Maersk Warns on Impact of Trade War

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Maersk shipping chief has announced that tariffs could slow global annual trade growth by 0.1 to 0.3 per cent, but in US it declined by 3 or 4 per cent.

US economy to be affected

According to the chief executive of AP Moller-Maersk, the US economy will be hit many times harder than the rest of the world by an escalating global trade war.

Soren Skou, who runs the world’s biggest shipping company from Copenhagen, said: “The fallout of the current protectionist wave could easily end up being bigger in the US. Tariffs could slow global annual trade growth by 0.1 to 0.3 per cent, although for the US the effect could be perhaps 3 or 4 per cent and that would definitely not be good”.

Trade relation on the rocks

The company transports about 20 percent of the world’s seaborne consumer goods, putting it in a unique position to gauge the fallout of tariffs on trade flows. Maersk has in the past broken its culture of steering clear of any political debate to criticise the trade policies of US President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration has argued that its tariffs are addressing an imbalance in trade relations between China and much of the rest of the globe and that the measures will support US industry. Mr Trump has tweeted that the US economy is doing “better than ever” and highlighted strong gross domestic product data and declines in the unemployment rate.

Increase in demand

Maersk focuses on trade flows between Europe and Asia, and so far its industry hasn’t been directly hurt by tariffs. Demand actually grew 4 per cent in the second quarter. But Mr Skou says that may change if the US starts targeting consumer goods.

Mr Skou said, “The first thing the American importers would do if tariffs are put on Chinese consumer goods would be to buy in Vietnam, in Indonesia or elsewhere in Asia. Big US consumer brands like Nike produce in all of Asia, not just in one country, so there will be a substitution effect”.

The US put duties on US$34 billion (Dh124.9m) of Chinese goods last month, citing unfair trade practices by the world’s second-biggest economy. The Trump administration has said it will impose tariffs on a further $16bn on August 23, and even signalled it won’t shy away from targeting the entire $500bn in Chinese exports to the US.

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Source: The National

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