Fibre2Fashion: With retail sales rising and President Trump planning to increase and broaden tariffs on goods from China, imports at US’s major retail container ports are expected to see very high levels the remainder of this spring and through the summer, according to monthly Global Port Tracker report released by National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
The rush to bring merchandise into the country that was seen through much of last year slowed down after Trump postponed a tariff hike from January to March and then put it on hold indefinitely as trade talks with China showed signs of progres. But Trump said that 10 per cent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will rise to 25 per cent from May 10, and that he plans to impose new 25 per cent tariffs on most remaining Chinese goods at an unspecified date.
“Much of this is driven by consumer demand but retailers are likely to resume stocking up merchandise before new tariffs can take effect,” NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Tariff increases and new tariffs will mean higher costs for US businesses, higher prices for American consumers and lost jobs for many American workers. We encourage the administration to stay focused on a trade agreement, and we hope the negotiations will get back on track. It would be unfortunate to undermine the progress that has been made with more tit-for-tat tariffs that only punish Americans.”
US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million twenty-foot equivalent units in March, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 0.6 per cent from February but up 4.4 per cent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.
April was estimated at 1.76 million TEU, up 7.7 per cent year-over-year. May is forecast at 1.9 million TEU, up 4.2 per cent; June at 1.92 million TEU, up 3.7 per cent; July at 1.96 million TEU, up 3 per cent; August at 1.98 million TEU, up 4.6 per cent, and September at 1.91 million, up 2 per cent. Imports have never before hit the 1.9 million TEU mark earlier than July. And the August number would be the highest monthly total since the record 2 million TEU record set last October.
Imports during 2018 set a record of 21.8 million TEU, an increase of 6.2 per cent over 2017’s previous record of 20.5 million TEU. The first half of 2019 is expected to total 10.7 million TEU, up 3.9 per cent over the first half of 2018.
“Consumption is facing the potential of increased tariffs on Chinese imports if President Trump’s tweets are anything to go by,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. “One can only hope that this is a simple negotiating tactic that will run out of steam.”