Government Policy

US ports fear they will be big losers in trade war

America's ports are fearful that they

will be big losers as the escalating trade fight between Washington and

Beijing bites into business.

The anxiety is that tit-for-tat tariffs between the two economic

superpowers will crimp shipments, denting port revenues.

Kurt Nagle, head of the American Association of Port Authorities, called

the state of play concerning, following the latest back-and-forth this week

between the United States and China.

The total amount of tariffs and international retaliation affect 10

percent of the total trade in American ports, or about $160 billion in

revenues, Nagle said.

The various trade wars thus far have had a mixed effect, with some ports

seeing sharp declines in some products, even as others report a surge in

activity intended to beat the new levies.

The mammoth US economy is sustained by about 100 ports around the country

that manage the flow of goods inward and outbound at points of embarkation

along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great


In the first six months of 2018, the port of New Orleans saw a drop of

350,000 tons of steel compared with the year-ago period, a big hit for a

flagship product that is used in a petroleum-focused region.

It represents between three and five million dollars, said Robert

Landry, vice president of the Port of New Orleans. For us it's very big.

Major sources of the steel include Turkey, China and South Korea. All but

South Korea were affected by a 25 percent tariff on steel imposed by US

President Donald Trump this spring.

The New Orleans port also suffered a 10 percent drop in aluminum imports,

which was also included in the same tariff action, while retaliatory Chinese

tariffs on poultry have hit those exports.

� Los Angeles surge �

Meanwhile, with new tariffs looming in the US-China standoff, the Port of

Los Angeles has seen a surge in some products.

In May, June and July, cargo owners tried to beat the volumes, said

Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the port, for which China is a key market,

accounting last year for about half its trade in total value.

But the acceleration earlier this year may not last after the United

States this week announced tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, a

move quickly followed by the Chinese rebuttal to impose levies on $60 billion

in US goods.

Trade war fears are also a source of unease for port workers, particularly

in areas like southern California where the ports of Los Angeles and Long

Beach account for one in nine jobs. There are about three million port

workers nationwide.

But that angst extends to other regions.

The East Coast ports in New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Virginia will

also be very affected, Sanfield said.

The trade war has also worried the maritime shipping industry, which deals

in $4.6 trillion worth of goods annually, employs 23 million people and pays

$320 billion in taxes each year, according to the AAPA.

Landry of the New Orleans port said he was optimistic of an eventual


I just don't know how long it's gonna take, he said.

We can probably take another six months, but at some point it's going to

be very hard to face the situation.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)