Imports at US’s major retail container ports will be at high levels this summer, but they are expected to have modest increase in comparison to last year’s rush to bring merchandise into the country, due to scheduled tariff increases, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
Commenting on the situation, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold, said that retailers want to protect their customers against future price increases that would come with any additional tariffs. However, with the latest suggested tariffs on hold for now and warehouses bulging, there is not much to be done.
We will still see some near-record numbers this summer, but right now no one knows whether there will be additional tariffs or not. We hope the restarted negotiations with China will result in significant reforms rather than more tariffs that tax American companies and consumers
US President Donald Trump had announced, after a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping in June, that he would hold off on tariffs on further $300 billion in Chinese goods while negotiations between the two countries continue. Along with tariffs applied last year, the new round would tax almost all goods the US imports from China.
However, imports of consumer goods are still rising, because importers buy items expecting further increases in tariffs, the cost of which will be borne by the American consumer. In fact, US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.85 million TEUs during May. This marks an increase of 6% from April and 1.4% year-over-year.
As for June, it was estimated to be at 1.87 million TEU, up by 0.8% year-over-year. July is expected to reach 1.93 million TEU, increasing 1.3%, August at 1.96 million TEU, up by 3.4%, September at 1.89 million, up 1.1%, October at 1.94 million TEU, down by 4.5%, and November at 1.88 million TEU, up 4.3%.
Finally, imports during 2018 achieved a new record of 21.8 million TEU, an increase of 6.2% over 2017’s previous record of 20.5 million TEU. The first half of 2019 totaled around 10.6 million TEU, up by 2.8% over the first half of 2018.