NRF: US Imports Rising Ahead of Expected Tariffs Hike

Long Beach terminalIllustration. Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Imports at the major retail container ports in the US are expected to see unusually high levels the remainder of this spring and through the summer.

According to the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, the growth is expected amid rising retail sales and President Trump’s plans to both increase and broaden tariffs on goods from China.

“Much of this is driven by consumer demand but retailers are likely to resume stocking up merchandise before new tariffs can take effect,” Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, said.

“Tariff increases and new tariffs will mean higher costs for U.S. 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,” Gold added.

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 progress. But Trump said this week that 10 percent tariffs on USD 200 billion worth of Chinese goods will rise to 25 percent on Friday, and that he plans to impose new 25 percent tariffs on most remaining Chinese goods at an unspecified date.

U.S. ports covered by NRF’s Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million TEUs in March, down 0.6 percent from February but up 4.4 percent year-over-year. April was estimated at 1.76 million TEU, up 7.7 percent year-over-year.

Imports during 2018 set a record of 21.8 million TEU, an increase of 6.2 percent 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 percent over the first half of 2018.

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