Concern over trade tariffs impact

Port of Los Angeles 25% of laden cargo could be impacted by tariffs at the Port of Los Angeles. Credit: Port of Los Angeles

Following the US government’s imposition of an additional US$200bn in protective trade tariffs against Chinese imports, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has voiced its concern over the impact on jobs and retaliatory responses.

The new tariffs take effect on September 24, 2018 with the imposition of a 10% tariff which will increase to 25% by the end of the year.

AAPA president and CEO Kurt Nagle said: “Including the additional $200 billion just imposed, the total Section 301 tariffs on Chinese commodities and China’s response in retaliation responses covers about 10 percent of all trade that moves through America’s ports by value, which is concerning.”

He added: “Because trade supports everyone, AAPA is encouraging federal policymakers to work swiftly to restore market certainties and forge paths to expand U.S. exports, rather than create new import restrictions.”

He noted that port cranes had been removed from the tariff list. If a tariff had been put into effect this would have hampered the ability of ports to handle larger vessels and “hurt U.S. international competitiveness,” he stated.

Speaking to CNN on 17 September, Gene Seroka executive director at the Port of Los Angeles, warned 25% of laden cargo could be impacted by tariffs at the Port of Los Angeles.

He said that there could be higher prices for consumers, margin cuts for companies which could impact hiring and a shift in trade values “making the supply chain a little bit murky.”

Speaking about the impact of tariffs on ports, he said: “The tariff back and forth and threats of tariffs really are creating a lot of uncertainty in our industry and we just don’t handle that very well.

“Getting down to the negotiating table and making sure we can cut deals are very important to us and as we’ve said previously we back 100% to make sure that we have a rules-based trade and investment system that supports our nation’s companies and workers and the ability for that to move forward so we can start moving the goods again is of greatest importance to us.”

The impact from tariffs so far has seen orders brought forward at LA by some of the major importers in the US, but Mr Seroka explained that the port’s investments in digitalisation has enabled it to cope with this.

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