US West Coast’s six largest ports sent a letter to US President Donald Trump alerting about the impacts of the trade war between the US and China, adding that the escalating tension will affect ports’ economies, workers, residents and international partnerships.
[In early 2019, Eurasia ranked the US-China tensions at the second place of the top risks the world would encounter in 2019. As the new US tariffs were imposed on the 1st of September, China followed, imposing a 5% tariff on US crude for the first time.]
Concerning the letter, the Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Oakland, Port of Portland, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma highlighted that the back-and-forth tariffs between the United States and China affected the exporters particularly hard, resulting to deep concerns from customers about their increasing challenges due to rising U.S. tariffs and Chinese retaliation.
As Stephanie Bowman, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, commented
The chaos of the current trade war is one of the most prominent risks ahead. Exporters are losing market opportunities through increased tariffs on sales to China. Changing global trade routes could mean fewer West Coast imports as supply chains shift away from China.
Also, Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance added
A long trade war could mean more shipping time for western producers and fewer work opportunities for West Coast workers.
The letter focused on the severity of the situation as the 38% of all US exports to China by value are transmitted through the six ports. As a result, the US-China tensions not only affect the ports’ businesses, they also affect the jobs of people depending on trade.
California is the largest exporter to China, in comparison to the other states in the US, as in 2018 Californian ports experienced a 30% decrease in exports to China. Also, wheat exports to China almost ceased in 2019.
According to the letter, the Northwest Seaport Alliance and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exports have declined, including:
- potatoes (-16.85%)
- hay (-49.93%)
- skins and hides (-47.89%)
- salmon (-47.71%)
- cherries (-54.56%)
- fresh crab (-63.34%).
Overall, the letter concludes
We support a balanced trading relationship with our global partners but are deeply concerned that the continued imposition of ever-increasing tariffs leads to higher costs on U.S. businesses and consumers and loss of valuable markets without any long-term strategic benefit.