A lot is happening in the world of global shipping, trade, and logistics as 2019 comes to a close. Below are some highlights to be aware of.
The shipping landscape has changed throughout 2019.
The U.S. has seen sharp declines in loads available for freight delivery – in particular, West Coast freight deliveries. As seen in the chart below, the West Coast is much lower when compared to other U.S. regions. This time of year is typically the peak season for truck drivers in Southern California. Unfortunately, normal season patterns have been disrupted due to the U.S.-China trade war.
The West Coast port of Los Angeles-Long Beach is still the largest port – America’s top gateway for Chinese trade.
Gulf Coast/East Coast ports are gaining ground and have seen impressive year-over-year growth. Cargo volumes at the Port of Houston are leading the way with a 10.3% increase, from two million TEUs in 2017 to 2.2 million TEUs in 2018. The long-anticipated resin boom is finally here, so Houston will continue to see rapid growth. East Coast ports such as New York-New Jersey and Savannah have also seen solid gains. New York-New Jersey saw 6.7% year-over-year growth, from 2017 to 2018, and Savannah saw 7.4%. The number that stands out the most is the decrease of China and Hong Kong imports into the U.S. There has been approximately a 750,000 TEU decrease since 2018.
There is light at the end of the tunnel for this trade war which started in early 2018.
Last week, the U.S. and China agreed to a trade pact set for January. The “phase one” agreement is now on paper and should be finalized. Per U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “I don’t expect there’s any changes. We’ll sign the agreement in the beginning of January.” The deal includes Chinese commitments to make purchases within the next two years of $200 billion worth of U.S. goods and services. In return, the U.S. will drop plans to impose another 15% tariff on $160 billion worth of Chinese goods. China says the deal will protect intellectual property rights and expand market access.
Stay tuned for “Phase Two” of the U.S.-China trade deal.
U.S. President Trump stated negotiations towards a phase-two deal will begin immediately, rather than waiting until after the 2020 election. According to Xinhua, China’s official state-run news agency, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is concerned about U.S. involvement in China’s internal affairs, such as the U.S.’s recent involvement in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. However, Xi Jinping will keep discussions open to “exchange views on bilateral relations and international issues, and jointly advance China-U.S. relations based on coordination, cooperation, and stability.”