It’s beginning to look a lot like ... shippers are getting nervous. Please forgive the riff on a familiar holiday classic tune, but reports of shippers rushing to get goods to the United States in advance of more tariffs taking effect — and, thus, potentially affecting the pricing for holiday gifts — have been dominating the news and are found in the pages of this issue.
Our nation’s ports have been reporting record-setting traffic for months, with port executives broadly commenting that fear of an enduring trade war is compelling overseas shippers to rush goods to the United States. In the short term, this could mean that consumers may be spared the sting of higher prices brought about from manufacturers raising prices on goods to account for new and higher tariffs. Longer-term, however, fear remains.
Most people support the notion of fair trade — two (or more) sides getting a fair shake on both import and export of goods. But as soon as one party (or more) starts to feel like the scales are tipping against it — and takes specific action to swing that pendulum — the notion of a fair trading system begins to break down. And that comes down to economics; it’s hard to ensure that manufacturers and consumers on all sides of a trade partnership are going to sell and buy in equal numbers. The best one can hope for is a fair system; supply and demand can handle the rest.
President Donald Trump has been steadfast in his belief that the United States isn’t getting a fair shake globally — specifically, with China. His tough talk on NAFTA brought Mexico and Canada to the bargaining table and has so far led to a deal with Mexico. Talks continue with Canada, and we hope an agreement can be reached. Keeping trade moving among our neighbors is good for the U.S. economy, and good for trucking.
The same is true for international shipping. Goods arriving at the ports are loaded onto trucks, and from there make their way across the country. Onto store shelves, into businesses and homes.
There’s a rush to get as many of those goods into the country as soon as possible, as Trump’s tough talk, and tough tariffs, are causing global concern.
We’re all for fair trade, and are hopeful that — like with NAFTA — some new deals are reached with China to keeps good moving into the ports and onto trucks on terms that are agreeable to all interested parties. After all, no one wants a trade policy that is a proverbial lump of coal.