Port of Los Angeles exec says U.S. tariff tiffs could be 'new normal'

The executive overseeing the busiest U.S. gateway for ocean trade with China on Thursday said the “weaponization of tariffs” to advance U.S. policy interests may now be the “new normal.”

Shipping containers are pictured stacked on a ship docked at Yusen Terminals on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles

di Lisa Baertlein

Los Angeles - The executive overseeing the busiest U.S. gateway for ocean trade with China on Thursday said the “weaponization of tariffs” to advance U.S. policy interests may now be the “new normal.”

The comments from Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka came just a day after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu signed a Phase 1 agreement to defuse their 18-month-long trade war.
 
The partial pact will cut some U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for Chinese pledges to purchase more American farm, energy and manufactured goods.
 
“Even with a Phase 1 trade deal now inked with China, the use of trade taxes to advance policy may now be the new normal,” Seroka said at the State of the Port conference in San Pedro, California.
The Trump administration’s “weaponization of tariffs” led to a “debilitating trade war” that roiled global supply chains, rerouted cargo and had a measurable impact at the nation’s No. 1 seaport, Seroka said.
 
Incoming container traffic at the sprawling Los Angeles port is dominated by tarrif-targeted items such as furniture, auto parts, apparel, footwear and electronics. Soybeans, a key export, were also hard hit.
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