Imports at the US’s major retail container ports are forecast to see their final increase of the year this month ahead of new tariffs, that will be implemented in December, according to the Global Port Tracker report.
President Trump announced an agreement on a partial trade deal with China last month, but officials are still working on the details and have not announced a date or location for the measure to be signed. As a result, an October tariff increase was cancelled, while there are reports claiming that some tariffs could be removed. However, there has been no word on a new round of tariffs on consumer goods currently scheduled to take effect December 15.
NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold, commented on the occasion, saying that:
Retailers are encouraged by reports that China and the United States have agreed to remove at least some of the existing tariffs once a ‘phase one’ deal is signed. We are eager to see concrete evidence that the trade war is coming to an end with a final deal that removes all tariffs
US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.87 million TEUs in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was an increase of 0.2% year-over-year, but they fell 4.7% from August, when imports saw their second-highest level on record, namely 1.97 million TEU, ahead of tariffs that were implemented on September 1.
As for October it was estimated at 1.93 million, a fall of 5.2% from last year’s record 2 million TEU. November is expected to be at 1.96 million TEU, up by 8.3% year-over-year and tying last December and this July for the third-highest number of containers in a single month.
However, imports are expected to fall to 1.78 million TEU in December, down by 9.2% from near-record numbers last year ahead of scheduled tariffs that were later postponed. The expected decline from November will come as December’s tariffs take effect, but the month, NRF notes, historically sees a falloff in imports as most holiday merchandise has already arrived by that point.
What is more, the first half of 2019 totaled 10.5 million TEU, an increase of 2.1% over the first half of 2018, and 2019 is expected to see a new annual record of 22 million TEU. If that happens, it would signify a 1% increase from last year’s previous record of 21.8 million TEU.
Finally, January 2020 is expected to be at 1.85 million TEU, down by 2.3% from January 2019. February is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, down by 2.1% from a year ago, while will be at 1.76 million TEU, marking a significant increase of 9.1%, due to fluctuations in the Lunar New Year calendar.