US importers have stocked up heavily on Chinese goods in preparation for a resurgence of the US-China trade war, according to Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping line by market share.
Quoted by Reuters on January 24, 2019, during the penultimate day of the World Economic Forum, Soren Skou, Maersk’s CEO, said that US imports of Chinese goods increased in the final quarter of 2018, despite the combined US $400 billion of tariffs imposed by each side.
“It was very clear that U.S. imports from China rose significantly in the fourth quarter, while exports to China fell. So quite the opposite of what the U.S. administration had wanted,” Skou said.
How has the trade war affected various parts of the shipping industry? Find out by reading a Port Technology technical paper
“Container transport grew 4 percent in 2018, which is a bit more than growth in the global economy. So we can’t say we’ve seen any real negative impact from the row between the United States and China.
“For the trade war to have such an effect on global trade there would need to be serious deterioration in the relationship between China and the United States.”
Preparation for the Chinese Lunar New Year – February 5 – has also added to the wave of US imports of Chinese goods, but the numbers are likely to decline as 2019 continues, according to Skou.
Maersk warned in November 2018, upon the release of its third quarter financial results, that the trade war could have a detrimental effect on global trade.