from the upheaval e-commerce has unleashed across much of the rest of the world. Shoppers there prefer to visit stores rather than pay higher prices and endure long waits for delivery from online marketplaces shipping in merchandise from overseas. Amazon's entry could change that, threatening brick-and-mortar retailers and forcing them to step up their online presence. A healthy presence in Australia would also add another continent to Amazon's planned global transportation network. It won't come cheap though, as Amazon will need to build massive fulfillment centers and develop shipping operations to move goods across a land mass nearly the size of the continental U.S. but containing just 10% of the population.

ECONOMY & TRADE

A Trump administration proposal to add rules barring currency manipulation to future trade deals is generating controversy along familiar fault lines. The currency rules would prevent members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or future U.S. trade partners in Europe and Asia, from nudging the value of their currencies higher or lower for economic gain, the WSJ's William Mauldin writes. The plan has support from U.S. manufacturers who believe they've lost global market share to competitors in countries with artificially weak exchange rates that make their goods more competitive abroad. Multinational corporations fear a new fight over currency will distract from more pressing concerns over tariffs and commercial rules. Allegations of manipulation are common, though proving it is harder. President Donald Trump frequently attacked China for weakening the yuan, even as the Treasury Department declined to label Beijing a currency manipulator. Canada and Mexico allow their currencies to float freely. U.S. automakers say Japan weakened the yen in recent years, but the tactics the government used, an economic stimulus known as quantitative easing, likely wouldn't be prohibited under new trade rules.

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QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

CSX Corp. Chief Executive Hunter Harrison has been spotted using a portable oxygen system, sparking investor questions about his health. (WSJ)

Target Corp. will invest billions in redesigning stores and lowering prices after sales fell in its most recent quarter. (WSJ)

Home Depot is benefiting from a strong U.S. housing market and operating online and brick-and-mortar operations as one unit, the company's CFO says in an interview. (WSJ)

U.S. household debt hit a record high in the first quarter. (WSJ)

Mexico's Grupo Lala is the lead bidder for organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm Inc. (WSJ)

Nearly half of European Union businesses are looking to cut ties with U.K. suppliers following Brexit, a survey shows. (Independent)

The number of containership orders as a share of global fleets fell to a record low, according to Alphaliner. (Splash 24/7)

General Electric Co. and the Port of Los Angeles began a pilot program to digitize shipping data. (DC Velocity)

A creditor dropped objections to the sale of Rickmers Maritime's fleet. (Seatrade-Maritime)

Freight forwarders are expanding partnerships with cargo airlines as they add fast-fashion customers. (The Loadstar)

Manufacturers created 27,000 more jobs in the U.S. than they moved offshore last year, a reshoring advocacy group says. (Global Trade)

Geodis is equipping staff in a Dutch warehouse with "exoskeletons" to protect their backs as they lift and carry objects. (Material Handling & Logistics)

Suicide rates on commercial shipping vessels have more than tripled in the past year and make up 15% of deaths at sea, an insurance group says. (Lloyd's List)

Swiss startup Teleretail AG is building a delivery robot it says can travel 50 miles. (TechCrunch)

ABOUT US

Brian Baskin is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @brianjbaskin, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage, @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ and follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Brian Baskin at brian.baskin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 18, 2017 06:42 ET (10:42 GMT)