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US ports fear they will be big losers in trade war

US ports fear they will be big losers in trade war

NEW YORK: America’s ports are fearful that they will be big losers as the escalating trade fight between Washington and Beijing bites into business.

The anxiety is that tit-for-tat tariffs between the two economic superpowers will crimp shipments, denting port revenues.

Mr Kurt Nagle, head of the American Association of Port Authorities, called the state of play “concerning”, following the latest back-and-forth last week between the United States and China.

The various trade wars thus far have had a mixed effect, with some ports seeing sharp declines in some products, even as others report a surge in activity intended to beat the new levies.

The mammoth US economy is sustained by about 100 ports around the country that manage the flow of goods inward and outbound at points of embarkation along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.

In the first six months of this year, the port of New Orleans saw a drop of about 350,000 tonnes of steel compared with the same period a year ago, a big hit for a flagship product that is used in a petroleum-focused region.

“The total amount of tariffs and international retaliation affect 10 per cent of the total trade in American ports”, or about US$160 billion (S$219 billion) in revenues, Mr Nagle said.