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Port Report: Trans-Pacific outlook worsens on U.S.-China trade tiff

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The U.S.-China trade talks throw another curveball at shippers and leave no time to move containers ahead of new tariffs. Market experts see no quick relief at hand, and the weak rates are the set-up for service cuts by the ocean carriers in the coming weeks.

As reported in FreightWaves, the Freightos Baltic Index for container shipping into North America has been under pressure since May 5, when President Donald Trump said he would immediately impose 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports to the U.S., up from the 10 percent tariffs imposed last year.

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Soon after, the U.S. Trade Representative also started the process for adding the same duty level to another $300 billion in goods from China.

SInce President Trump’s early May tariff moves, the daily index for China-North America West spot voyages (SONAR: FBXD.CNAW) dropped 14 percent to $1,326 per forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU).

The downward move is a reversal from April when inbound container volumes to North America reached their best levels since January 2019. Major North American West Coast ports reported a 4 percent year-on-year rise in total import volume, reaching just over 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU).

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