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HANSA 03-2019

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Häfen | Ports

Häfen | Ports Successful U.S. ports insist on investments The business of the U.S. port industry is currently significantly affected by trade policies and tariff disputes of the Trump administration. However, the ports are primarily looking to the medium to long-term future and the need for a modern infrastructure. By Michael Meyer By just about anyone’s standard, 2018 was a good year for maritime cargo volume throughput for America’s seaports«, Kurt Nagle, CEO of American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), tells HANSA. From January to October total U.S. waterborne foreign trade rose by 5.7% to 1.213 mill. t, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Remarkably enough, there was quite an imbalance, with exports rising 13.6% to 651,000 t and imports declining 2.2% to 562,100 t. In terms of the value of these trades, there was a growth of 11.1% to 1.470 mill. $, with 486 mill. $ exports (+13.3%) and 983 mill. $ imports (+10%). For 2018, many U.S. ports announced they were experiencing record or greatly increased cargo volumes, based on a number of factors, including a strong American economy, enhanced demand for American exports, competitive freight rates and a desire by importers and shipping lines to land import cargoes into the U.S. before implementation of higher tariffs. The American economy saw strong gains in the first nine months of 2018, which helped generate greater demand for goods, particularly U.S. imports. But there are challenging effects from the national trade policies of President Donald Trump and his administration, too. »One of the key changes, however, particularly for steel and aluminium in the first half of 2018, was that relatively hefty U.S. import tariffs were imposed on these products beginning on March 23«, Nagle adds. On Oct. 1, a 10% tariff increase was imposed on many imported goods, mostly from China, that reduced demand for Chinese imports once the second »tranche« of tariffs was implemented in fall. Another tariff rise potentially is slated for March 1, 2019. The tariffs on steel and aluminium were reportedly made to encourage increased U.S. production of those metals, while the increase in tariffs on Chinese goods were reportedly made to discourage China from stealing U.S. intellectual property. The AAPA CEO reports »an almost universal prediction by trade industry prognosticators« that the U.S. will likely see lower cargo volumes in 2019 than in 2018. Reasons for that are, amongst others, the uncertainties surrounding the »trade war« and the fact that the growth of 2018 can be largely attributed to pulling import cargoes forward in an effort to avoid tariffs. Shipping organization Bimco presented that argument: »With container imports down in November on both coasts, the effects of full inventories and the result of the ongoing negotiations between China and the US will heavily influence what 2019 will have in store for container ports in the U.S.«, Chief Shipping Analyst Peter Sand stated. Currently 27.49 mill. t of U.S. containerized imports are affected by the tariffs which represents 14.2% of total U.S. container imports or 24.7% of those imported on the West Coast. However, AAPA remains hopeful that some of the initiatives the association is advocating will result in greater supply chain and cost efficiencies, leading to lower transportation costs for exporters and importers, and consequently, lower prices for goods and increased consumer demand. He names industry’s equity solution to Harbor Maintenance Tax Philadelphia claims to be one of the leading hubs for food and agricultural products in the U.S. © PhilaPort 78 HANSA International Maritime Journal – 156. Jahrgang – 2019 – Nr. 3

Häfen | Ports U.S. Waterborne Foreign Trade October January – October 2018 2017 Change 2018 2017 Change VOLUME - Metric Tons (000s) Exports 69.510 67.094 3,6% 651.314 573.193 13,6% Imports 56.303 56.119 0,3% 562.111 574.545 -2,2% TOTAL TRADE 125.813 123.213 2,1% 1.213.425 1.147.739 5,7% VALUE (Millions of Current U.S. Dollars) Exports .115 .762 6,9% 6.479 9.467 13,3% Imports 8.300 .270 12,5% 3.642 4.006 10,0% TOTAL TRADE 0.414 5.031 10,6% .470.121 .323.473 11,1% Source: U.S. Census Bureau, FT920 - U.S. Merchandise Trade: Selected Highlights (HMT) distributions, removing the intermodal cap on FAST Act INFRA grants for funding port-related infrastructure, increasing allocations for port-related projects in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s annual BUILD infrastructure grants, and increasing staffing and resources for Customs and Border Protection at U.S. seaports. Notwithstanding that, AAPA believes the biggest challenges for U.S. ports in the near- and mid-term is to improve the transportation infrastructure, on both the landside and waterside. According to the association, seaport activity supports 23 million American jobs and generates 321 bn $ in federal, state and local tax revenue each year. The total value of economic activity related to America’s seaports is 4.6 tr $, representing 26% of the U.S. economy. However, freight connections to U.S. ports »are falling behind 21st century needs«, Nagle says, adding »We must prepare the nation’s infrastructure to meet a growing demand for the safe, efficient movement of freight.« One point of criticism relates to »First and last mile«. One-third of AAPA member ports say congestion at landside connectors has caused productivity to decline by 25% or more over the past 10 years. Nearly 80% of ports in the U.S. require at least 10 mill.$ investment in their landside connectors through 2025; 31% require over 100 mill. $. AAPA urges Congress and the Administration to support infrastructure policies that include robust freight transportation provisions and sustainable funding for the nation’s seaports. Recommended action for federal policymakers include the modernization and maintenance of navigation channels through waterside investments. »The Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Navigation Program saw overwhelming bipartisan support through the Water Resources Development Act of 2018, but funding, donor equity, and efficiency challenges remain«, Nagle claims. Record volumes in California On the West Coast, main container hubs Los Angeles and Long Beach recorded their highest container volumes ever in 2018. The Port of Los Angeles moved 9,458,749 TEUs, 1.2% more than 2017’s record-breaking year. Top trading partners are China/ Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan. »2018 was marked by a robust economy coupled with tariff-induced surges of cargo headed to U.S. retail and manufacturing sectors,« said Executive Director Gene Seroka. »These extraordinary volumes highlight the need for continued stakeholder collaboration on methods to maximize supply chain efficiency. Through a number of initiatives, we are focused on both physical and digital infrastructure enhancements.« For the time after Chinese New Year, the port expects to likely see a tapering off in imports. »Obviously, the discussions currently taking place between the United States and China regarding tariffs and trade will have a significant impact on trade. Like the rest of the world, we are waiting to see how this is resolved«, the port authority emphasizes in response to HANSA. Long Beach reported, »for the first time in its 108-year history«, a throug- © U.S. Census Bureau One of the major U.S. gateways: the port of Long Beach © POLB HANSA International Maritime Journal – 156. Jahrgang – 2019 – Nr. 3 79

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