Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Brian Baskin Features Dow Jones Newswires

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More products bear the "Made in the USA" label in the year since Donald Trump's election, but economists say the new administration's policies aren't behind the trend. A rebound in global energy and commodity prices and steady worldwide economic growth are fueling a steady rise in U.S. manufacturing jobs and spending on new equipment and plants, the WSJ's Andrew Tangel and Josh Zumbrun write. The gains have come without the tariffs and penalties for outsourcing jobs that Mr. Trump has at times threatened to implement, with manufacturers crediting improved automation technology in addition to strong global demand. This year's recovery hasn't changed some fundamental trends in how companies structure their global supply chains. While manufacturers like Caterpillar Inc. that serve commodity industries are benefiting from booming U.S. harvests, clothing makers continue to move production offshore. And some of the gains seen this year could be quickly reversed if the economy slows or countries put up new barriers to trade.

Some real-estate investors think brick-and-mortar retail isn't dead yet. In the wake of Brookfield Property Partners LP's $14.8 billion bid for mall operator GGP Inc., other top-tier malls are expected to become takeover targets, the WSJ's Esther Fung reports. Malls have been bottom of the barrel in the real-estate market in recent years, with buyers spooked by a steady parade of retail bankruptcies. Owners counter that plenty of malls still attract crowds, particularly locations targeting affluent shoppers. And as traditional retailers exit, malls are finding other ways to fill empty storefronts, including restaurants and attractions. Some are trying to lure trendy brands that do most of their business online, offering favorable leases to brands like Untuckit and Warby Parker that appeal to younger shoppers. The budding revival in mall operators' fortunes is a reminder that for all of the growth in e-commerce over the last decade, the vast majority of shopping still takes place in stores - and Brookfield is betting that's not going to change anytime soon.

U.S. trade negotiators are doubling down on their "take it or leave it" approach to re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told The Wall Street Journal CEO Council that Mexico and Canada have more to lose from the pact's demise, giving the U.S. an upper hand in trade talks. Mr. Ross's statements are a sign that the Trump administration is sticking to its guns on trade, with Nafta negotiations deadlocked and U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership off the table. It's true that as the world's largest economy, the U.S. is in pole position in most trade negotiations. But that doesn't mean potential partners don't have other options if they feel they've been pushed too far. A group of 11 nations is reviving TPP talks that exclude the U.S., and Mexico has courted Chinese investment as a lifeline should its U.S. trade ties fray. Many U.S. business leaders agree, worrying American auto makers and farmers could be among the losers if Nafta is dismantled.

AIRFREIGHT

Airbus SE is in a tug-of-war with one of its biggest customers over a significant part of its production line. Emirates Airline is stepping up pressure on the plane maker to keep producing its A380 super jumbo for at least another decade before it places any more orders, the WSJ's Robert Wall reports, even though the jet is losing money for Airbus and faces foundering support in the rest of the aviation world. The demand is an aggressive negotiating ploy and highlights how the Airbus's troubled plane now depends on backing from just one airline. The stance from Emirates pushes Airbus into a corner while the manufacturer is trying to reset its supply chain and pull away from a $20 billion program that hasn't produced profits after a decade of production. With 100 of the jets in its fleet, 42 on order and another 30 under negotiation, Emirates seems to be saying that the real control of the production rests with the customer.

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QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

The Wall Street Journal ranks top contenders for Amazon's new headquarters. (WSJ)

Canada plans to escalate its legal fight against the U.S. Commerce Department's decision to slap tariffs of roughly 20% or more on Canadian lumber imports. (WSJ)

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn says the Trump administration could begin discussions with lawmakers about an ambitious infrastructure package in the coming weeks. (WSJ)

U.S. household debt hit a record of nearly $13 trillion last quarter. (WSJ)

Foxconn Technology Group's profits plunged amid iPhone production problems. (WSJ)

The operator of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods reported no sales growth for the first time since 2009. (WSJ)

Indonesia's apparel manufacturing sector is booming as retailers look for alternatives to China's rising labor costs. (Business of Fashion)

Ceva Logistics cut its third-quarter loss nearly in half to $22 million on double-digit gains in air and ocean freight volumes. (Air Cargo News)

Taiwan's Yang Ming Transport Ltd. is considering ordering 20 container ships, including a mix of mega-ships and feeder vessels. (Splash 24/7)

The Georgia Ports Authority approved the Mason Mega Rail Terminal project to double on-dock rail capacity. (Business in Savannah)

E-commerce is driving up demand for air freight outside the peak season. (Journal of Commerce)

U.S. ports say they face a shortage of customs inspectors. (The Loadstar)

Australia Post is testing a "mobile parcel locker" to deliver packages to homes. (The Guardian)

Ethiopian Airlines agreed to buy four Boeing Co. 777 freighters in a deal worth $1.3 billion. (Associated Press)

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. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 15, 2017 07:14 ET (12:14 GMT)