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American ShipperContainerMaritimeNewsOcean shipping

Ports want container cranes excluded from new tariff list

American Association of Port Authorities says duties on Chinese cranes would reduce the ability of ports to pay for other infrastructure.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) says it is concerned about the impact of the new 10% tariffs against Chinese imports that President Trump has said will be imposed Sept. 1 on $300 billion of goods and products coming from China into the United States.

 The 10% tariffs are in addition to 25% tariffs already in place on $250 billion of Chinese goods.

“AAPA is very concerned about the president’s renewed threat to increase tariffs on Chinese goods and the expected actions that the Chinese government will make in retaliation,” said Susan Monteverde, AAPA’s vice president of government relations. “Among the biggest ticket items on the tariffs list are multimillion dollar ship-to-shore gantry cranes used by American ports to load and unload containers from today’s giant cargo ships. The president has the authority to de-list these cranes from the tariffs schedule and we urge him to it.”

On June 21, AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle testified as part of a panel organized by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) about the significant consequences of expanded tariffs on ship-to-shore cranes. He made the point that, at a cost of up to $14 million per crane, an additional 25% tariff, which the president had earlier threatened to impose, would significantly increase the cost of each crane and reduce the ability of ports to make other needed infrastructure investments to improve the supply chain. 

During those hearings, representatives for the Virginia Port Authority, Port Everglades and the Port of New Orleans also testified about the economic harm these recently proposed Section 301 tariffs will bring to their state’s employers, workers and communities. Other U.S. seaports submitted similar written comments to the USTR.

In a series of comments posted via his Twitter account Thursday, the president said, “We thought we had a deal with China three months ago, but sadly, China decided to re-negotiate the deal prior to signing.” He also said China is not buying agricultural products and is not stopping the flow of the powerful opioid fentanyl to the U.S.

AAPA said it fully supports a nationwide campaign against tariffs called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.

That group’s spokesman, Jonathan Gold, who is also vice president of supply chain and customs service at the National Retail Federation, said the Trump administration “is doubling down on a failing strategy. Nobody wins in a trade war, and raising tariffs further on American businesses and consumers will only result in slower economic growth, more farm bankruptcies, fewer jobs and higher prices. These new tariffs will target the products American families buy every day, ranging from shoes and apparel to toys and electronics. 
   “We all agree China is a bad actor, but an unprecedented tax hike on hardworking Americans is not the answer. It’s time for the administration to come up with a real strategy, put a stop to harmful tariffs and finally deliver the trade deal Americans were promised,” Gold said.

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Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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