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New Report Assesses Impact of Trade War on Trade through LA and Long Beach Ports

A new report commissioned by the Port of Los Angeles illustrates the effect of tariffs on ocean-borne trade through the San Pedro Bay ports of entry (Los Angeles and Long Beach). Prepared by Washington State-based trade and transportation consultancy BST Associates, the report highlights that while the immediate effects of declining international trade are felt most acutely in a port of entry, overall impacts are widespread.

The report estimates that some 1.26 million jobs in the United States are supported by imports that are subject to the additional tariffs and that move through the San Pedro Bay ports. Moreover, an estimated 206,790 jobs are supported by the exports that are subject to retaliatory tariffs. The report highlights that, as the largest ports on the U.S. Pacific Coast, mainland Chinese shipments account for 42 percent of waterborne import tonnage into San Pedro Bay and the vast majority are subject to additional tariffs. U.S. exports to mainland China also flow through those ports: 27.5 percent of total waterborne export tonnage from San Pedro Bay goes to mainland China and those exports are largely subject to retaliatory tariffs.

The consultants worked carefully to extrapolate the broader impact of tariffs on shipments through the two ports. They used U.S. Census data, PIERS shipping data and even geocoding of firm address information. The analysis is based on 2018 trade shipments but includes all tariffs implemented or proposed by 1 October 2019. These calculations do not include the broader difficulty facing U.S. businesses in planning new investments in a volatile environment.

In addition to impacts by industry sector and for each U.S. state, the report provides estimates of tariff impacts by congressional district as well as by state Senate district within California. The congressional district information presumably aims to persuade members of Congress that Southern California is especially heavily impacted by trade declines and none of their districts should count on “winning” a trade war.

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