U.S. container import growth slows in January
Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Source: American Shipper
Import volumes at major retail container ports in the United States grew 1.8 percent to 1.73 million TEUs in January 2018 compared with the same month a year ago, according to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
On a sequential basis, U.S. container imports slipped 0.2 percent from December 2017, according to the report, as a result of annual Asian factory shutdowns for Lunar New Year.
The NRF warned, however, that new tariffs on the imports of steel and aluminum to the United States signed by President Donald Trump late last week, as well as any resulting retaliatory measures, could put a major damper on cargo growth.
“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,” Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the NRF, said in a statement. “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.”
For the full year in 2017, import volumes at major U.S. retail ports surged 7.6 percent to a record 20.5 million TEUs compared with the previous year.
Looking ahead to the remainder of this year, the Global Port Tracker report forecasts the following import figures for each month for ports covered across the Global Port Tracker, compared to the same month in 2017:
• February at 1.66 million TEUs, up 13.7 percent;
• March at 1.53 million TEUs, down 1.8 percent;
• April at 1.7 million TEUs, up 4.7 percent;
• May at 1.79 million TEUs, up 2.5 percent;
• June at 1.8 million TEUs, up 4.7 percent;
• And July at 1.88 million TEUs, up 4 percent.
Should those projections hold true, combined first half volumes would reach a total of 10.2 million TEUs, an increase of 4.1 percent over the first half of 2017, but NRF noted these figures could change depending on the outcome of Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.
“A potential trade war would have a negative impact on cargo growth to the detriment of both the consumer and U.S. industry,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett. “The likelihood of an increase in exports evaporates as well, killing off any chance for an improvement in the balance of trade.”
Global Port Tracker, which is produced by Hackett Associates for the NRF, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston.
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