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Imports fall again at LA-LB ports


THE 18-month trade war between the US and China continues to hurt the San Pedro Bay ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where imports were down in September compared to the same period in the previous year.

The nation's two largest ports have seen five months of declining or flat imports and 11 months of falling exports, which port officials attribute to trade tensions.

The twin ports brought in 757,239 TEU in September, a 1.9 per cent drop from the 771,583 TEU that passed through the port in September 2018, reports the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Exports fell more dramatically to 253,984 TEU, down 5.4 per cent from September 2018 when 268,561 TEU shipped out of the ports. Overall volume dropped 2.8 per cent to 1.49 million TEU.

The region's ports are the nation's biggest gateway for Chinese imports, and port officials are waiting to see if a tentative truce in the trade war limits or even halts proposed tariffs.

On October 11, the Trump administration announced a "first phase" deal with China that would address intellectual property concerns raised by the US. That proposal would also increase purchases of US agricultural products by China.

The US, in turn, agreed to hold off on an increase in tariffs planned for October 15 when US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods would have faced a 30 per cent levy.

The first phase deal has yet to be signed, and another round of tariffs is slated for December.

Until recently, import numbers have often been viewed as a sign of consumer appetite. But with the ongoing tensions between the two countries, port data has recently become a better barometer.

Those two factors appear to be merging as signs of a slowing global economy are partly blamed on the tensions between the two mammoth economies.

Last week, US Commerce Department reported retail sales dropped in September - the first decline in seven months, an indication of slowing consumer spending.

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