Shippers Seeking to Get Ahead of Planned Tariffs

Shippers trying to get ahead of planned December tariffs have significantly boosted their import activity last month, the National Retail Federation said this week.

In a report compiled in association with consulting firm Hackett Associates, the trade group said container volume at the nation’s major ports surged as retailers imported merchandise ahead of new imposition of the tariffs.

Although the Trump administration announced in October a tentative agreement on a partial trade pact with China that would negate the tariffs, that deal has yet to be finalized.

The tariffs on consumer goods are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15.
“At this point, holiday merchandise is already in the country, so the direct impact of new tariffs won’t be seen until the season is over,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a news release.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.88 million 20-foot equivalent units in October. Although that was an increase of 0.6 percent over September it was 7.5 percent below the record 2 million TEUs set in October 2018.

November volume jumped to 1.95 million TEUs, up 8 percent year over year as retailers sought to build inventories ahead of the scheduled tariffs.

The November figure was the highest number since 1.97 million TEUs in August, when retailers took the same approach ahead of tariffs that took effect in September, NRF officials said.

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