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US ports brace for less cargo, revenue as US-China trade row escalates

2018-10-10

THE tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China is sending shivers down the spines of America's port authorities that fear the intensifying trade row will crimp shipments and lower port revenues.

American Association of Port Authorities head Kurt Nagle described the state of play "concerning", following the latest back-and-forth last week between the US and China, reported AFP.


"The total amount of tariffs and international retaliation affect 10 per cent of the total trade in American ports," equivalent to US$160 billion in revenues, Mr Nagle said.


The trade row so far has had a mixed effect, with some ports experiencing sharp drops in some products, while others report a surge in activity intended to beat the new tariffs.


In the first half of the year the port of New Orleans registered a year-on-year decrease of 350,000 tonnes of steel.


"It represents between $3 million and $5 million," port vice-president Robert Landry was quoted as saying. "For us it's very big."


The New Orleans port also suffered a 10 per cent decrease in aluminium imports, while retaliatory Chinese tariffs on poultry have hit those exports.


Conversely, with new tariffs looming in the US-China standoff, the port of Los Angeles has seen a jump in some products.


"In May, June and July cargo owners tried to beat the volumes," said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield, for which China is a key market, accounting last year for half its trade in total value.


However, the acceleration earlier this year may lose momentum after the US last week announced tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, a move quickly followed by the Chinese rebuttal to impose levies on $60 billion of US goods.

 
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