October 23, 2018 - United States-bound waterborne shipments saw solid annual growth in September, according to recent data issued by global trade intelligence firm Panjiva.
September shipments, at 1,050,900, were up 7.3% compared to September 2017, and on a year-to-date basis through September they are up 5.7% to 9,116,507.
Panjiva explained that September shipments were down compared to August on a sequential basis, which is typical, adding that it may have been exacerbated because of the impact of Hurricane Florence on East Coast ports. A year ago trade activity was impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in August and September, respectively.
Not to be overlooked, though, is the tariff impact on U.S. shipments and what Panjiva referred to as the widening trade war between the U.S and China. In September, the U.S. applied 10% tariffs to $200 billion of Chinese exports after imposing $50 billion in tariffs over July and August. This was made even clearer with U.S.-bound shipments from China up 8.7% annually in September, far outpacing the 1% annual gain seen in August.
“There was a rebound in growth in September, coming off of August, which was down,” said Chris Rogers, Panjiva research director, in an interview. “The phased-in implementation of tariffs was a big swing in September, so it is not a surprise there would be a boost in imports from China…even though there would be a slowdown in products impacted by the first round of tariffs. Tariffs will continue to have an impact in the coming months, with October likely to provide a truer sense of what the tariffs look like.”
October also coincides with the Peak Shipping season, with the caveat that a decent amount of shipment types, like apparel and toys, are not impacted by tariffs.
“Things should be business as usual in that area, and it is also worth noting that consumer confidence is still incredibly strong, which suggests that things are likely to remain solid. Business optimism is also solid, even though it is trending down a bit.”
As for the ongoing impact of how tariff activity can impact supply chain planning, Rogers said that many large shippers are not planning any significant changes. One main reason for that, he explained, is that they are unsure of how to react.
“Do they rely on a strong economy in the U.S. and raise their prices and hope for the best?” he asked. “With earnings season here, there may some more visibility into that soon.”
Source: SupplyChain 24/7