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US retail imports to be at near-record levels in August

Aug '19
Imports at United State's major retail container ports are expected to continue at near-record levels this month and remainder of the year despite a new round of tariffs on goods from China, according to monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. NRF is world’s largest retail trade association.

"Even with virtually everything American imports from China soon to be subject to tariffs, it isn’t quick or easy for retailers to change their supply chains," NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said in a press release by NRF. "That means American families are ultimately going to pay more for goods they can't do without. And even if sourcing eventually shifts away from China, it will simply come from other countries. It's time to stop punishing American businesses, workers and families for China's wrongdoing."

President Trump has announced new 10 per cent tariffs on an additional $300 billon in Chinese goods that will take effect on September 1. Coupled with 25 percent tariffs imposed on $250 billion worth of imports over the past year, the new round will tax almost all goods the US imports from China. Meanwhile, US's tariff bill continues to grow. According to data released this week by the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland coalition, US importers paid $6 billion in tariffs in June, one of the highest-tariffed months in US history and up 74 per cent from the same month last year.

"The uncertainties of the administration's tariff policies continue to vex the markets," Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. "Our overall outlook is more pessimistic than last month, underlining that trade wars are not harbingers of good things to come."

Hackett said the 10 percent tariffs would not likely have an immediate impact on import volumes but an increase to 25 per cent – as happened earlier this year with the most recent previous round of tariffs – "would have a significant impact and would cause us to lower our trade projections further."

US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.8 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 2.9 per cent from May and down 3 per cent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

July was estimated at 1.86 million TEU, down 2.6 per cent year-over-year. August is forecast at 1.91 million TEU, up 0.6 per cent; September at 1.85 million, down 1.1 per cent; October at 1.91 million TEU, down 6.2 per cent; November at 1.84 million TEU, up 1.8 per cent, and December at 1.81 million TEU, down 7.9 per cent.

The August and October numbers would be the highest monthly volumes since 1.96 million TEU last December, tying for the third-highest month on record behind that and the all-time record of 2 billion TEU set last October. While imports will decline year-over-year most months during the remainder of this year, that is largely because of high volumes seen last year as retailers rushed to bring in merchandise ahead of scheduled tariff increases.

The first half of 2019 totalled 10.5 million TEU, up 2.1 per cent over the first half of 2018, and 2019 is expected to total 21.7 million TEU. That would come within 0.4 per cent of last year's record 21.8 million TEU, which was up an unusually high 6.2 per cent over 2017.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the US ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast. (PC)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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