Tuesday, April 24, 2018

US Seaports Point Out Value of Import and Export Trade as Government Sanctions Loom

Billions in Infrastructure Investment Under Threat from Government Policy
Shipping News Feature
US – As fears of a full blown trade war looms between China and the US so the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has written to the United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, pointing out the pitfalls of taking out sanctions against trading partners. The carefully worded letter has a distinctly admonishing tone amongst all the plaudits for President Trump's 'America First' policy.

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle points out that it is his members, the assorted ports across the US and their private sector partners, which have scheduled $155 billion in investments to build US infrastructure betwen 2016 and 2020 (something successive governments have struggled to manage). Further comment hints that an ‘unstable’ trade environment may preclude such financing as doubts exist as to the levels of future trade.

Mr Nagle also point out other major factors to maintain a balanced trade which never seem to warrant a mention in the Trump rhetoric. Firstly the seaports see 15,000 jobs created for every $1 billion in US exports shipped, these ‘vital economic engines’ generate over $4.5 billion in annual economic activity. The other fact often given little or no consideration is the very basic principal which runs through much of the current global trade market, the fact that much of what ships in or out is not actually finished product.

Automotive parts switch across borders and back again to accommodate different stages of production. Raw materials, machinery, seeds and fertilisers transfer from country to country, crops grow and ship again for processing into retail items, foodstuffs, clothing etc. It would seem Mr Trump’s ‘dumping’ is the AAPA’s free trade. Whilst avoiding a mention of specific sanctions the AAPA letter asks for ‘fair and equitable trade’ and concludes:

“America has always been a trading and maritime nation. It has made our country strong and a world leader in international trade. We believe it’s vital that the US economy and jobs can continue to benefit from jobs generated by trade, both exports and imports.”