Oct 10, 2019

U.S. retail imports are surging ahead of new tariffs

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Data: National Retail Federation, Hackett Associates; Chart: Axios Visuals

Ahead of expected tariff increases on consumer goods from China, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to hit their highest level of the year in November.

Why it matters: The report is the latest data point to show that President Trump's trade war is spurring an increase, rather than a decrease, in buying from China and other foreign exporters. The pace of imports at retail container ports has consistently risen during Trump's time in office.

  • This year also is expected to top 2018's record high for retail imports, according to a report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

What they're saying: “This is the last chance to bring merchandise into the country before virtually everything the United States imports from China comes under tariffs,” Jonathan Gold, NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy, said in a statement.

  • “Retailers are doing all they can to mitigate the impact of tariffs on their customers. The effect on prices will vary by retailer and product during the holiday season, but ultimately these taxes on America businesses and consumers will result in higher prices.”

The bottom line: New tariffs on a range of Chinese goods took effect at the beginning of September and are scheduled to be expanded on Dec. 15 — covering nearly every good traded between the 2 countries.

  • The Trump administration also plans to increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports already imposed over the past year to 30%, from 25%, on Oct. 15.

Go deeper

WSJ: Tariff revenue spiked to a record $7 billion in September

A truck passes by China shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. amassed $7 billion in import tariffs in September, a 9% jump from figures in August and a 59% year-over-year increase due to new taxes on consumer goods, figures compiled by the Commerce Department show, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: President Trump has falsely said China is paying for the tariffs. Business executives and economists generally recognize the revenue as a growing burden on American importers and U.S. customers.

Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019

Trump says U.S. and China reach partial trade agreement

Illustration: Axios Visuals

President Trump said the U.S. and China reached a partial trade deal on Friday that included an agreement from the U.S. to suspend a planned 30% tariff spike on Oct. 15, while China will buy $40-50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods.

Why it matters: The ceasefire comes as the U.S. economy is showing signs of weakness as a result of the trade war — threatening the economic gains Trump has counted on to carry him to re-election in 2020.

Go deeperArrowOct 11, 2019

A crisis for retail jobs

Outside a Target in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A collision of forces — automation, e-commerce and stagnating wages — is squeezing retail jobs in the U.S.

Why it matters: With more than 15 million jobs, the retail industry is America's biggest employer. A hit to this sector would reverberate across the economy.