Today’s Pickup: And so it begins, trade war rhetoric escalates

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

President Trump threatened a major escalation in trade tensions with Beijing on Thursday, saying he was now considering imposing tariffs on an additional $100 billion in imports from China. Such a move would triple the amount of Chinese goods facing levies when entering the U.S., up from the $50 billion in imports from China previously announced.

Trump, who justified the tariffs on Chinese imports by citing alleged violations of U.S. intellectual property laws, said Thursday that an escalation would be due to Beijing’s “unfair retaliation,” which could “harm our farmers and manufacturers.”

Trump also said he would instruct the Agriculture Secretary to put together a plan “to protect our farmers and agricultural interests.”

In response to the possible new U.S. tariffs, China’s Commerce Ministry said Beijing would respond with its own countermeasures should it come to that. “The Chinese side will follow suit to the end, not hesitate to pay any price, resolutely counterattack and take new comprehensive measures in response,” a ministry statement said citing an unnamed spokesman.

Did you know?

The first tractor trailer was invented in 1914 by Charles Freuhauf, who was a German-American blacksmith.  Freuhauf built the truck in Detroit at a merchant’s request to transport his boat to the Ford Motor Company.  Freuhauf was then asked to build a similar tractor trailer to haul lumber, leading him to establish the Freuhauf Trailer Company in 1918.


“Comparing pay with the consumer price index, drivers would need to be making twice of what they are getting paid right now.”

-Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA

In other news:

Shipping worried as world trade tensions escalate

Predictions about a freight market recovery in the dry bulk and container markets can be left high and dry, if the unexpected factor of a trade war comes to fruition.  (Hellenic Shipping News)

US rail traffic up 5% in March

Combined, U.S. carload and intermodal traffic climbed 5 percent to 2,132,892 units for the month compared to a year ago, according to Association for American Railroads (AAR) data. (Progressive Railroading)

The wild card in the air freight game

2018 clearly got off to a strong start. But the real question is: Now what? (Cargo Facts)

Teamsters target XPO Logistics’ Memphis facility

Teamsters chief James P. Hoffa pledged Tuesday to back Memphis warehouse workers who complained about working conditions and their company’s response to an on-the-job death. (Commercial Appeal)

Amazon and UPS were quietly fighting over the post office’s cost structure long before Trump

The central issue is the 5.5 percent minimum “institutional” cost contribution requirement from the post office’s package business, which competes with UPS and FedEx. (CNBC)

Final thoughts:

In 2017, the total container volume of car exports from the U.S. grew to 757,327 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a standard measure for container cargo, up 12% from 678,323 TEUs in 2016, according to IHS Markit. Hurricane Harvey left around 600,000 heavily damaged cars in its wake in the Houston area, according to research firm Cox Automotive.

Overseas demand has been a boon to companies that specialize in the logistics of international auto transport. Gediminas Garmus, chief executive of Savannah, Ga.-based W8 Shipping, said his auto-export business grew about 70% to 65,000 vehicles in 2017. The company had to lease additional lots to hold the cars, and Mr. Garmus said many vehicles are still waiting for transport.

Hammer down everyone!

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.