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US retail imports surge in November to beat December's proposed tariffs

MAJOR container ports in the US in November recorded a surge in volumes as retailers imported merchandise ahead of new tariffs set to take effect this month, according to the Global Port Tracker report published by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates

11 December 2019 - 19:00

MAJOR container ports in the US in November recorded a surge in volumes as retailers imported merchandise ahead of new tariffs set to take effect this month, according to the Global Port Tracker report published by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

'At this point, holiday merchandise is already in the country, so the direct impact of new tariffs won't be seen until the season is over,' NRF vice president Jonathan Gold was quoted as saying in a report by AJOT.



'Nonetheless, tariffs are bad for both consumer and business confidence, and we hope that the December tariffs will be cancelled or postponed as a sign of good faith. We need a deal with China as soon as possible so we can bring an end to the trade war that has put a drag on the US economy for far too long.'



US President Donald Trump announced a tentative agreement on a partial trade deal with China in October, however, it has not been finalised and a new round of tariffs on consumer goods is still scheduled to take effect on December 15.



'The US consumer has shrugged off the slowdown in the economy,' Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. 'Even though growth has slowed, low unemployment and higher wages have helped bolster purchases and, thereby, imports for consumer goods.'



Nonetheless, the trade war is 'one of the factors that is impacting our forward-looking models as we continue to show slower long-term growth in import volumes,' Mr Hackett said.



US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.88 million TEU in October, an increase of 0.6 per cent against September.



November rose to an estimated 1.95 million TEU, up eight per cent year on year as retailers frontloaded imports ahead of this month's scheduled tariffs. That was the highest number since 1.97 million TEU in August, when retailers did the same in the run up to September's tariffs.



December is expected to drop 8.9 per cent to 1.79 million TEU both because of the new tariffs and the usual falloff in imports as the holiday season winds down.


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