Ports Authority continues to see record shipment levels, though slowdown may be on horizon

Wando Welch Terminal   Wikimedia Commons

The South Carolina Ports Authority continues to post records for shipments and expects December to also be a busy month before an eventual slow down over the next several months due to concerns over U.S tariffs.

SCPA External Affairs Coordinator Kelsi Childress said how this will affect other industries, like the auto industry, is unclear.

"That's something that the auto industry will need to comment on," Childress said in an interview with Palmetto Business Daily. "We expect December to be a busy month, and then as we head into 2019, we expect volumes to slow down a bit. We anticipate it slowing down between February to April."

Childress said November was the authority's strongest November in its history, with 15 percent growth over the same month last year.

"The port handled 188,585 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in November," Childress said. "SCPA has moved 985,981 TEUs across the docks of its Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals since the fiscal year began in July, an increase of 11 percent over the same period last year."

Childress said the authority will continue to run normally into the new year.

"The first calendar quarter of 2019 remains uncertain," Childress said. "We will still conduct business as usual and see what happens."

SCPA has seen high volumes of exports in the last several months. In October it saw an 18.7 percent increase from the previous year. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview with NBC on Wednesday that reducing the tariff on autos could greatly boost trade volume.

"In fact, interestingly one of the big beneficiaries of that is BMW," Ross said in the interview. "They are the largest exporter of autos from the United States. They export about 40 percent of their vehicles to China. That's a very direct help to us and probably will be helpful in the talks we've been having with the German auto manufacturers."

In July, China accused the United States of starting a trade war due to the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post. At the G-20 Summit, Trump agreed to not raise the rate to 25 percent as announced and will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at a rate of 10 percent, CNBC reported.

Several of the United States' trade partners retaliated when Trump's tariffs were announced this year, with China imposing tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods and Canada implementing its own tariffs.

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