Despite a dip in cargo traffic in July, overall containerized cargo volumes moving through the Port of Long Beach this year are outpacing 2017, the busiest-ever year in the port’s history. The looming question is whether or not that pace can be sustained as the implementation of tariffs continues to escalate between the United States and China.

 

The Trump administration levied an additional 25% on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports on August 7. The Chinese government quickly responded by acting in kind, hitting the United States with 25% on goods equivalent in value. The U.S. had already imposed tariffs on about $34 billion worth of Chinese imports in July, at which time China had also returned the favor.

 

The majority of trade flowing through the Port of Long Beach goes to or comes from China. Asked how the tariffs could impact the outlook for trade at the port, Executive Director Mario Cordero responded to the Business Journal with the following:

 

“The Port of Long Beach is on track for our best year ever. Through the first seven months of 2018, our volumes are 11.3% higher than in 2017, which was the busiest in our 107-year history. We are supporting thousands of supply chain jobs here and across the country.

 

“That’s what makes these trade disputes with China and other nations unfortunate. It comes at a time when the U.S. economy is doing well, and global trade is adding more jobs.

 

“We’ve seen standoffs in international commerce before, and there’s still time to resolve differences, but recent tit-for-tat measures aimed at imports and exports could cause long-term damage and harm American consumers and businesses.”

 

Containerized cargo traffic moving through the port decreased 4.4% in July compared to the same month in 2017. In an official statement from the port, the decrease was attributed to changes in vessel deployments on the part of shipping alliances, but port officials also expressed concern over tariff escalations moving forward.

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