COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Top U.S. importers are stocking up on Chinese goods before new import tariffs take effect, shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said on Wednesday (Nov. 14), but warned a trade war would hit demand for container shipping in the coming years.
Maersk’s data indicated that imports into the United States from China had grown 5 to 10 percent year-on-year in the third quarter as companies such as Walmart and Home Depot built up inventories to avoid new import tariffs, Chief Executive Soren Skou said.
“The irony is that after (U.S. President Donald) Trump has turned up the rhetoric, the United States has started importing even more from China,” Skou told reporters.
“But there will definitely be a price for the container industry to be paid,” he said, noting that the recent spike in shipments would be followed by a slowdown next year.
Chinese imports from the United States were down 25 to 30 percent in the third quarter compared to last year, Maersk shipping data indicated.
The effect of trade tensions could reduce global container trade by between 0.5 and 2 percent in 2019 and 2020, Maersk said as it presented results for the July-September quarter.