As the US continues to negotiate more favorable terms of its trade policy, a first round of tariffs on China originally covering 818 tariff lines worth $34 billion of 2017 import value has escalated to $200 billion of Chinese goods, with a bigger wave of measures also in the pipeline. With the $200 billion round of tariffs looming, China’s economy is slowing down hurting its financial markets and its huge export industry. On the other side of international trade transactions, retaliatory tariffs could close major markets for US exports hurting the manufacturing and ultimately the US economy.
While a number of interesting points are made in this article, ultimately, container imports are driven by the demands of the larger economy. As long as real GDP continues to expand at a healthy rate, so too will container imports, and port volumes. While tariffs have the potential to impact bilateral trade, the most likely outcome is a gradual shift in sourcing from China to other Asian countries. At this point in time, Mercator does not expect to see a meaningful impact on the number of TEUs moving over North American container terminals.
The article can be accessed here.