- The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) reported the busiest February in history this year, with 12% growth in total volume compared to the previous year. But the SCPA does not expect these records to continue into spring.
- "We anticipate volumes from March to May will be below plan due to the impact of trade uncertainty and a significant number of blanked sailings, but we ultimately expect to achieve our FY2019 plan of 1.3 million pier containers," SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement. The port expects to see 35,000 to 45,000 fewer containers than it originally expected from March to May, according to The Post and Courier.
- Other ports have already experienced a slowdown. Port of Oakland said its February import levels were down 5% from a year prior.
A slowdown in port volumes is not completely unexpected. Importers set records at the end of 2018 and at the beginning of this year as they raced to beat potential tariff hikes since the trade war between China and the U.S. appeared to be heating up.
"Analysts have since predicted an import slowdown due to jammed warehouses and delays in tariff hikes," Port of Oakland said in a press release.
Charleston faces some unique challenges as one of its biggest users, BMW, expects 2019 profits to be much lower than last year, partially blaming high tariff cost — executives said tariffs "are not good for the business," on the company's most recent earnings call.
The BMW plant near Spartanburg, South Carolina, could play a role in helping the automaker avoid some tariff costs.
"If there's anything coming or whatever, we can adjust more production to the U.S. for the U.S. market," BMW CEO Harald Krüger said on the call.