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Retail imports remain at near-record highs despite Trump tariffs

GREAT FALLS, MT - JULY 05: U.S. president Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Four Seasons Arena on July 5, 2018 in Great Falls, Montana. President Trump held a campaign style 'Make America Great Again' rally in Great Falls, Montana with thousands in attendance. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to continue at near-record levels this month and the remainder of the year despite a new round of tariffs on goods from China.

The news comes according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

NRF VP for supply chain and customs, Jonathan Gold, said: “Even with virtually everything American imports from China soon to be subject to tariffs, it isn’t quick or easy for retailers to change their supply chains.”


Adding: “That means American families are ultimately going to pay more for goods they can’t do without. And even if sourcing eventually shifts away from China, it will simply come from other countries. It’s time to stop punishing American businesses, workers and families for China’s wrongdoing.”

President Trump announced last week that new 10% tariffs on an additional $300bn in Chinese goods will take effect from September 1.

This is coupled with 25% tariffs imposed on $250 billion worth of imports over the past year meaning the new round will tax almost all goods the United States imports from China.

Meanwhile, according to data released this week by the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland coalition, American importers paid $6 billion in tariffs in June, one of the highest-tariffed months in U.S. history and up 74 percent from the same month last year.

The US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.8m Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available.

That was down 2.9% from May and down 3% year-over-year.

July was estimated at 1.86 million TEU, down 2.6 percent year-over-year. August is forecast at 1.91 million TEU, up 0.6 percent; September at 1.85 million, down 1.1 percent; October at 1.91 million TEU, down 6.2 percent; November at 1.84 million TEU, up 1.8 percent, and December at 1.81 million TEU, down 7.9 percent.

The August and October numbers would be the highest monthly volumes since 1.96 million TEU last December, tying for the third-highest month on record behind that and the all-time record of 2 billion TEU set last October.

The NRF report detailed that while imports will decline year-over-year most months during the remainder of this year, it is largely because of high volumes seen last year as retailers rushed to bring in merchandise ahead of scheduled tariff increases.

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