IMPORT & EXPORT
By Deborah Belgum | October 19, 2017
As President Trump starts whittling away at the various free-trade agreements the United States has with different countries, Egypt is revving up its promotion of its special industrial zones where apparel can be made and exported duty-free to the United States.
Trade experts were expecting a free-trade agreement between the United States and Europe to be signed, sealed and delivered by the time Barack Obama left the White House. But things didn’t turn out as planned as the political winds in Europe and the United States shifted recently from pro free trade to increased protectionism.
With unemployment hitting extremely low levels and workers’ wages rising, the nation’s ports should see a decent uptick in cargo-container volumes through at least September.
With political and economic change in the wind, longshore workers have agreed to vote on a three-year extension of their current contract expiring July 1, 2019.
With retail sales predicted to inch up around 4 percent this year, cargo container traffic should also see healthy growth this year.
Julie Hughes, president of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association, and Augustine Tantillo, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of Textile Organizations, discussed their group members’ view on everything from a proposed border tax on goods coming from Mexico to the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership at a recent live webcast.
A trade war over Europe limiting U.S. beef imports led the Obama administration last year to propose a set of retaliatory tariffs on mostly food-related goods coming from Europe.
President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Robert Lighthizer to become the new U.S. trade representative in charge of the country’s trade policy.
For years, Hanjin Shipping Co. was a major customer at the Port of Long Beach, accounting for 12 percent of the cargo containers that came through the Southern California terminus last year.
Fewer clothes were imported from China this year than last year as manufacturers headed to lower-wage countries such as Vietnam, India and Bangladesh to do more of their production.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade accord between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, was poised to be approved this year by the U.S. Congress. But election-year politics put an official end to that as both presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made it known they would not back the trade pact.
Los Angeles clothing importers were hit hard this year when Hanjin Shipping Co. filed for bankruptcy in South Korea on Aug. 31. The bankruptcy left several Hanjin vessels drifting at sea while the shipping line came up with funds to dock at global ports and terminals.
From high-profile bankruptcies in manufacturing, shipping and e-commerce to million-dollar development projects across the Southland, 2016 was a year of stark contrasts for the apparel industry.
Ever since the presidential elections ended, people such as Daniel Barcenas have been fielding calls from Mexican apparel companies asking what is going to happen to free trade under a Trump administration.
With some 6,000 Hanjin-leased cargo containers sitting empty in the wake of the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, the result is that some 6,000 chassis attached to the containers are not circulating throughout the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and stalling pickup times and deliveries.
As the holiday season approaches, shipping import volumes at the nation’s leading ports are ramping up rapidly.