US west coast ports take brunt of trade war, and it doesn't look good

US West coast seaports are bracing to bear the brunt of the Sino-American trade war, and it does not look good, reports London's Daily Telegraph

09 June 2019 - 19:00

US West coast seaports are bracing to bear the brunt of the Sino-American trade war, and it does not look good, reports London's Daily Telegraph.

'The volume of US exports going through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to China is down by nearly 35 per cent from last year. Imports are down by 12.6 per cent from last year,' said Beacons Economics analyst Jock O'Connell.

'If you look at the amount of trade that goes through these ports, it's off by over 14 per cent since last year, and it's particularly down with respect to exports,' he said.

Said Port of Seattle spokesman Eric Schinfeld: 'For most businesses, including ours, the worst thing is the lack of predictability. So all of these changes - new tariffs, uncertainty about whether or not there will be negotiations or a settlement between the US and China - it just makes it hard for us to plan.'

On May 10, the US raised tariffs on USUS$200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. It has also threatened to place tariffs on a group of products worth $300 billion. China retaliated by announcing tariffs on $60 billion of imports from the US.

Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero said its harbour operations generate 555,000 jobs in southern California, along with 2.6 million directly and indirectly in the supply chain throughout the US.

Tariffs before those imposed this year had not necessarily had a significant impact on jobs, Mr Cordero said. 'But the scenario has since changed. We are talking about a different level now - a level of 25 per cent on application, a level of tariffs on an escalating number of products. That presents potential job losses.'

According to the United States Trade Representative Office, China is the US's largest goods trading partner, with total two-way trade last year reaching $659.8 billion.

China, the US's third largest trading partner, represents 13.1 per cent of its total foreign trade this year, the US Census Bureau reported. Some port executives fear the trade war will further exacerbate a continuing trade imbalance between the US and China and pose additional challenges to supply chains at ports around the US.

Said Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield: 'What we saw last year at the Port of Los Angeles was an increase in imports, and a decrease in exports. In terms of trade with China, imports were up nine per cent last year, while exports were down by nearly 20 per cent, and that's also the case for the first quarter as well.'


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