China-U.S. Trade War: Retail Imports Stagnate as Talks Wrap Up

Tianjin port
Imported Mercedes Benz cars are seen next to containers at Tianjin Port, in northern China February 23, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee)

A retail trade report released Tuesday states that big U.S. container ports started leveling off on imports, as trade negotiations between China and the U.S wrap up.

According to Reuters, ports under the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates' Global Port Tracker saw 1.81 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in November 2018 but the numbers are down by 11.4 percent, compared to the records from October. The U.S. has stated that it will further increase tariffs by up to 25 percent on approximately $250 billion Chinese import products if an agreement isn't settled by March.

In December, China and the U.S. agreed on a tariff truce that will last for 90 days. Trade talks have concluded but the trade war has already stirred up concerns in the global market even before meetings started.

Aside from the stagnant import problem, the tariff truce has also seemingly affected other industries. Over the past couple of weeks, tech companies have started laying off workers. Analysts cite the tumultuous trade war as an aspect for China's tech industry issues. On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump has stated that a silver lining may be just around the bend. He tweeted, "Talks with China are going very well!"

Trade negotiations between China and the United States have been wrapped up and spectators will soon get the detailed results. Trump seems very optimistic about the conclusion of the bilateral talks in Beijing and Asian stocks have gone on an upward scale, CNBC reported.

Originally, the trade talks should have ended on Tuesday but the extension until Wednesday sparked high hopes for an amicable resolution to the trade war. U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs said of the meetings, "I think they went just fine." China has yet to provide a statement.

Despite the silence from Chinese President Xi Jinping's side, experts have commented that Vice Premier Liu He's attendance during the first day of trade talks is China's way of expressing goodwill. It has been reported that China is eager to end the trade dispute but analysts believe only a compromise from both sides will prompt a deal.

Another move that gained applause from analysts is China's decision to finally approve the import of five crops that should help the farming industry of both countries. The import-approved crops have been genetically-modified.

Results of the trade talks are expected to further affect the activity on retail ports both in China and the U.S.

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