NEW YORK, 21 August – The latest heels in President Donald Trump's trade war with China set the stage for a potential repeat at the end of 201
US importers, traders and consignors support a new round of criminal charges on Chinese goods that will be hit in two steps, September 1 and December 15, likely to be in a rush to procure products before the holiday season as they did last year .
The wave at the end of 2018 helped major US ports to notch cargo lists all the time. increased costs as importers drove to get their goods under the cord, only to be forced to leave them for exceptionally long periods on ships or in stock, where tight capacity meant premium prices.
"People didn't need the goods that came in. It was simply a financial spectacle to avoid higher taxation," said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
Now, the ports in the front line of the painting trade war between the United States and China are feeling somewhat Deja vu, with Trump's latest tariff message tailored to produce yet another festive speed.
But some experts think the import wave may be more modest this time.
More time for importers
On August 1, Trump announced his plan to impose 10 percent tariffs on $ 300. billion dollars (RM1.25 trillion) in Chinese goods September 1 – targeting all products not affected by previous customs rounds.
But after a call from retailers about the impact on consumers, last week Trump resigned and delayed tariffs on more than half the list, saving toys, cell phones, laptops and other things until December 15.
The new schedule provides a large enough window for senders to consider downloading their order loads, accelerating their orders to beat the new taxes.
Senders ask themselves "Can the factories produce fast enough, can we pre-order? "Seroka told AFP. "It's a similar conversation we had last year."
Joe Shamie, owner of Delta Enterprises, a New York retailer specializing in cots, baby equipment and furniture, plans to speed up orders again this year, although he describes benefits as marginal.
"We will frontload," Shamie told AFP. But, he said, "There are limits to how much I can fund. There are limits to what I can save."
The tariffs on December 15 include strolls for children, highchairs and bouncers – all items sold by Delta.
In 2018, Delta ordered more than 10,000 cots to strike a 25 percent tariff that was expected to take effect January 1, 2019, but was not imposed until May. Delta increased prices to offset the hit, Shamie said.
A big unevenness for ports?
Los Angeles is among the ports that scored record volume in 2018 and has continued to report impressive numbers in 2019, offsetting declining trade with China with increased volume with Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian countries, Seroka said.  Located on the West Coast, Los Angeles and the nearby Long Beach Port, it includes the San Pedro Bay Port complex that relies on China for the vast majority of its value-added trade.
Ports in the northeast, southeast and Gulf Coast benefited less from frontloading, experts said.
Jonathan Gold, Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy of the National Retail Federation, said that importers are still poring over tariff lists released just last week to decide their next step.
"Dealers are still trying to figure out the strategy," he said.
But they are largely unlucky when it comes to the items on the September 1 list because some were already in transit when Trump announced the tariffs.
"It's very difficult to go back and negotiate with your suppliers when the product is already on the water," Gold said.
Limited storage capacity in US ports nationwide poses another challenge, while new low sulfur fuel international standards that come into force on January 1 are likely to put some vessels out of service late in the year for upgrades, said Walter Kemmsies, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate company.
Still, Kemmsies expects a new wave, saying "I think it's going to be filled on every track."
A strong US consumer secures strong demand for product, but depressed trade with China due to previous 25 percent tariff rounds can soften the impact on ports. Recession fears in the United States can also dampen demand.
Daniel Hackett, a partner in Hackett Associates, a trading consultant, predicted less frontloading this time compared to the 25 percent level last year.
"I think we will see a slight shock," he said, adding in an email that "it is very difficult to say what is real when guidelines are announced via Twitter." – AFP