Port of Philadelphia Port of Philadelphia

New Tariffs Threaten Import Growth at Container Ports

“A potential trade war would have a negative impact on cargo growth,” said Ben Hackett. “The likelihood of an increase in exports evaporates as well, killing off any chance for an improvement in the balance of trade.”

The tariffs issued last week on steel and aluminum could eventually have an impact on the ports, according to a report released on March 9 by the by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“With steel and aluminum tariffs already in place, new tariffs on goods from China being threatened and the ongoing threat of NAFTA withdrawal, we could very quickly have a trade war on our hands,” NRF vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.

“The immediate impact would be higher prices for American consumers that would throw away the gains of tax reform and put a roadblock in front of economic growth. But in the long term, we could see a loss in cargo volume and all the jobs that depend on it, from dockworkers on down through the supply chain.”

“A potential trade war would have a negative impact on cargo growth to the detriment of both the consumer and U.S. industry,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “The likelihood of an increase in exports evaporates as well, killing off any chance for an improvement in the balance of trade.”

Imports at the nations’ major retail container ports are expected to dip slightly this month, as a result of annual Asian factory shutdowns for Lunar New Associates.

In January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.73 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was up 0.2% from December and up 1.8% from a year ago.

Forecasts for the next few months are as follows:

  • February was estimated at 1.66 million TEU, up 13.7% year-over-year.
  • March is forecast at 1.53 million TEU, down 1.8% from last year
  • April at 1.7 million TEU, up 4.7%
  • May at 1.79 million TEU, up 2.5%
  • June at 1.8 million TEU, up 4.7%
  • July at 1.88 million TEU, up 4%

The first half of 2018 is expected to total 10.2 million TEU, an increase of 4.1% over the first half of 2017. The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, up 7.6% from 2016’s previous record of 19.1 million TEU.

 

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