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U.S.: Ports mark big numbers amid trade war

September and October were record months for many of the ports of U.S. as shippers prepared for a busy holiday shopping season and rushed to get cargo into the U.S. ahead of the Trump administration’s tariffs against several nations, including China.

The Port of Los Angeles processed a record 952,554 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs, in October, a whopping 27.2% increase from 748,762 in the same month in 2017. It was the busiest month in the port’s 111-year history.

“These robust cargo volumes equate to more jobs in the region and across the nation,” Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said.

“It’s a combination of the peak season, which is not atypical this time of year. But, really, it comes back to the threat of the tariffs,” Hackett Associates Economist Paul Bingham told Transport Topics. “It reflects businesses trying to be pragmatic, to say can we bring these goods ahead of the tariffs.”

On Jan. 1, $267 billion in tariffs against China are scheduled to take effect. However, President Donald Trump said on Nov. 16 he has received positive response to some demands from Beijing ahead of his widely anticipated meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, which begins Nov. 30. However, Trump told reporters China’s response was incomplete on some issues.

“China wants to make a deal,” Trump said, according to Bloomberg News. “They sent a list of things they are willing to do, which is a large list, and it is just not acceptable to me yet.” But, with negotiations ongoing, he noted, “We are doing extremely well with respect to China.”

The Port of L.A. estimates the U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods as well as retaliatory duties could impact 15% of the shipments that flow through that facility.

Read more on Transport Topics.


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