The high import levels expected through the summer are driven by a rise in retail sales and plans to increase and broaden the tariffs against China.
Imports at the United States’ major retail container ports are forecast to “see unusually high levels” through the summer and are projected to reach the highest level since last October in August, according to the Global Port Tracker report released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The growth is due to the rise in retail sales and President Donald Trump’s plan to increase and broaden the tariffs against China. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced Wednesday that 10% tariffs across $200 billion worth of goods from China in yearly import value will rise to 25% at 12:01 a.m. Friday. President Trump also mentioned that $325 billion worth of untaxed goods will “shortly” be tariffed at 25%.
“Much of this is driven by consumer demand, but retailers are likely to resume stocking up merchandise before new tariffs can take effect,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “Tariff increases and new tariffs will mean higher costs for U.S. businesses, higher prices for American consumers and lost jobs for many American workers. We encourage the administration to stay focused on a trade agreement, and we hope the negotiations will get back on track. It would be unfortunate to undermine the progress that has been made with more tit-for-tat tariffs that only punish Americans.”
U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million TEUs in March, which is the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. The number was up 4.4% year-over-year but down 0.6% from February.
April was estimated at 1.76 million TEUs, which was a 7.7% year-over-year increase. The Global Port Tracker forecasts May at 1.9 million TEUs, a 4.2% growth; June at 1.92 million TEUs, a 3.7% increase; July at 1.96 million TEUs, up 3%; August at 1.98 million TEUs, a 4.6% growth; and September at 1.91 million TEUs, a 2% increase.
Imports have never reached the 1.9 million TEU mark earlier than July, according to the statement.
The Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, Jacksonville and Houston.