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Ukraine turmoil not hurting trade flow: execs

Jun 17, 2014 | 04:02 PM | Michael Cowden

Tags  John D. Foster, American Institute for International Steel, AIIS, Kurt Orban Partners, Coastal Cargo Co., Morgan A. Haeuser, Artco Group International, Jeffrey Himmel International Logistics

NEW YORK — Trade flows from Ukraine have continued largely uninterrupted despite political tensions with Russia, according to steel trade executives.

However, the situation is fast-moving and the status quo could change quickly, some said.

Burlingame, Calif.-based Kurt Orban Partners LLC has not been impacted so far by the turmoil between the two nations, company president John D. Foster said June 16 during a roundtable at AMM’s Steel Success Strategies XXIX conference in New York.

"I was in (Ukraine) the week the whole thing blew up," said Foster, who is chairman of the American Institute for International Steel. "But we’re getting cargoes out of Ukraine through Odessa on a month-to-month basis. It seems, businesswise, they are letting the flow go."

However, the company is keeping a watchful eye on developments, he said.

New Orleans-based Coastal Cargo Co. Inc. also has not been impacted by the turmoil in eastern Ukraine, according to company customer service and sales representative Morgan A. Haeuser. "We have not seen any effect. ... And from our contacts, they don’t foresee it being a problem," she said.

Any big changes in trade flow most likely would require Obama administration action "a lot more significant than anything that’s been done yet," said Eric C. Hansen, managing director of New Orleans-based International Logistics Co. Inc. In the meantime, the situation between Ukraine and Russia has led more to "talk" than real-world trade consequences, he added.

However, facts on the ground or policies "could change on a moment’s notice," said Jeffrey Himmel, president and chief executive officer of White Plains, N.Y.-based Artco Group International Inc.

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